The producers of “How I Met Your Mother” are (sort of) sorry they lied to us. They promise they (probably won’t) do it again. And they’re deeply apologetic for any hurt feelings.
This all goes back to the December 2011 episode “Symphony of Illumination,” which opened with future-Robin (Cobie Smulders) talking to her future kid — just like future Ted (voiced by Bob Saget) talks to his future kids in every episode.
Future Robin told her future kid how she got pregnant and that Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) was the father, leaving longtime fans of the show gasping at the thought that some of the long-awaited information was finally being revealed.
Except that it wasn’t real. It was all a fantasy sequence, which ticked off more than a few fans. Including my daughter, who (unconvincingly) vowed never to watch “HIMYM” again.
And it ticked off at least one of the show’s stars. “She should have been at the table read,” said Alyson Hannigan, who stars as Lily, when I told her about my daughter’s reaction. “Man! I was, like, ‘Season pass — delete!’ I was so angry, too.”
She wasn’t altogether kidding, by the way. “I was genuinely pissed off,” Hannigan said at the recent Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. “I totally understand why other people were, too.”
The show’s producers took it somewhat more in stride. “People get pissed at us all the time,” Carter Bays said.
This was different. “How I Met Your Mother” (Mondays, 7 p.m., CBS/Channel 2) has always done a great job of nonlinear storytelling. Storylines jump from here to there, and it’s not unusual to see the same events told and retold from the perspectives of different characters.
But in “Symphony of Illumination,” we were told a story that was outside the show’s narrative. A story that was make-believe. A big fat lie, if you want to be blunt about it.
And the problem with that is the show loses a lot if you have to sit there and wonder if you’re being deliberately led astray. Which is not what Bays and Craig Thomas, the show’s other creator/executive producer, were looking for.
Bays said their rationale is that when we hear the voice of the narrator — future Ted — we can count on it telling us the truth.
“He’s never lied to us,” Bays said. “He’s joked. He’s goofed around a couple times, but he’s always said when he’s joking. We sort of take that the stuff that he says kind of as gospel.”
“But other than that, I think people can trust what Bob Saget says.”
“Not in life,” Thomas interjected. “Do not lend that guy money. And apologies to your daughter.”
No problem. She’s still watching.
Scott D. Pierce’s column appears Mondays and Fridays in The Mix. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce; read his blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.