Picks and Pans Review: How I Met Your Mother

updated 10/10/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/2005 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS (Mondays, 8:30 p.m. ET)

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How I Met Your Mother is a compound of Friends and Seinfeld—adorable young singles hopping in and out of cabs, in and out of bars, in and out of beds in Manhattan, that island playground of hearts—only it comes with a narrative gimmick. It's recounted as one big sitcom romance flashback, as told by a father to his two children in the year 2030.

The kickoff: In 2005, Future Dad is a guy named Ted (Josh Radnor, an actor who could best be described as Jimmy Fallonian). Ted realizes it's time to settle down after his best friend proposes to their roommate, Lily (the always appealing Alyson Hannigan). He immediately falls in love with a local TV broadcaster (Cobie Smulders)—but at this point the two kids hearing the story in 2030 are brought up short. That isn't the woman who became their mother. So the mystery will be teased out. Or maybe someday Dad is going to explode with laughter and tell the kids, "You're clones, you clowns!"

The main point of interest here is Neil Patrick Harris as Ted's bizarre sidekick, a self-styled ladies' man who dresses up in natty suits even at local dives. He's all snappy, ridiculous banter and posturing. What's this character doing here? The better gimmick would be if he turned out to have some sort of sick Fight Club deal with Ted. That's not going to happen, any more than the clones.

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