As I mentioned in the column today, Emmitt Smith stiffness aside, I felt this was a very funny episode. But -- and, again, maybe this is just me rationalizing the whole "Criminal Minds" thing -- would this be the episode you would introduce to the non-"HIMYM"-watching world in hopes of turning it from "Deal or No Deal" punching bag into TV's Next Great Sitcom Hit?
Maybe "Slap Bet" has now set an impossible standard for me, where I'm mildly disappointed if the show doesn't feature repeated violence and/or bedazzled jean jackets. So let's move off of the scheduling decision, which can't be controlled, and talk about the hot winged goodness of the episode itself.
First of all, to my list of Things That Are Never Not Funny -- including Al Pacino doing a Cuban accent, Will Ferrell in a fake mustache, Homer Simpson's whiny voice and the books of Carl Hiaasen -- I now have to add inappropriately loud yelling. Ted's my least favorite character on the show, but him in the Sensory Deprivatory 5000 screaming his order to the bartender? Gold. (Another example of the genre: David Lynch loudly telling Kyle MacLachlan, "You remind me of a small Mexican chihauhau!")
Second, I loved Marshall being blackmailed by the little kid (and his poor math skills) -- and, especially, him figuring out a way to turn the tables. ("Cheers" did the "adult gets a time out" joke before, and I'm sure other sitcoms have, too, but Jason Segel does such a perfect job of portraying Marshall's inner kid and his insistence on obeying the rules, even when they're silly and shouldn't apply.) Interesting that the writers allowed Marshall to take it too far -- bullying the kid out of his pudding snack -- without consequence, though I suppose you could argue that finding out the score was some kind of punishment, even if it also happened to Robin, Barney and Lily without them extorting a five-year-old.
Barney's gambling addiction rears its awesome head again, highlighted by the flashback to its origins, and by his schmoopy phone conversation with the bookie ("You hang up! You hang up!") Also, this is the second time of the series (and within the span of a few episodes) where we've seen Barney not wearing either a suit, a costume or a uniform. He had a good reason, but they need to be careful on this.
Some other thoughts:
- Continuity geek help, please. Ted was 27 when the series began, so he'd be 28 now. How long have he and Marshall had this awesome apartment? Because the Nipplegate Super Bowl was in '04, and that wasn't even the first Super Bowl where Ted and Marshall watched the game in that apartment. Also, how long have he and Barney been friends? I vaguely remember the context of their meeting (Barney went up to him at some party), and it was at some point post-college.
- Was Future Ted's final line ("Kids, sometimes even if you know how something's going to end, doesn't mean you can't enjoy the ride.") supposed to be a meta-comment on our knowledge that Ted and Robin are doomed as a couple?
- I've said my own prayers to the TiVo gods -- and to the TiFaux gods as well -- and they only get answered some of the time. (See my own experience trying to watch the game on DVR-delay.)
- Has Robin's channel suddenly gotten a major increase in viewership? Last season she could do or say whatever she wanted on-camera and nobody cared because nobody was watching; now she's being scolded for her Super Bowl antics?