How I Met Your Mother will air its final episode later today. To herald the end of such a popular show, CBS is doing the only thing it knows how to do – desperately trying to find new ways to cash in on the show’s success. So was commissioned a pilot for How I Met Your Dad.
Be still, my beating heart.
I think this pilot misses the reason why How I Met Your Mother was so successful. The “mother” framing device was interesting enough to get viewers through the door, but what kept them coming back was the characters and the writing. Ted, Robin, Marshall, Lily, and especially Barney are why people have stuck around for nine seasons. Now that it’s finally over, do you really think they’re going to be eager to jump to an entirely new cast for what is essentially the same story?
I doubt it. As I said in my preview of Soul Eater NOT for the recent RandomC preview, “A good spin-off takes an established setting and uses it to tell a different story.” Soul Eater NOT does this by taking the Soul Eater setting and telling an entirely new story – a slice-of-life school comedy. One of the better spin-offs in my memory, Frasier from Cheers, was good because Frasier was nothing like Cheers! It took an interesting character that had more depth than the creators initially suspected and ran with it.
Spin-offs should use the original setting as a jumping off point to tell a new story. If instead they try to get lightning to strike twice, they will almost certainly fail. Perhaps How I Met Your Dad will buck this trend. I wouldn’t count on it.