The consummation of a chemistry born over laser tag, the breakup of a legendary bromance and Britney Spears. How I Met Your Mother was one of the first series to return post-strike, and with an order of nine episodes — to be written and shot within ten and a half weeks — they were able to cover quite a bit of ground. With the craziness of last minute production over and the season three finale just 24 hours away, executive producer and co-creator, Craig Thomas — no doubt, the nicest show runner in Hollywood — took the time to talk with me about the awesomeness of the season ender, the possibility of a Lily-Marshall pregnancy and more Robin-Barney sex. Read on…
You’ve finally received the official pick up for season four. Congratulations! Although I’m sure you knew you would, no?
We felt pretty confident but we didn’t know for sure. We still needed to get that call.
And this is a big one because it could possibly mean syndication, right?
It could mean that. If we get a big enough order, we could get into the high 80s or low 90s. It’s kind of mind-blowing, actually. We’ve done 64 [episodes] already, which is crazy.
Did the strike sort of speed this storyline up, because you wanted to do something cool when you came back?
It definitely did. In the middle of the strike, we didn’t know what we were looking at. We didn’t know how many episodes, if any, would [be ordered]. So we had to sort of think, what’s the best thing we could give the fans? If all we get is three episodes in May sweeps, what would be the most exciting thing to write? And we realized it was the Barney and Robin stuff.
Now that you’ve seen Robarn together — as in, in bed together — how do you feel about the pairing? Is there more to come?
People will see in the finale that there’s definitely a hint of more to come. We love the two of them in teams together, we love the complication we’ve now added into their friendship. Most of the focus has been on patching up the relationship between Barney and Ted, but at some point we’re going to see that [Robin and Barney’s] experience has [other] repercussions and is definitely going to mean something moving forward.
Why is Ted so angry with Barney but totally cool with Robin?
[Laughs] It’s funny, everyone has a different opinion on this — everyone in the writers room, different executives, my wife — they all have a different idea of how they’d feel about this situation, which is what makes it ripe to explore. Our feeling, from a writing perspective and even from a viewer perspective, was that we’ve seen a lot of Ted and Robin angst already. Even this year, in one of our better episodes, "Slapsgiving," we saw Robin dating a new guy and Ted and Robin have a relapse and question their friendship, can they even be friends? Ultimately they work it out and realize they are friends, they have the same sense of humor and they want to keep being friends. We didn’t want to rip that asunder again. In terms of whether that’s realistic or not, there seems to be some debate. But in that episode, "The Goat," we see Robin apologize to Ted [for sleeping with Barney]. She comes forward and she’s honest in a way that Barney wasn’t. We thought that earned her a lot of points. And we also did a scene in the very next episode where Ted says that it wasn’t just about the fact that Robin and Barney hooked up. It was about him and Barney, something deeper in their friendship. He’s trying to move forward, he’s dating a single mom, he’s trying to grow up and Barney’s still busy being legendary every night.
Are you aware that some people still talk about Ted’s old girlfriend Victoria being the mother? Is there any chance we’ll ever see her again?
We loved Ashley Williams on the show, we thought she was great. The nice thing about How I Met Your Mother is that you don’t ever know if the killer is really dead. You know, we never fully close the door on anybody on this show. This whole series is essentially a mystery and you need to have a lot of choices to keep that mystery alive. We’ve actually talked about bringing Victoria back a couple of times. We haven’t done it yet, but yeah, we could see her again.
As you said, the finale will focus heavily on Ted, Barney and Robin, but can you tease to anything Lily and Marshall-related? I heard Marshall may be begging for his job back. And how about the crooked apartment? Will they ever move in?
We’re going to see more about that in season four. Marshall and Lily will start to think about their future, and potential parenthood. We’ll see how that’s complicated by the financial hold they’re in. They’re obsessed with making this doomed apartment work so they can start their next chapter there.
Has there been any talk about the next time Marshall is going to slap Barney?
[Laughs] It’s funny, we’ve got like a million different ideas of how to do that. The writers were joking that it would be great if there was no buildup to it whatsoever, the scene is totally about something else and Marshall just slaps him out of nowhere and then just moves past it like it’s nothing. I don’t know that we’ll definitely do that, but I like the idea that it could happen at any point.