Tuesday, March 17, 2009

HIMYM, "The Front Porch": A Bridge game too far

Spoilers for last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I put on my sleeping cravat...
"Did you at least Tivo it?" -Robin Scherbatzky
That's two extremely strong episodes in a row, and if "The Front Porch" wasn't quite as legendary as last week's "Sorry, Bro," it still gives me hope that we're headed for a season-ending run as good as what we got last year after the strike.

Once you get past the plausibility issue of why the gang didn't simply DVR an episode to watch it at a more reasonable hour -- my wife thought it was because the networks don't want to mention ad-skipping technology, but Robin's line near the end makes it clear that they could have -- the background gag of Robin having the most eventful day in morning show host history took an already funny episode and kicked it up a level. My favorite bit was probably the first one, with Robin weeping as she delivered a testimonial to the friends at home who were too distracted to even notice, but all of it was funny (and funny only because it was happening in the background, on mute, and no one was paying attention). Well-done.

Barney slowly converting to Marshall's sleepwear philosophy was even better. The moment where Barney first spotted Marshall in the nightshirt and was so excited he had to check his pulse, then had to go on a long solo run of nightshirt jokes ("Something about Scrooge!") would have been enough to carry a lesser episode. Here, it was just one very hilarious thing among many, including Barney's porn fantasy of how the pajama suit might come in handy (which paid off in the tag), Marshall (and then Marshall and Barney) re-enacting the flying dream sequence from "The Big Lebowski," and the sweet scene of Barney asking Marshall to tell him all the wonderful things about marriage. It's a testament to Neil Patrick Harris that he could seem so innocent and pure in that scene, and so sleazy in the porn scene, and have it all work as one character, because Barney is at heart an overgrown kid. (He's just much better at operating in the real world than fellow arrested development case Michael Scott.)

The writers continued to find amusing ways to make Karen be awful in her second and final appearance (the "2000 chiantis" pillow fight made my skin crawl, as it should have), but they also used her presence to comment on how a group of close-knit friends like this would respond to one member dating someone they can't stand. Lily's behind-the-scenes manipulations also let the show toy with time and perspective again, as we see how Lily played an important role in scenes we know from the season two finale.

All that, plus Lily turning into Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, another glimpse of Marshall's Chewbacca impression, and the gag with Marshall's Creed CD add up to a terrific episode.

What did everybody else think?

59 comments:

Carolyn said...

Loved it!!! Lily's "you can't handle the truth" speech was brilliant! :)

fabarati said...

The part were Lily recognized which porn flick the scene was from was a great throw away gag.

fabarati said...

But, yeah, very funny episode.

Bryan said...

Very funny - I laughed til I cried. My wife's going out to find me a nightshirt today.

This show has borrowed off of and/or reminded me of Seinfeld many times before but never more so than in the gang's self-absorption in not watching Robin's show. The biggest difference being Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine didn't get their feelings hurt as easily as this group.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that Allyson Hannigan was playing the pregnant woman who went into labor and had her baby delivered by Robin in the background? She got to show off her full pregnant belly again!!

At least I think that was Allyson- I'm the last person I know without an HDTV....

fabarati said...

Didn't look like her to me... But I'm not good at recognizing people unless they look the way I got to know them (see blond lucy lawless, for instance).

Shannon said...

The picture Robin was holding up in her newscast was the same picture from the future taken at the end of "Intervention". That seems like a huge continuity error, are they messing with us?

Also, while I loved the episode overall, I was a bit annoyed by yet another revisit to the Ted/Robin romance. I think they've pretty much beaten that one to death, and I'm sick of seeing it, especially when there has been so little movement on the Barney/Robin storyline.

Michael said...

Nice fakeout with the "oh no, are they going to kiss?" shot at the end with Ted and Robin.

Adam said...

Indeed, where have we gone on Barney/Robin since the end of last season? Also, Lily is a sociopath.

But I really liked the episode. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

They were arguing over 2002 Chianti,not 2000s....sorry to nitpick.

Brian said...

I think they pretty much batted 1.000 in this one. We also mentioned why Tivoing was ignored, but Robin's line made it even funnier. What made me laugh the most was how some of them were facing the TV directly and still didn't notice.

Something that cracks me up I have noticed the past two weeks - McClaren's has the best-behaved and least inebriated 2 a.m. bar crowd in the entire world!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Shannon, I thought they handled the Ted/Robin scene very well. They're not going to get back together, but they'll always have feelings for each other. There's just that one insurmountable obstacle, but they're too aware of it for them to do anything more than talk idly about backup wives, or to briefly become sex buddies the way they did earlier this season.

BH said...

As soon as I heard "The Man In Me" start playing in the background and I realized they were partially recreating a scene from Lebowski, I literally pumped my fist and screamed in pure happiness.

I love this show...

MikeMac said...

Is it a testament to this show, or to those other media, that between the "Wire" references last week and "Big Lebowski" references this week they have pulled out two of the better episodes of the season.

I think the mark of any good comedy is its ability to maintain a dude-like quality. Is it me, or have Lebowski references become like a rite of passage as of late?

Anonymous said...

The baby momma on Robin's show isn't Alyson Hannigan. Proof: Face but also height (the actress was almost as tall as Robin).

Shannon said...

Yes, we know they aren't getting back together; she's not the mother, so another full-blown relationship between them would be too much. But I think they've already established the lingering feelings between them, and it's not necessary to keep making them a story point.

Then again, I may just be more irritated than is warranted because I have been waiting for some movement on the Barney/Robin storyline (such as Robin even acknowledging that Barney has feelings for her, or some indication that she knows he's alive in that way), and instead we keep getting Ted/Robin revisited. It would be nice if the writers would let them move on already.

srpad said...

I loved this episode! Everythng fired perfectly. My only regret (and it was a slight one) was when Lily admited to sabotaging Ted six times, I was hoping for some call backs to past in show Ted ex's (other than the mentions of Victoria and Stella).

srpad said...

I forgot to add my favorite gag that you didn't mention: Lily's idea of how to play Bridge.

EOTW said...

Gonna make this short and sweet: Robin + Barney = me happy. Ted + Robin = lame. Ted = D-bag. Got it?

Rick said...

I thought it was interesting that Lily's front porch fantasy didn't include Old Man Stinson.

But yeah, great episode.

The goat is going to show up any week now, right?

Anna said...

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference was the best! That's what I immediately thought of when I saw the man-gown.

mrsb said...

Yep, that was my only gripe with the show. Where was Barney on the porch? Couldn't he have at least popped by with a much younger woman? Or with Robin?

Anonymous said...

I have never been a huge fan of this show but keep watching occasionally because you love it so much and out of love of NPH.

This is the first episode that caused me to really laugh out loud, long and hard. I missed jokes because I was laughing through them. I will keep coming back for episodes like this.

The Charlie and the Chocolate factory pajama joke killed me.

Grunt said...

I actually liked this episode better than last weeks, if that's even possible.

My only issue, we know that Barney only owns one pillow so overnight guests don't become overnight guests, but it seems clear from both fantasy-pyjama-suit wearing Barney and real night-shirt wearing Barney that he now has multiple pillows.

It's just sad that I picked up on that continuity error, isn't it?

bsangs said...

I was so thrilled with the Lebowski homage that I nearly watched it following "24" last night. Too tired though.

Somebody mentioned it above, but Lily is truly certifiable! Wow. An outstanding episode all around. Glad the Robin-Ted bit was a fake out though, not sure I could stand another "romance" with them.

My favorite was Lily's version of bridge, mostly because I've no clue how it's played either.

Jennifer said...

Maybe Barney bought more, or wait, didn't Lily buy him stuff?

Anyhoo, I thought this episode rocked. I loved Robin's silent day at work. Liked how some serious stuff came in too. Not quite as into the nightshirts, but it was funny. Good job, show!

Hooks Orpik said...

It's kind of corny, but I bought the angle of watching the morning show live...The whole point was they wanted to support Robin, and part of it was getting up early/staying up late enough to watch it live.

Anyone could TIVO her show and watch it later in the day, but by then Robin would be back hanging out with them. If they watch it live they make the sacrifice that Robin regularly makes to better appreciate her work.

That's what I took from it anyways, even though I see how that's a cheesy point-of-view.

Andrew said...

Didn't Lily go shopping with Barney to humanize/de-Barney-ize his apartment when she stayed with him?

This was the first episode of this season that approaches legendary status. Any of the three plots would have been enough to make a weaker episode enjoyable. But to combine Marshall and Barney's philosophies on sleepwear (plus the Lebowski homage) with Lily pulling the puppet strings on Ted's relationships (with Lilly's A Few Good Men moment)? And then add the silent slapstick of Robin's show uncommented on in the background? Definitely makes this the best episode of the season to date. BRIDGE!

MCB said...

Jennifer, Lily took all of that stuff when Barney kicked her out. (What can I say, I love that episode!)

I find myself wishing Karen had stuck around at least one more episode ... both of the episodes featuring her were so strong, and I thought Laura Prepon was great.

Anonymous said...

Whether you guys like it or not, this show is ultimately about Ted and Robin. There is no way this show can end up with Barney and Robin together, while maintaining the premise that Barney and Ted are friends. The writers have gone out of their way to show that Robin and Ted still have strong feelings for each other. To that point, there's just no way to justify a show reality which involves Barney and Robin together and Ted happily still there smiling through it all. And frankly, I think Robin's strongest scenes are when she is with Ted. Ted really never has strong scenes, but that is beside the point.

Loren said...

It's killing me...does anyone actually sell a pajamasuit, or was Barney's made especially for the show?

Steve said...

I can't remember the last time I giggled, but that's exactly what happened during the whole pajama bit.

I instantly thought of Grandpa Joe Bucket when I saw Marshall, but the Peter Pan joke was great too.

I loved so many things about this episode, the suitjamas, NPH walking out of the apt while asking Ted to detail the breakup, the Col. Jessup speech, the Lebowski homage, and BRIDGE.

What an awesome, awesome episode.

Jenny said...

One thing I really liked was how the episode built on things we've seen Lily do in the past -- specifically, "Aldrin Justice." Her manipulation of Ted's relationships seemed perfectly in character, and most of the time I didn't think her actions were too heinous (only the Darth Vader gag involved actual lying; the other stunts, IMO, were just nudges in a direction Ted was too willing to go).

The nightshirt stuff was gold, of course. Loren, I think a pyjamasuit is something one would have to have custom made, and that is definitely something I can see Barney doing!

Greg said...

A very funny episode (along with 24, some really excellent TV last night). One thing that bothered me though, was Marshall retreating into the back with Barney while his wife was under fire from Ted. Was it because he agreed with Ted and just didn't want to get involved?

Pamela Jaye said...

I didn't quite laugh till I cried (perhaps Big Bang should be on second) but I did love the ... well the name of Robin's show (which I've forgotten) and the season 2 ender (there was something on the DVD about having to reshoot back then due to the blue french horn).

Later on, after having watched 3 shows way too slowly, I found that my next choice of what to watch was between House and Castle. Alas, there was no one to tell this to besides the duck sleeping on my chest. Darn. I chose House.

The thing I noticed almost all the time I was watching HIMYM was how many tricks they were using to hide Aly (I saw her on Ellen a while back, where she confirmed that, indeed, she was having either a boy or a girl ;-) it was cute. has she had "it" yet?)

I also really loved all the stuff going on in the "background" on Roin's show.

I also loved how the played "Bridge!" (I don't know how either. I once learned Canasta, and don't remember that either)

I also wondered why they didn't record Robin's show - but for some reason - only while they were not watching it. I can't imagine why I didn't wonder why they didn't do so regularly or "in the past." especially with the Super Bowl/Funeral episode.

I liked the backup wife thing too.
I'm also glad Karen(?) is gone

Andrew said...

The folks at Big Bang Theorey have taken a page out of the How I Met Your Mother Playbook.

http://pennyblossoms.com/

Anonymous said...

I loved that Barney kept repeating that he'd never watched Robin's show as Lily and Marshall were trying to pretend they had. Clearly, our boy had seen the show before.

jcpdiesel21 said...

I've never seen The Big Lebowski, so I thought that Marshall and Barney flying in their pajama shirts was a Superman reference.

I loved this episode so very much. So much good stuff!

Cory said...

No one has mentioned the funniest bit... when NPH is asking Ted to tell him all about how the breakup happened all the while slowly backing out of the room and lowering his voice. You can't write a joke like that for other sitcom actors.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I've never seen The Big Lebowski, so I thought that Marshall and Barney flying in their pajama shirts was a Superman reference.

Watch the YouTube clip I linked there. Then go rent Lebowski. Your life will be much richer for it.

Rick said...

I also want to throw some love at the return of "Something about..." jokes. Those are always great caps on strings of brilliance.

Tyroc said...

Lily is nutters!

I would think Ted would not forgive her for a long time for doing this even once, let alone 6 times. Not sure I bought that. It's a pretty horrible thing to do to someone you consider a friend. Especially the fact that he did it to help break up Ted and Robin. Crap move on her part and pretty unforgivable (and if Marshall knew, also pretty horrible on his part.)

Did like the nightshirt stuff.

A-T-G said...

I think I loved this episode! Especially Barney asking Marshall to tell him all about Marriage...me thinks this bodes well for his future (except the part where he wondered about having sex with other women, assisted ably by his wife).

Zack Smith said...

This episode reminded me of why I sort of hate Lily (not Alyson Hannigan, mind you). Since Season One, Lily has engaged in behavior ranging from destructive to psychotic when she has any doubts/insecurities about her idealized existence. This includes, but it not limited to: running out on Marshall days before the wedding; attacking Ted over the "Grinch" message meant to help Marshall recover; getting Marshall thousands of dollars in debt with her shopping; refusing to sell said clothes to pay for apartment repairs...the list goes on.

I really wanted to see Ted mad at Lily for a little longer than an episode. Hannigan plays psych-Lily quite well, but it'd be interesting to see a rift between Ted and Marshall develop.

The Ted/Robin thing at the end set up some intriguing conflict for Barney/Robin (yes, I analyze most episodes for their Barney/Robin potential). Despite what Ted indicated a few episodes back, he probably WOULDN'T be fine with their getting together. Just as Robin was a little bummed about seeing her "saftey" getting married earlier this season, it would really steam Ted's clams if his "backup wife" got into a meaningful relationship before he did -- with the most committment-phobic guy he knows. Plus, you'd have Barney in a uniquely insecure place over those lingering feelings. I really want to see this relationship happen, because it has the potential to take the storylines in some really intriguing directions.

Toby O'B said...

Probably not a reference many here might know, but Lily's actions made me see her as the heir to Bing Crosby in the TV movie "Dr. Cook's Garden": weeding out those who don't fit her view of how life should be in their group......

I just wish we had more examples of her sabotage.

Adam said...

Watch the YouTube clip I linked there. Then go rent Lebowski. Your life will be much richer for it.

Then watch the whole movie again, because you'll get too wrapped up in trying to follow the plot the first time to enjoy everything else.

Dan said...

Loved the episode, but I thought I smelled a new website when we kept seeing the Robin snippets in the background. I was hoping the pre-credits tag would be the gang finally watching the big show on MorningShowFiasco.com or some such...

EOTW said...

to Anon: Guess what? Last season or before, Future Ted referred to her as Aunt Robin to his kids. How can she be their mother and their aunt?

Drew said...

Yeah, the show's not building toward Ted and Robin long-term in any conceivable fashion. Aside from the fact that the writers have said so in interviews, the show speaks for itself.

In the season two finale, Future Ted says, "She did go on to live in [x], and...I met your mother." Clearly differences. The kids' pictures have been shown with the headlines, "Us and Aunt Robin." And the show has always, always, always made sure we recognize the narrator is Ted. I didn't think that last part would be necessary, but apparently there's conspiracy about the narrator being someone other than Ted, such as Barney. It's a ludicrous idea and not founded in reality. But it's out there.

Isaac Lin said...

As Ted and Marshall have already been shown praying to the gods of Tivo, I did find it odd they hadn't already made us of it to watch Robin's show.

Tyroc said...

Yeah, they said at the very end of the first episode, "And that's how I met your... Aunt Robin." Which to me took out all the "will they or won't they end up together" drama of their romance from the start. And yet they dragged it out for two seasons.

During their scenes together, no matter how well written at times, all I could think was "why are they wasting our time on this as we know Robin isn't the one he's telling his kids about?" Frustrating to say the least, and yet they like to go back to hinting at it.

Also, I didn't grow up in a household where we referred to my parents' friends as aunts and uncles, only our their siblings, so Ted calling her "Aunt Robin" to her kids also confused me the first time I heard it, as it implied Ted married Robin's sister.

And speaking of sisters, didn't Ted's move to town a few episodes back? I guess she left?

Heather said...

One problem: What about Barney? Is he on the porch? Oh nos!

Still, best part was Robin's eventful day and the whole Ti-Vo bit. Insightful and truthful.

Also great is how Ted and Robin did not kiss in the entire episode, even though it looked like they would. That really shows how they still are attracted, but have moved on and the maturity of both. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Guys, the show has spent 3.5 seasons on the Ted and Robin relationship. Whether they ultimately end up together or not, the show is about that relationship. And frankly it would have been odd if the writers didn't try to throw everyone off by throwing out some twists and red herrings. Barney is a great character, but it doesn't make sense in the reality of the show for he and Robin to become a couple. No doubt the writers have toyed with it, but I don't think it can happen if the show is to maintain any real basis in reality concerning this circle of friends.

Kenrick said...

i liked this episode. more so than last week's, which i didn't particularly care for.

i think it's time to bring back victoria - my fave of ted's exes.

jasctt said...

Exactly when are they going to start dubbing the Full House dude's voice on Ted? Those flash forwards to their old age had Ted speaking with his regular whine. when does he become Full House dad? somewhere in middle age and then back to Whjney-boy?

Anonymous said...

I had to watch the episode a second time to catch the actual dialogue while Robins show was on in the background I was so entranced by 'Come on, Get Up New York'. So many funny things, but 2 small things, while Lilly was addressing T&R relationship when they chose not to (very believable) she was in the middle of PLANNING A WEDDING. I buy Lilly as a well intentioned meddler, but, the timing and a rewatch of season 2 would not retcon that memory very cleanly. Second, Ted first fell in love with karen but his 'first' was Molly from 'First time in New York'. So Marshalls Johnson touching list was incomplete. Awesome awesome show though that is so continuity conscious, it made me that way, so blame the show for me noticing.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else think its weird to flash forward to an imagined future when the guy telling the story is in the 'real' future?

Aaron said...

From an interview with Segel on avclub.com today:

JS: How I Met Your Mother has been very interesting in that regard, because I think it’s a case of the passionate few versus the many. I was not expecting to do something for four years—let alone eight, because I think we have four more left on our contracts.

Pamela Jaye said...

Season 3, ep 3 - Robin refers to her date as Dr. Awesome

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