What is this feeling that's put you in your place?Oh! It was everything I had hoped for! And even more! Because Marshall wrote and performed a song about it!
The hot red burning on the side of your face?
You feel the blood rush to your cheek.
Tears start to fill your eyes,
and your lips are trembling and you can't speak,
and you're trying,
you're trying not to cry...
You just got slapped!
I have no idea whether that was an original Jason Segel composition like the legendary "Lady L" from "Freaks and Geeks," but The Slapsgiving Song was the perfect capper to a mostly-perfect sequel to the original "Slap Bet."
I say "mostly-perfect" for two reasons. One, because of the glaring continuity error in the montage of the first two slaps, where the first slap showed was actually not the first of the five slaps in question (which was Marshall's mighty backhand at the apartment) but rather the first slap of the episode (at McLaren's, back when Marshall thought he won the bet because Robin said she used to be married). For a show so geeky about its own continuity, in an episode that was one long ode to the continuity geeks in the audience, it was a glaring flub, and one I'd like to blame on the writers strike in some way. If not, fellow dorks, start composing your no-prize letters now to explain it.
(UPDATE: I checked with one of the producers, and he said they want to fix the clip of the first slap for future reruns, DVDs, etc., if possible. Sometimes, a mistake is just a mistake.)
Two, while the original slap episode featured two perfectly hilarious stories in the bet itself and the revelation of Robin's musical past, the A-story of "Slapsgiving" was a far more sober meditation on the nature of Ted and Robin's post-split friendship. It was really well played by Radnor and Smulders, and something the show has needed to address head-on for quite a while, but every time they cut away from Marshall and Barney and to anything Ted and Robin related, I began to feel like Milhouse in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," on the verge of tears because they haven't gotten to the fireworks factory yet. (If I had thought to record it, I could make my whiny "When are they gonna get back to the slap bet?!?!?!" my new ringtone.)
Still, the slap culmination lived up to the advance billing. Like Barney, I had wondered why the writers/Marshall tipped their (large) hands about the date and time of the third slap, as it would take away the surprise that made the second slap so much fun. But by having Barney question that and Marshall act unconcerned, it only made the whole thing funnier. I did wonder whether we were being set up for a bunch of Mamet-style double-switches and reversals -- finding out that Barney wasn't really scared of the slaps but was just acting that way to guilt Lily into postponing it, or that Lily and Marshall were in cahoots all along -- but the straightforward approach worked fine on its own. And did I mention there was a song at the end? And that Barney, even in pain, supplied the "whoa oh oh oh"s?
A few other quick thoughts:
-I think it should be mandatory that Robin have to say the word "sorry" at least once every other episode, if not every episode. It's never not funny, even when it's not the focus of a scene.
-Also, I talked to one of my many Canadian relatives yesterday and wished her a belated Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, and she told me, "Oh, nobody really cares about that up here." Of course, she's a non-French speaker living in Montreal, so her view on any things Canadian may not be representative.
-I knew a girl once who had a pierced Brosnan. She said it felt like her timothy'd Dalton, only suaver and with a better sense of humor.
-Of course Barney dressed as Borat for Halloween (sort of) last year; as I mentioned in my discussion of the "Douchebag of the Year" sketch on "SNL," Borat is one of the holy trinity of douchebag impressions, along with Ace Ventura and Austin Powers. I love Barney, but the guy definitely has a lot of d-bag pre-requisites.
-The Ted and Robin story wasn't all angst and fighting. After all, what other show would offer up Orson Bean (in another bit of classic "HIMYM" unreliable narration) playing a 41-year-old who says things like "We's gonna get silly, bitches!"?
What did everybody else think?