– How I Met Your Mother: I was expecting some kind of twist at the end, but it went pretty much as expected — Ted has suspicions, suspicions appear to be confirmed, turns out it was all a plot to Teach Him a Lesson; Ted learns his lesson; hug. As others have observed, the key weakness with this episode was that Ted’s sister is even less appealing of a character than he is, and therefore the A story revolved around people we couldn’t like much. But Singing Barney and the Robin/Marshall B story (with Singing Marshall) made it fun. One thing about this episode is that like the season premiere and a few others this season, it had a very linear plot and relatively few sets. I almost wonder why they don’t just start shooting in front of an audience if they’re going to do episodes like this.
– Dexter: The season just completed made everybody nicer and more normal; Dexter even had encounters with his dead foster-father, and only sane and normal TV characters get to take advice from dead people. (Just ask Katherine Heigl.) But though the show’s been getting soapier, I don’t think it’s so much a break from the first and best season, but more a negative effect of trying to dig too deeply into a shallow character. The fun part of the premise was that Dexter was a monster without ordinary human feelings, but while he hasn’t exactly been humanized, he’s become a little more human, and therefore less interesting; when he gets lectured by the ghost of Harry, he might as well be a character on Thirtysomething. This is one of those cases where character development is not an entirely good thing for a show; the interesting thing about Dexter was that he was an undeveloped character whose personality and mind didn’t have all the facets of normal, non-psychotic people.
– The Border: This show has been rightly noted as having good production values, particularly by CBC standards, and yet visually there’s an empty-building sort of look to a lot of the interior scenes. I think it’s something to do with the look of Toronto studios. They have excellent facilities, of course, but compared to Vancouver shows, Toronto shows often strike me as having that look in many scenes. Maybe that’s not so much a matter of set design as lighting and set decoration (a lot of these shows don’t give rooms a very “lived-in” appearance). And certainly it’s not inherent to Toronto-filmed shows and movies, since many shows and movies film their interiors in Toronto without looking like that. But I do think I see it in more than a few Toronto shows.