Couple of bits of news on the How I Met Your Mother front (apart from the news that there’s no new episode tonight). The show has just been renewed for a sixth season. It’s amazing to think, now, that it was considered to be a “bubble show” in its early years and that it probably would have been canceled after the third season if not for the boost in viewership from the Britney Spears appearances. So basically, the difference between a respectable three-season money-loser and a long-running, money-making, syndication-running hit was Britney Spears. It’s odd because we tend to think that a good show will build an audience if the network gives it enough time, but in practice, it seems like a show will usually amble along with the same audience it had from the beginning, unless something sudden and lucky happens to give it a shot of extra viewers.
The other bit of news is that HIMYM creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have signed a new deal with Fox that will keep them on the show through season 8 (if it lasts that long) and that they’ll also be creating a new show in the same style with two of their staff writers. (The link is down as of this writing but it might work now that you’re reading it.) The show will be filmed in the same way — multi-camera but without an audience, and with lots of short scenes — but it will be from the point of view of a couple instead of a single guy, and it will take place in Pittsburgh. This will make it the second sitcom in the last several years to choose Pittsburgh as a setting, Back To You being the other. But I’m glad to see sitcoms waking up to the fact that they don’t all need to take place in New York or California. I can understand why most single-camera shows choose New York or L.A. or some generic town as the setting: they have to film outdoors, and they can’t worry all the time about disguising New York or L.A. as some other city. But multi-camera shows, being shot almost entirely in the studio, can theoretically take place anywhere; but for a long time, the networks were thinking that Chicago or Boston were dangerously exotic settings.