Monday, February 05, 2007

HIMYM: It just went up to 8!

Spoilers for "How I Met Your Mother" just as soon as I flash back to my college days ordering from a little West Philly place called FWOT (aka Fingers, Wings and Other Things)...

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?
What did everybody else think?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't think HIMYM will ever top "Slap Bet." It's not that the series can't be enjoyable anyway, but I think waiting for another Let's Go to the Mall will just make the show seem weaker than it is. That was just one episode where they got everything perfect and comparing future episodes to that will result in premature slapulation.

Adam said...

I found last year's "The Pineapple Incident" absolutely hilarious, my favorite of last season. Does anyone else remember that one and think as highly of it? I think it ranks almost as high as "Slap Bet." Tonight's was good, but not as good as those two.

Anonymous said...

i think this show has been underachieving this year. its still very very good, but no longer transcendently emotional tv as well as funny... its a well executed 1/2 hour mulit-camera but nothing more. i don't think its special enough and josh radnor remains a blank in the middle of the piece. solid but no longer at the same level as an office, 30 rock, or even new adventures of old christine.

R.A. Porter said...

Ted and Barney met at after college at McLaren's. In the pilot, there's a nifty little whip pan from the bar where they're talking to the table where they met - complete with Ted's goatee that doesn't go with his suit.

I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. After reading your article this morning, I was expecting less, so when it easily out-classed the Muscles from Brussels on Friends, I was quite happy.

Tom G said...

As an audiologist, I found the loud talking incredibly amusing.

I was pondering the chronology of the flashbacks too, but here's a question: in a pre-LOST world, would we even care? Probably not. I'm no complaining, just observing...

Marsha said...

I also love the Pineapple Incident, as well as The Slutty Pumpkin. But I disagree that this season is underachieving. Slap Bet. Swarley. Yeesh. If that's underachieving...

I liked this ep, but not as much as some others. It is, of course, unfair to use Slap Bet as a baseline. It's like thinking every episode of Friends needed to be as perfect as the one with Phoebe's implanted embryos and the Ross-hosted game with the apartment on the line (perhaps my favorite sitcom episode). You only get a Slap Bet once or twice in a show's run. Savor it, but don't denigrate te show for not hitting those heights every week.

Yes, Alan, I did see that "enjoy the ride" comment as a meta comment on Ted and Robin's known outcome. I thought it was cute.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the difference in Robin's work situation that last season she was doing the overnight broadcast and now she's been promoted to the morning drive time show?

Toby said...

I realize there was no way they could predict what the weather would be for Super Bowl Sunday when they filmed the episode (Isn't that what "It just went up to 8" refers to in the heading?), but they could have done a better job of showing NYC in February. They didn't have to fill the fake street scene with snow, but some indication of how cold it could have been? (They didn't even need to make it look as though the temp was down in the teens, just have the people look really cold out there.)

Might as well have been fall for the way Emmitt Smith walked around with his jacket open. (Was dancing keeping him warm?)

Anonymous said...

I don't quite get what Lost has to do with people being interested in the chronology, if that is what you were trying to say. I've been interested in the past chronology of characters in TV shows since at least.... i'm not sure when. 1987, maybe? (sometimes characters on eight is enough referred to past eps, and I was watching reruns of that in 1987, as well as reruns of Family Ties, which I'm *sure* did the same.)

LoopyChew said...

"The Duel" pegged them as moving in there five years earlier ("remember when we put up those swords?" "Yeah, it was right when we moved in"), which means they found the apartment sometime in 2000. This means they found the apartment right out of college, most likely (since he would've been 22 at the time).