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JUL
20
1 years

Comic-Con: 'How I Met Your Mother' Team Explains Final Season's New Structure

In their first (and only) pilgrimage to San Diego, the cast and EPs of the exiting CBS comedy get a rock-star reception and assure the crowd that the last 22 episodes won't be all about Barney and Robin's wedding weekend.

Jason Segel Cobie Smulders - H 2013
AP/Invision

SAN DIEGO -- How I Met Your Mother might not seem like a natural choice for Comic-Con, but you would not question CBS and 20th Century Fox TV's decision to take the exiting comedy down to San Diego if you saw the frenzied standing ovation the cast and EPs received when they stepped onstage at the Indigo Ballroom.

Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan, as well as co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and director Pamela Fryman were all in attendance. And after screening a hilariously profane video of Ted's adult children (Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie) pleading with off-camera narrator Bob Saget to finish the story, they set the record straight on season nine's slightly tweaked formula.

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Fans had become curious about the new narrative when CBS topper Nina Tassler announced to a crowd at the May Upfronts that the entire final season would take place over the course of Barney and Robin's wedding weekend.

"Everyone is heading off to this wedding, and we sort of have this new framework," said Bays. "We want to stress the word 'framework,' because we don't want people to think there [will be] four hours of flower arranging. We're always going to be flashing back and flashing forward. Decades will span over the course of this weekend."

Gags about the slow-building storyline peppered the entire panel, especially with the subject of the remaining slaps in the series' long-running "slap bet" storyline.

"There is going to be an episode in the middle of the season that takes place during the course of one slap," said Thomas. "We're going to get the tennis camera that the U.S. Open uses to get slow motion [footage] of Roger Federer's serve."

On a more serious note, Radnor spoke a lot about the introduction of Cristin Milioti as a new series regular, playing the long-teased mother.

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"It was weird there was some kind of relief when she joined the show, just so people would stop shaking me on the street asking who the mother was," said Radnor. "It's always been hard to guest star on the show because we have this thing going, the five of us, but it's been really great ... Something that I always thought was genius about this show is that you know this guy wins in the end. It's not a nihilistic show. Everything happens for a reason in How I Met Your Mother, and there's something really lovely about that."

Milioti earned the part after flying in for a secret, late-night screen test with Radnor. Their fake script was playing the roles of George and Martha in a USC thesis film to help keep the audition under wraps. Harris chimed in to assure fans that Radnor and Milioti, who have yet to appear on camera together, have great chemistry.

"At one point, the idea of the series was that the last scene of the last episode would be 'Here is this girl,' " said Bays. "We, like you, want to know who this person is. And we want to see Ted happy. We want to see the moments that are ahead of him once he meets this girl."

Back to running jokes, everyone was coy about another possible installment of Smulders doubling as Robin Sparkles in the final season -- but they were down for a sing-a-long. The actress treated the crowd to a chorus of "Let's Go to the Mall," which nearly everyone participated in.

"We can neither confirm nor deny," Bays said about bringing Robin Sparkles back. "It's a wedding. And people sing songs at weddings."

How I Met Your Mother's final season, which kicked off filming last week, premieres Monday, Sept. 23, with a one-hour episode.

Email: Michael.OConnell@THR.com; Twitter: @MikeyLikesTV