I'm a little behind on this week's TV news stories, so here's a recap on my thoughts on the two which most affected me. One is directly relevant to sports fans across the country, and one… erm, isn't. But if you haven't been keeping up with How I Met Your Mother, watch out: thar be spoilers below!
It's just not cricket
Being in the office this week has taught me two things. Firstly, wearing long-sleeved shirts in temperatures of 25°C or higher does not benefit my productivity. Secondly, most people in their twenties are pretty closed-minded about cricket and either love it or loathe it, like Marmite spread on a white willow wood bat. However, my colleagues had to agree that this week's first Ashes test at Trent Bridge has really had it all – especially in the controversy stakes, with one incident in particular for which television coverage was at least partly responsible.
In what has been dubbed “the Trott Hot Spot plot”, England's number three batsman Jonathan Trott was dismissed lbw upon review by the third umpire, despite slow-motion replays of the shot suggesting Trott had got a thin inside edge to Mitchell Starc's inswinger. The definitive answer to the question of whether Trott had edged the ball would have been given by a side-on ‘Hot Spot’ thermal imaging camera – except it wasn't recording the action.
As with any news story involving technology, the press have been giving a pretty dumbed down version of events. The most likely scenario is that Hot Spot cannot be recorded whilst it is being played back. Think playing back a tape on a camcorder versus time-shifting TV using Sky+ – with the former you can either watch or record, and with the latter you can do both. Therefore, when the Hot Spot operator was asked by the television director to cue up footage of Root being caught on a feathered edge just one ball before, he or she was unable to record the next delivery… which, in an extraordinary over, was yet another close call ball.
Howzat? Not ideal. The third umpire is as much to blame for overruling the on-field decision with insufficient evidence, but it's still disappointing that the vital camera angle wasn't available for such a crucial decision in the context of the test match. I am certain lessons will already have been learnt following this mistake, but to oversimplify it as “operator error” (as much of the national press has done) is grossly unfair. Anyway, England has regained control of the test, embroiling themselves in yet more controversy in the process, so hopefully no lasting harm has been done.
The mother of all reveals
Last night, my Twitter feed was akin to one of a 14-year-old girl, and I'm not even sorry. After eight years, UK fans of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother were finally introduced to The Girl with the Yellow Umbrella, a.k.a., Ted Mosby's future wife and the mother of his children! #amazeballs.
If Ted thinks he's had it tough searching New York City for somebody to love, frankly he should have tried following his exploits from this side of the pond. I caught the bug when the first couple of series were broadcast on BBC One in 2005. It was originally aired on weekday evenings (as I recall), before being bumped to a PVR-friendly late-night graveyard slot. After disappearing from British screens for over three years, it was finally picked up by E4 during 2009. They repeated the first four or five series nightly, until they had more-or-less caught up with the States. Phew!
Last night's reveal felt like a reward for UK fans, who have had to invest a lot of time, effort and emotion to keep track of the timelines within the series. Perhaps that made it even more of a pleasure to realise the respect lavished on viewers, who have been looking forward to meeting the titular mother for the best part of a decade. In particular, her casting was inspired. She was neither a stunt casting, as had been the case for countless other love interests in the series (Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Scherzinger, Katy Perry and Britney Spears have all had token guest parts), nor a well-known actress able to commit for a single final season. Instead, she was (and is!) Broadway actress Cristin Milioti, and she is perfect for the role.
Milioti looks the part, and sounds it too – she was chosen in part for her musical ability, a long-established plot point. Moreover, until last night I had never heard of her, which is perfect. Early on, much of the appeal of HIMYM came from the cast being largely unknown, with the exception of Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris. Because of this, we learnt about the characters as they learnt about each other, with no preconceptions to spoil this. Series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have publicly acknowledged that this helped the show enormously, particularly with the character of Robin who was almost played by “a pretty famous actress”. In a show with an established point of resolution and just a few twists and turns to go until we get there, it's absolutely appropriate that we should get to know Ted's future wife from a similarly neutral standpoint.
And you know what? I for one cannot wait until next year when we'll finally get to do so!