last year i probably would have said that "how i met your mother" and "the office" were my top two half hour comedies. it doesn't take too long for things to change.
the fall season's fresh crop of comedies--"modern family", "cougar town", and "community"--have proven to be enjoyable, smart, funny shows. even as the shows grow into their own in fits and starts, the writing has been working on a consistently higher level on these three shows than on either "the office" or "how i met your mother".
maybe it's that they've hit the fifth season slump, but while i still make both shows appointment tv, more often than not i am let down by the episodes. one of my favorite things about how i met your mother last year was the barney-robin romance, this season there were so many ways the writers could have gone about addressing the pairing as a couple. unfortunately for us viewers, they picked the worst possible way. lily forcing barney and robin to declare themselves boyfriend and girlfriend was the worst. the fact that the show then had both barney and robin act completely out of character and forced them into a conventional relationship when what made them interesting in the first place was the fact that as commitment-phobes their relationship would be a challenge for them both. theoretically it should have let them both grow as characters while still keeping them interesting.
massive fail and so many missed opportunities. by putting the focus on how their relationship changed the dynamics of the group, instead of it just being a natural step in the group's evolution to adulthood, the show stopped being funny. and except for ted, who for some reason remained unscathed, the rest of the characters became annoying caricatures. so they broke barney and robin up. and barney has regressed to being the same player he always was, and robin is robin. and so i feel like the show wasted three months of my life to have things go back to where they were before the whole storyline started.
so yeah, i'm a little bitter about that. especially when you take a look at how "big bang theory" handled putting leonard and penny together. i love that the relationship has been allowed to progress with no major manufactured dramas, and that the dynamic between the friends hasn't really changed. because the romance is not the focus of the show, it's just something that is going on incidentally, the occasional episode where it is the focus isn't unwelcome.
with the office the problem has more to do with the complex corporate issues they keep throwing into the mix. having michael and jim as co-managers puts too much focus on their own power struggles and less time on the ensemble. angela, meredith, stanley, ryan, kelly have really been missing this year. though with ryan in on dwight's diabolical plot there may be some comedy forthcoming. the problem with this, however, is that the show has consistently put pam and jim as the show's "good guys". they are the characters who are supposed to be most in tune with reality. and though their wedding episode was very sweet and a perfect cap to the five seasons of their relationship, since then they've become a bit smug, annoying, and patronizing. the fact that jim is a manager means he's actually trying to make this job work, when in previous seasons he was brilliant as the foil or instigator to the various dwight plots.
i miss that jim. the one bright spot has been the slow-burn romance between erin and andy. both characters are so sweetly oblivious, that they consistently misread each other's interest. i can't wait until they figure it out. they have become the couple to root for on the show.