I spent last Saturday at home watching reruns of 30 Rock online, so I appreciated it when this week’s How I Met Your Mother showed clips of Manhattan’s hot spots, talking about the things you can only do in New York when you’re young… and then cut to the whole gang trying to throw pretzels into Marshall’s mouth. Yup, that’s my kind of New York City youthful living. After two episodes of risqué material (“riding the tricyle”) and guest stars (I miss you, Mandy Moore!) the HIMYM are back to their usual antics: Robin is afraid of commitment, Marshall and Lily’s opinions on sex and dating don’t matter, and Ted and Barney are still weirdly competitive? Why would they ever imagine they could compete? Well… it’s a little complicated, and it involves a Michael Douglas metaphor….

1. “I’ve got so much game I’m a Cornish game hen.” At McLaren’s Ted and Barney are talking their usual topics: picking up unsuspecting women at the bar. Both Ted and Barney claim to have more game than the other—Ted is the aforementioned Cornish game hen, as well as “The Game, a well-crafted thriller starring Michael Douglas and Sean Penn!” Hey, I forgot that Sean Pen was in that movie!

2.”That’s like 200 showers ago… you have to ask yourself, is that enough?” Ted and Barney decide to hit on one woman to prove who’s got the most game, but Barney is immediately rejected when he remembers he slept with the woman a year earlier. Ted, on the other hand, gets her, but can’t seal the deal when he’s haunted by Barney—literally tiny Barneys, climbing her lips and shoulders like a miniature Mt. Everest. He’s forced to break up with her, and how does it turn out? Yup, Barney had never even met the girl before, but took advantage of the girl’s broken heart to get with her. Classic move.

3. “It’s cute that their shoes are real little, but other than that what’s the draw?” Robin, go figure, doesn’t like children, so when Lily sets her up with a man with a kid, she’s pretty wary. As it turns out, though, the kid loves Robin once she pours him a bowl of cereal, and even draws a picture of her in class (Lily, of course, is his teacher). Cue Robin’s fear of commitment, but this time, it’s commitment to a kid.

4. “You think I just go around pouring cereal for every boy in town?” When the time comes to end it with the kid—again, not the father—she realizes that, given that he’s six years old, she can use every cliché in the book. As soon as she tells him “It’s not you, it’s me,” though, the real “new mommy” from the picture the kid drew showed up. Now who’s betrayed, Robin?! “You’re great, but…” he tells her. “Yeah, there’s always a but.”

5. Tiny mountain-climbing Barney and reggae-dancing Ted. Yeah, it was an easy visual joke, but the power of green screen never fails to entertain. I’m not so sure about Barney’s idea that you can never hook up with someone your friend has also been with—won’t we all eventually run out of people that way?—it’s the kind of thing that neurotic Ted would freak out about.

All in all this episode was remarkably lackluster given the greatness we’ve seen this season. Marshall and Lily were given practically nothing to do, and everyone else was acting practically like caricatures of themselves. I’m ready for the overarching story that’s going to carry this season along, something like Marshall and Lily’s wedding or Ted and Victoria’s relationship to give it all greater significance. Even the sight of Ted’s future kids drawing pictures with Robin in them wasn’t enough of an emotional pull. Bring me Ted nostalgia, and bring it now!

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