Monday, November 03, 2008

HIMYM, "Happily Ever After": Ted has fear! A thousand times no!

Spoilers for tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I translate my life into hockey terminology...

Huh. "Happily Ever After" started off as a flat episode (the gang being annoyed at Ted's non-reaction to being dumped by Stella), then took a turn so stupid and bad sitcommy (hiding under a table?!?!?) that even all the dialogue about how stupid it was couldn't save it -- and then the flashbacks started and it took a marked turn for the better.

Lily and Barney's flashbacks were one-joke, but each joke was a good one, and the scenes ended before they got old. (Also, Alyson Hannigan still looks convincing as a ninth grader.) And Robin's flashback to her gender-bending Canadian upbringing was both funny and sad. (Though the soap opera music joke -- Robin's dad was played by daytime drama vet Eric Braeden -- fell a little flat.)

But where "Happily Ever After" really started to click was in the cab ride. Marshall's burning need to see Ted lose his temper finally let Jason Segel unleash his inner whackjob in a way that the show almost never does, even in episodes where Marshall is supposed to be wigging out, and I can't remember the last time I liked Josh Radnor as much as I did as Ted exploded about Stella moving to New York for Tony. (See? It wasn't necessarily Ted's stupid anti-Jersey bigotry I objected to; it's that they didn't do anything funny with it last time.)

This cleans the slate on Stella once and for all, and I'm hopeful the show moves away from Relationship Ted for a while.

What did everybody else think?

39 comments:

zacksmithwriter said...

Your post's header has monkey-strong bowels girded with strength like the loins of a dragon ribboned with fat and the opulence of buffalo... dung.

Ted's (imagined) rebuff to Stella is something I wish I'd been able to say in the past after a dumping. Sigh. But at least she gets to go off with her oddly pink family.

I wonder if Marshall's "Want to have a catch?" at the beginning was a shout out to WALK HARD?

Michael said...

My favorite part (disclosure, I'm Canadian) was when Robin said "And things went North." It was small, but a great line.

It was a pretty enjoyable episode overall.

Nicole said...

The last ten minutes were good, the rest was only meh. The Canadian jokes were pretty weak, although it would be interesting for Robin's father to show up in another episode.

Drew said...

I'm with you: it started off unbelievably weak and then slowly worked its way to a really stellar and fun episode.

Loved everything about the final five minutes or so, with the cab ride, angry Ted, excited Marshall, the "wrong choice" fake out, and the nice life lesson at the end.

Also, I really enjoyed a few other gags, like the quick shot of Barney sitting under the other table.

I can't decide how I felt about Robin's flashback. I thought it was funny, and I thought Cobie was heartbreaking as she let out her anger against her dad, but I kind of like to think she was just a cigar smoking/gun toting woman because that's who she is. This made it seem like a bad thing, whereas she's always seemed to embrace that life. I guess it's not all mutually exclusive.

It was nice to have a Robin Sparkles reference, also. Those are never unwelcome.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It was nice to have a Robin Sparkles reference, also. Those are never unwelcome.

And in some ways this episode helps explain Robin Sparkles as Robin Charles Scherbatzky Jr's massive overreaction to the boy thing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Your post's header has monkey-strong bowels girded with strength like the loins of a dragon ribboned with fat and the opulence of buffalo... dung.

Soon the super karate monkey death car will park in my space.

erin said...

I thought it was really pretty bad until the Robin flashback, and then the ride in the car. And I loved the imagined tell-off--wouldn't we all like to be that self-assured and confident when we tell our ex how good they had it? And then they agree? Beautiful. But the under-the-table stuff was so cliched sitcom--I couldn't believe Carter-Bays did it. I expect more from them!

Not terrible, but overall, this season has been surprisingly meh. I'm underwhelmed. And they're underusing Jason Segel!

Anonymous said...

Once again I laughed much more during Big Bang than I did for Mother.

Sheldon is becoming one of my favorite characters on TV.

Jeff said...

It started out slow but I thought the last 10 minutes made it one of the best episodes of this season. That might say more about this season than the episode, though.

Of course, anytime Marshall's quotes Star Wars, I'll laugh.

We need more Barney and Marshall and less Ted for the remainder of the season.

John said...

The taxi cab ride and the scenes with Stella afterward were excellent. I was happy to see "hopeless romantic" Ted return and replace "relationship" Ted. Also, Marshall in the car was great. From freaking out to Star Wars he played it all up really well.

Marsha said...

I loved Robin's real name - acknowledging that Robin is still a boy's name in Canada.

Yeah, the table stuff was weak, but I am so comfortable with these characters that I didn't care. The only thing that annoyed me was knowing that she was still there when they came out the first time - way too cliche for writers this talented.

And the "in the crease" line (and all that came before it) was fantastic.

DonBoy said...

I was expecting that we would learn that Robin's extremely unlikely childhood in Lex Luthor's mansion was not quite as shown. Incidentally, the "squamish" match is a comedy in-joke and refers to this.

Dirk Digler said...

It took me about 2 minutes to associate the post header with the appropriate cultural reference. I recognized the style of the words but not the words themselves, and agonized over it for the interim (Arrested Development...no...Freaks and Geeks...not even close). I feel especially ashamed because I spent all of Sunday watching Season 3 of my shiny new NewsRadio full series box set.

As for HIMYM...they just aren't finding their groove this year. Moments are good, but the episodes in general lack consistency of quality. I have to agree, though, Ted getting mad was pretty damn good. Radnor gave his single best performance of the series in that 10-15 seconds of rage/revenge attitude in the cab (though the associated flash-forward-fantasy lacked that energy).

Isaac Lin said...

As Cobie Smulders is from Vancouver, I believe the mention of the Squamish hockey tournament is a reference to Squamish, British Columbia. Squamish is off the highway on the way from Vancouver to Whistler, and is known to rock climbers as the location of the Chief, a 700 meter granite rock dome.

DonBoy said...

Mmmmm...ok, other Squamish possibility noted.

Steve said...

Had some great moments.

Barney was great in both the flashback where he brought home two girls not realizing Ted was home, and the "Barney Stinson, Attorney at Law. Let's talk about getting you off."

I also loved Robin's joke about using hockey terms to describe sexual activity.

Finally, I know this is not a political forum, but am I the only one who thought that Ted's speech was a political double entendre. I mean, the night before this election, and Ted's perfect speech is "you made a mistake. You chose the wrong guy. Have the last eight years taught you nothing." There is no way that the writers were not being politically subversive.

I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the statements, but merely analyzing the show.

Anonymous said...

Hey ZACKSMIH-

Field of Dreams...look into it

Anonymous said...

In The Crease

LA said...

We need more Barney and Marshall and less Ted for the remainder of the season.

Indeed.

Still not feeling the magic this season.

LAP said...

I live in Mn and there was a commercial interruption during the episode that made me miss a huge chunk of Robin's flashback, and I'm pretty bitter about it.

Jennifer said...

I didn't mind the table thing- this show has done worse "sitcom" crap in the last year, and it led to some interesting bits, especially Robin's. And if they bring back Barney's prison girlfriend when she gets out, I'll certainly be amused. Or Robin's evil dad. Incidentally, how come Marshall didn't get featured too much in that?

Yay for the end of Relationship Ted for awhile.

I have to say I pretty much gagged on the Happy Family (TM) stuff at the end. So syrupy, plus um, it's just so easy to slip into Happy Family after 8 years of "daddy won't marry mommy until she wants to marry someone else?" Barf.

Drew, who's to say Robin didn't enjoy manly stuff? She did voluntarily do it (and seemed to enjoy it). I think her issue was that she had to be SO manly she couldn't even make out with a guy, and her father denied that side existed. It would be awkward even for a tomboy straight girl.

Anonymous said...

This was the first episode this season I thought was actually consistently funny. I liked it a lot until it turned out that Ted telling off Stella was a fakeout. The real ending was painfully, tv show lame.

OTOH, Big Bang Theory has been hilarious this season. Much more satisfying that HIMYM.

dez said...

The Canadian jokes were pretty weak, although it would be interesting for Robin's father to show up in another episode.

No, no more Victor Newman on HIMYM! Heh.

My favorite bits were Barney's shenanigans and Robin's hockey metaphors, and of course, Marshall finally pushing Ted into anger. Otherwise, a pretty meh episode. I, too, am glad that Relationship Ted is done for a bit. Wouldn't mind Macho Business Donkey Wrestler Ted, though.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"So syrupy, plus um, it's just so easy to slip into Happy Family after 8 years of "daddy won't marry mommy until she wants to marry someone else?" Barf."

Always remember: STELLA IS A PSYCHO HOSE-BEAST.

Anonymous said...

Barney yelling "My leg is asleep!" while everyone else in the cab was shouting advice to Ted was my fave.

Steve said...

Am I the only one who hated the fake "You made the wrong choice" speech?

Either Stella's happy with her choice or she isn't. If she is, then Ted's speech comes off as lame and pathetic sour grapes. If she's unhappy, then Ted's speech is cruel, malicious, and serves no other purpose than to hurt her.

Either way, it doesn't make me like Ted.

Steve said...

Also, I echo the other comments about The Big Bang Theory. I had given up on this show last year, and only kept watching it because my wife did. But this season, it's consistently funny. Alan should really give it another shot.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan should really give it another shot.

My wife likes it, and so we often wind up watching it after HIMYM. Still not impressed. Some funny lines here and there, but I still think the show's doing a lot more laughing at its characters than laughing with them.

jcpdiesel21 said...

I don't understand the complaints that this show gets "too sitcommy." This show IS a sitcom. Granted, it's not like every other sitcom out there since it plays with the timeline quite a bit and is pretty smart, but still, if you boiled it down, it's a sitcom. That complaint has never made sense to me.

I've really been enjoying season 4 so far. There have been episodes that haven't been as good as others, but I can't think of an outright loser so far this season, where I can easily think of a few from season 3 (i.e. Barney and the yips, oy).

Rich C said...

As usual, Robin was my favorite. "We only went as far as the blue line. And 'in the crease' speaks for itself." were genius. (Ironically, if you are in the crease, the goal is disallowed and you don't score...)
"Robin Charles, Jr." cracked me up, but I missed the specific Robin Sparkles reference though. Can anyone fill me in? Thanks.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I missed the specific Robin Sparkles reference though. Can anyone fill me in? Thanks.

Robin says she moved in with her mom, grew her hair out and became a Canadian teen pop star. Definite overcompensation.

Stef said...

I agree that Jason Segel is fairly underused, and I love seeing that manic energy come forth.

I don't thinks qualifies as a spoiler, but Alan feel free to delete if it does. I saw an announcement in Entertainment Weekly that Allyson Hannigan is, indeed, pregnant. (A baby Wesley or Willow is on the way!) I wonder if they knew that when they filmed the flash-forward of Lily pushing away her drink... seems like they may incorporate her pregnancy into the show.

Pamela Jaye said...

I'm going to say something completely different.

Last week, my brother's girlfriend broke up with him.

This week she got engaged to another guy.

I thought that the episode was very good emotionally.

And I loved what Ted said to her in his imagination. He didn't whine, plead or yell - he just told her. It was a good thing to say.

My thanks to the writers.

(and now, for me, I wonder how I will feel about Elliot, when Scrubs returns. cause the characters just weren't all that different, IMO)

SoNSo1 said...

But Jimmy has fancy plans, and pants to match.

Surfed on by from a link at thnd and saw the title to this post. Couldn't help but drop a little NewsRadio flavor in as well.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone think that Barney dating the girl in prison was a little too Seinfeld?

Kensington said...

I was disappointed that flashback Marshall had current Marshall’s haircut. One of the things I love about HIMYM is its tendency to adhere to its own continuity, so it was disappointing that they let this slide, given how precise they’ve been with Lilly’s flashback hair in the past.

Also, Alan, I see where you're coming from with Big Bang Theory, I'm very sensitive to the distinction over whether the writers are having fun with the characters or making fun of the characters, and although it's still up in the air as far as that goes, I think they are getting better at identifying with the geeks more.

That said, it would be nice if Penny could be allowed to occasionally appreciate their qualities rather than pretty much always finding them too geeky. Frankly, it makes her less interesting that she's so closed-minded toward them.

Pamela Jaye said...

maybe it's my geekiness that makes me laugh at TBBT. or maybe it's my brother's.

there are geeks and there are geeks.
there are the comic book nerds, the computer nerds, and the full-out big brain physics nerds. (and various cominations thereof)

my roomie loves scifi; my brother likes it but prefers Science Fiction; we all speak varying levels of "flash the BIOS"; they like LOTR, none of us are into action figures (save my Captain Archer) or comic books - but my ex-husband was.

So I have some geek experience (I went to church with guys from MIT)

my friends are mostly like Tim Taylor, only with gigabytes and megahertz, arrr arrr.

I like that... um ... Leonard tries to fit in socially and and actually is pretty much an adult with concern for other people, while Sheldon is the epitome of the stereotype.

I'm sad that Penny only dated Leonard once, for no apparent reason. (Oh and Raj is justt cute - except when he's drunk)

I married a guy who was not into sports - on purpose - and found myself a Trek widow (with Trek Toy Debt)

I have friends with Aspbergers who aren't as annoying as Sheldon. But he's funny, as fish out of water, from T'Pol to Mork to Anya, always are. (Anya's my favorite). Of course Sheldon is human - ostensibly ;-)

I really find Penny reasonably tolerant, compared to a lot of girls who look as good as she does.

The Moist guy is just plain annoying. I'm sure he is meant to be as unsympathetic as he is...
For a female POV? Ick!

The others are salvageable

Kensington said...

The idea that Sheldon has Asperger's is what really makes The Big Bang Theory stand out for me. I don't know if the producers have actually said that he does, but I assume it's true, and it gives the show an undercurrent of pathos that I really find compelling. It even lends the show a semi-tragic tone at times.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't understand the complaints that this show gets "too sitcommy." This show IS a sitcom. Granted, it's not like every other sitcom out there since it plays with the timeline quite a bit and is pretty smart, but still, if you boiled it down, it's a sitcom. That complaint has never made sense to me.

The "sitcom" complaint comes with an implied "bad" at the front of it. Yes, "HIMYM" is a sitcom, but when it's going well, it transcends all the bad stuff we associate with shows like "Gary Unmarried" or "According to Jim" or whatever. But there are times when the characters' behavior is so far removed from reality that it starts to remind me of the bad sitcoms, and not the good ones.