Pilot (How I Met Your Mother)
|How I Met Your Mother episode|
|Directed by||Pamela Fryman|
|Original air date||September 19, 2005|
"Pilot" is the pilot episode of American television sitcom How I Met Your Mother, which premiered on CBS on September 19, 2005. It was written by series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, and directed by Pamela Fryman The pilot takes place in 2030, as a future Ted Mosby (Voiced by Bob Saget) is telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. It flashes back to 2005 to a younger Ted (Josh Radnor) who meets Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), a reporter who he becomes smitten for. Meanwhile, Ted's lawyer friend Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) plans on proposing to his girlfriend Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), a kindergarten teacher.
The episode introduces several of the show's storytelling tools, including the framing device of future Ted as the narrator, his children, and many flashbacks to the past, present, and future. Future Ted reveals early the ending of a possible relationship story when he tells his children that Robin is not the mother, but "Aunt Robin". When asked if he regretted revealing that Robin ultimately becomes Ted's platonic friend in the pilot episode, series creator Craig Thomas explains they stick by the decision because they didn't want the show to be about "will they or won't they" like Friends and that, despite their chemistry, it would have been criminal for Ted to decide he was ready to find someone and to have it happen so quickly. He and co-creator Carter Bays said that the show is about how "Ted meets the perfect woman, and it's [still] not his final love story."
Bays and Thomas, who had previously become writers for the Late Show with David Letterman, based the show off their time in New York City with their friends. With Ted being based on Bays and Marshall and Lily based on Thomas and his wife. The interior shots for the episode was filmed at the CBS Radford in Los Angeles, making it the only episode of the show to be filmed at the studio.
The pilot received generally positive reviews from television critics. It was viewed by 10.94 million viewers.
In 2030, Ted Mosby (voiced by Bob Saget) is telling his teenaged children the story of how he met their mother. The story flashes back to 2005, where 27-year-old Ted (Josh Radnor) helps his best friend and roommate Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) prepare to propose to his girlfriend, Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan). At MacLaren's pub, Ted confides to his friend Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) that their engagement has made him reconsider his life and made him realize that he wants to get married. Barney, a womanizer who despises relationships, insists that Ted should remain single so that he can continue being his wingman. He introduces Ted to a woman using one of his catchphrases—"Have you met Ted?". Ted and the woman talk, and he asks her out, but it turns out that she is going out with the bartender, Carl. Ted then sees Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) across the bar and is instantly smitten. Robin is a reporter for Metro News One who wants to cover important news, but is now covering inconsequential local human interest stories. Ted asks her out to dinner, but she says that she will be out of town for a week. Ted asks her to dinner the following night, and she accepts.
Ted and Robin hit it off, and she then invites Ted to her apartment. Just as Ted is about to make his move, however, Robin is called in to cover a news story. Back at MacLaren's, Ted's friends tell him that he should have kissed Robin before she left as she was giving him the obvious sign on a prolonging stare while they shook hands when he said he's a good hand shaker. Ted, accompanied by the gang, goes to her apartment, after stopping by the restaurant where they had their first date and stealing the blue French horn that she had admired.
She and Ted resume their date. Just as they are about to kiss, however, Ted tells her that he is in love with her, destroying his chances with her. After a lingering goodbye, he returns to MacLaren's with the gang, assuming that he will never see her again. Future Ted tells his children, "And that's the story of how I met your... Aunt Robin"; with this, he mentions Robin's name for the first time. The children are confused, as they had assumed he was talking about their mother. Ted reminds them that "it's a long story".
Thomas and Bays based the characters on their friends. With Ted being based on Bays and Marshall and Lily based on Thomas and his wife. Thomas' wife Rebecca was initially reluctant to have a character based on her, but agreed if they could get Alyson Hannigan to play her. Hannigan was looking to do more comedy work, and was available. Josh Radnor and Jason Segel, who were cast as Ted and Marshall, respectively, were not well known, though Segel had been a cast member on the short-lived Freaks and Geeks and a recurring guest star on Judd Apatow follow-up Undeclared. The role of Barney was initially envisioned as a "John Belushi-type character" before Neil Patrick Harris won the role after being invited to an audition by the show's casting director Megan Branman. Pamela Fryman invited Bob Saget to be the voiceover narrator, Future Ted, explaining to him that the show would be like The Wonder Years but "kind of into the future". Saget either went to the television studio and recorded the narration while watching the episode, or did so separately and rerecorded with the episode if necessary. He normally did not attend table readings, but did so for the last episode. In various interviews Bays and Thomas have stated that "a pretty famous actress" turned down the role of Robin, whom they revealed in February 2014 to have been Jennifer Love Hewitt. They then cast Cobie Smulders, also an unknown, for the role. Bays and Thomas later said, "Thank God we did for a million reasons... when Ted's seeing her for the first time, America's seeing her for the first time — the intriguingness of that propelled the show going forward and kept the show alive".
The interior shots for the episode were filmed at the CBS Radford in Los Angeles, making it the only episode of the show to be filmed at the studio. MacLaren's, an Irish bar in the middle of New York, in which some of the show is set, is loosely based on four favorite bars of Bays, Thomas and others from the Late Show staff. They include: McGee's, a Midtown tavern near the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Late Show is taped; McHale's, a legendary Hell's Kitchen bar which closed in 2006; Chumley's, a since-closed historic Greenwich Village pub; and Fez, another closed bar on the Upper West Side. McGee's had a mural that Bays and Thomas both liked and wanted to incorporate into the show. The name for the bar is from Carter Bays' assistant, Carl MacLaren; the bartender in the show is also named Carl.
In its original American broadcast, the pilot of How I Met Your Mother was watched by 10.94 million viewers and averaged a 3.9 rating among A18-49.
The episode received generally favorable reviews, garnering a score of 69 from Metacritic. Seth Thrasher gave the episode 5/5 saying: "...this is one of the funniest sitcoms I’ve seen in a LONG, LONG time". He also said that he was impressed by Harris' character: "I never realized Neil Patrick Harris was so damned funny. His character, Barney, is quite possibly the funniest new sitcom character to debut on television in ages". He also praised the rest of the cast. Brian Lowry of Variety said that it was a "bright" and "cleverly constructed" half-hour, putting it in the company of Two and a Half Men. "It's not often that a pilot has the polished feel of a show that's been around for a while, but How I Met Your Mother should be a solid bridge between The King of Queens and the aforementioned Two and a Half Men."
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