When we asked ‘How I Met Your Mother‘s executive producer Craig Thomas to answer our questions about the comedy’s May 24 season finale, we hardly imagined he’d comply from vacation in Estonia. (Yes, Estonia.) But to our surprise, he did. And maybe its this kind of devout dedication to his work that helped HIMYM average 9 million weekly viewers in its fifth season, and cemented its spot on the grid in CBS’ fall lineup.
So what can you expect from Monday’s finale?
Laughter! Tears! Marshall and Lily having the “kids” talk! Barney trying to bang one girl from every country in the world! And Ted dyeing his hair! …blonde.
Read on for Thomas’ thoughtful preview of Monday’s episode, what to expect from season six, and his favorite moments – and missteps – of this season.
What were the high points of the season? Getting to compose a musical number for our 100th episode, featuring an orchestra of fifty musicians and sixty-five background dancers was not only a season highlight, but a dream come true for Carter and myself, who are total music dorks. I kept expecting grown-ups with briefcases and laminated budget reports to come up and make us stop, but no one ever did! Beyond that, I’d have to say my favorite thing about this season has been, quite simply, the weekly appreciation of how well this cast clicks as a whole — how effortless they seem together. I just completely believe them as a group of friends, and after five years, I still want to hang out with them every week. I believe the most important thing in sitcoms is the “Do you care about these people?” factor. I think the funny almost always comes from that. And when we shoot a heartbreaking scene for our characters (as we did for the upcoming finale), and I look around and see our crew members getting misty, it makes me realize how deeply we’ve all come to care about these guys. These characters have really come to feel like actual human beings we’ve all spent half a decade with, like actual friends of ours…And that’s a great (if slightly delusional and possibly even psychologically unstable) feeling.
Do you have a favorite episode, line, or scene from this season? If so – what? The season finale is my personal favorite episode of the year, because it hits the sweet spot (that I think is HIMYM at its best) of making you laugh and cry. Specifically, there’s a sweet, charged (but still funny and unpredictable) scene toward the end between Robin and Ted that I just loved. It’s a scene in which these two characters who’ve been through so much, in their own way, talk about the series pilot. Ted is talking to Robin about when they met, five years ago, and we flash back to clips of where all the characters were when we met them in the pilot and then, by comparison, where they’re all ending up as the season comes to a close. Seeing Ted and Robin acknowledge and recognize the journey they’ve been on, that we’ve been on with them — there’s something sweet and nostalgic about it. Oh, and my runner-up favorite thing is Marshall’s “bang, bang, bangity-bang” song (from earlier in the season) about how many skanks Barney has banged. (Note: I didn’t say all of my favorite moments were sweet and nostalgic.) However, it is a wee bit frustrating to spend all that time and money on the 100th episode musical number and still, by far the catchiest song of the season is “Bang, bang bangity-bang, I said-a-bang-bang-bangity bang!”
CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TO SEE A SLIDESHOW FROM MONDAY’S FINALE
Take us inside your approach to the finale, and what you wanted to accomplish. One big theme of the pilot — and the season as a whole — was Robin (who has historically been a bit tough and guarded around relationships) “becoming a real girl,” getting serious with a guy (her co-anchor, Don) on a level she’d never done before, even with Ted. That’s a huge part of the finale, and it was a great opportunity to showcase how wonderful Cobie Smulders is. She’s absolutely amazing in the finale. The other big plot of the finale involves Marshall and Lily debating whether they’re ready to have kids. It’s such a huge life decision, Lily wants to leave it up to the Universe. But Marshall feels ready, right now and doesn’t want to “wait for a sign.” In a way, “The Universe” is a character in the season finale! Because these are some pretty weighty topics, to lighten things up we also had Ted make the God-awful decision to dye his hair blonde (you’ll have to watch the show to see why…and also just how freakin’ strange it looks!) and Barney is on a quest to nail at least one woman from every country of the world, and even has a little map with red checks marking territories conquered. Side note: in the finale, Barney wants to “close out the Baltics” by nailing a girl from Estonia. We specifically chose that country because I knew that I’d be travelling to Estonia in mid-May (to accompany my wife to a conference). I knew nothing about Estonia while writing the episode, in which Barney encounters an Estonian street performer (the actress who played her was one of 11 women in the world who can swallow a sword — seriously!). To “sound Estonian,” we had her fake a kind of quasi-Russian accent. Now that I’m here in Estonia (I’m literally answering these questions from Tallin, Estonia, the capital — seriously!), I now realize the accent is pretty specific and different than Russian. So I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to any Estonians who see our Season Five finale– we got your accent wrong! We’re sorry. It’s a very lovely city, Tallin, with hauntingly beautiful medieval touches everywhere you look (although we do keep seeing ads all over the place for a massage parlor touting their “erotic soapy massage”…so Barney would probably like it here pretty well). I can’t give away whether Barney scores with the Estonian sword swallower or not. You’ll just have to watch (and forgive the accent!).
Did anything disappoint you about this season? Anything you wish you could have done, but didn’t have the time, forethought or resources? We began the season with Barney and Robin together, and we knew that we wanted to play it mainly for comedy (since we’d already had such an intense romance between Ted and Robin during our first two and a half seasons…). But ultimately, when you get two main characters together (and then break them up), you’re gonna please some percentage of the fans, and displease others. There are those who wanted to see them together longer and I’m also sure there were fans who couldn’t wait for them to break up (and to get Barney back to being Barney). Ultimately, even though we broke them up early-ish (and mutually amicably), it was nice to reveal, later in the season, that Robin really did have a harder time getting over it than Barney was initially aware of. And also to show that Barney was really beside himself that he hurt her. This also set up Robin going on to get very serious with her co-anchor, Don. So whatever side of that debate one falls on, breaking them up when we did led us to a lot of juicy stuff, especially in the season finale…
What should fans look forward to next season? And if you haven’t gotten that far yet…what would your dream season be? In the finale, Marshall and Lily are at a crossroads about whether to take the enormous step into parenthood. Because they’ve been together since age 18 (which means they’re hitting their fourteen year anniversary!), it makes a ton of sense for these two to be considering this. But it’s also a huge shift for those characters, and a huge topic to tackle for the series. I don’t want to reveal what happens, but I’ll say we’re all very excited to start writing season 6!