Spoilers for "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I come up with the appropriate cliche to describe the situation...
Stupid raised expectations. After "Slap Bet" aired, I talked myself into the idea that "HIMYM" had made The Leap, ala "Seinfeld" after the Keith Hernandez episode, where it would be consistently brilliant every week. And then week after week after week, I had to feel disappointed that an episode wasn't as magnificent as that one, until I finally I made peace with the idea that "Slap Bet" wasn't this show's "The Boyfriend," but rather this show's "The One With the Embryos," a high water mark that couldn't be equaled on a regular basis.
So having accepted that, what happens? The New York Times goes and runs a story about tonight's episode, comparing it to "Slap Bet" -- or, at least, discussing how this episode, like "Slap Bet," would feature immediate bonus footage on MySpace. And, rightly or wrongly, I got myself worked up for another masterpiece, and instead I got... a pretty decent episode. Funny, but not remotely legendary.
Obviously, the Barney one-liner factor was high, though the best line ("You know when you should give that to her? 1850!") was reminiscent of recent jokes from "The Office" ("Not right now, but ask me again 10 years ago") and "30 Rock" ("I'm expecting a call from 1983"). But for once, the non-Barney story outshone the Barney one, as the contrast of Lily's virginal bridal shower with all the grannies and the nuns and the little girls with the ticking time bomb that was Robin's inappropriate gift ("What color is it?" "... Black.") made the episode for me. Lots of great bits there, from Lily failing to read Robin's mind to the way Cobie Smulders was able to show you Robin's desperation even when she was in the background and out of focus. And the payoff, with the old ladies' fondness for "Sex and the City" (the watered-down TBS version, of course) erasing Robin's shame while sending Lily's skyrocketing, was very unexpected but perfect.
The stripper storyline was okay but not overflowing with awesomeness. Felt a little predictable in a way this show usually isn't, even when they're doing a standard sitcom plot (see the B-story). It has, however, ruined my desire to ever put my daughter back on her Hippity-Hop, so thanks a lot, Bays & Thomas.
What did everybody else think?