Monday, March 30, 2009

HIMYM, "Murtaugh": Guys like us don't die on toilets

Spoilers for tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I make sure the bad guys have been de-kaffir-nated...

Murtaugh was an extremely silly, extremely broad episode, but it was also one that played so well to everyone's strengths that it worked very well. There have been better, richer, more quintessential-y "HIMYM"-y episodes this season, but few have made me laugh as much.

Barney's quest to do every item on Ted's "Murtaugh list" in a single weekend gave Neil Patrick Harris abundant opportunities for genius physical comedy(*), whether it was Barney simultaneously feeling pain in his ear and his back, or Barney struggling to do a shot without bending, or pretty much anything he did while dressed for the rave.

(*) Was discussing the episode with Fienberg, who suggested it might be NPH's Emmy episode. I countered that, while it's a very funny episode, he doesn't get to play any of the emotional stuff he's also so brilliant at, so maybe not. Not that it matters, given that the Emmy voters will just vote for stupid Jeremy Piven again. Sigh...

Josh Radnor, meanwhile, got to offer up a new flavor or Ted's d-bagginess by becoming a prematurely old man, Jason Segel got to let out plenty of primal screams as Angry Marshall (Angry Marshall is never not funny; or maybe it's just Angry Segel that's never not funny), and Alyson Hannigan got to offer a brief taste of Angry Lily (though the best part of that was when she was off camera and Lily threw the chair at Marshall).

Cobie Smulders didn't get to do as much, other than say "Gentlemen's agreement!" and tell some Canadian jokes, but the Canadian jokes are always gold, and these were part of an episode with some of the series' most inspired pop culture gags. Simply doing an entire episode built around the Roger Murtaugh character from the "Lethal Weapon" movies was clever enough, but to then combine it with references to the Canadian predecessor to those movies, and with Bunny Colvin from "The Wire" as the stereotypical Angry Black Laser Tag Captain, and then to top that all off with a completely random appearance by Teen Wolf(**)? '80s movie heaven, my friends. '80s movie heaven.

(**) Yes, the ads during the NCAA Tournament gave away "Teen Wolf," but I'm okay with it for two reasons: 1)Hopefully, it got the show a few new Bill Simmons-type viewers for what was a very funny episode; and 2)The commercials didn't give away the fact that the scene featured a score that was a soundalike to the actual "Teen Wolf" music.

Some other thoughts:

• So, I think this is as appropriate a place as any to talk about the "Lethal Weapon" movies -- specifically, whether the increasing goofiness of the sequels, and their gradual defanging of Riggs from psycho Vietnam vet to wacky guy who's just mad about his dead wife, diminish the brilliance of the first movie. Discuss.

• Segel's Danny Glover impression was awfully good, but maybe not as good as my impression of Teen Wolf asking for a keg of beer. I spent a sad amount of time in college practicing that one.

• I know some have complained about the hiding of the two pregnancies, but I'm starting to get amused by it, particularly the one moment where they had to hide Hannigan's belly behind a box of orange slices and a dozen basketballs. On the other hand, am I the only one who gets disturbed watching Cobie pretend to drink beer?

• Are the weird Russian beers remnants from Marshall and Lily's airport tradition?

What did everybody else think?

58 comments:

Zack Smith said...

Dug the opening sequence tremendously. But the episode didn't grab me. I felt like the A-plot was too much like Barney running the marathon, the B-plot could have been on any sitcom, and the Canadian joke felt piled on after last week. That, and I'm a little tired of THE WIRE meta-references.

Like you, I enjoy that Ted-the-Douche is rapidly becoming the character's default mode. I have a sinking feeling Grand Gesture Romantic Ted will be back in force sooner than later, but Douche-Ted is both funnier and a better fit for the group

Isaac Lin said...

Regarding the "Lethal Weapon" series: the first movie had the goofy "We couldn't work this into the plot line, so let's just have a cool fight at the end" ending which always nags at me, but I can overlook it. The fourth movie to me betrayed the basic premise of Riggs being a lethal weapon and devoted way too much time on comedy routines, rather than just working it into the plot.

Regarding Canadian jokes, I think it works best when they don't draw too heavily from that well all at once. All the same, this episode was great HIMYM material.

Andrew said...

I was more bothered by Saget-Ted referring to "Lethal Weapon" as a film noir. In what universe? Sure, it's a bit dark, but it's clearly an action comedy.

l.b. weighs in said...

Am I the only one who thought, "finally we'll see the goat!"? Because if having livestock in your apartment isn't on the Murtaugh list it should be.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

Can I just note that some people really start to need reading glasses around age 30 or so, and by starting to wear them fend off larger vision problems later in life? And it's not hard to find reading glasses that sort of look like the ones David Tennant wears on Doctor Who?

I'm just sayin', is all, here.

Todd said...

I'm crossing my fingers that Piven's mercury excuse knocks him out of the running at this year's Emmys. (Not that it will go to Harris in that case. It'll probably go to Jon Cryer or something.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

I was more bothered by Saget-Ted referring to "Lethal Weapon" as a film noir. In what universe? Sure, it's a bit dark, but it's clearly an action comedy.

The first movie definitely has some noir stylings, even with the Stooges references and other jokes.

Adam said...

You missed the "Leroy Jenkins" spoof by NPH. An inside, inside joke, but the second or third time they've had a World of Warcraft reference slipped into the mix (not so slipped if you count the fact that one episode ended with in-game footage). Thought that was pretty pop-culture'd.

Also my wife and I have enjoyed them hiding Lilly's belly, how long can it last?

Jimmy White ya'll said...

did i miss a wire reference?

Alan Sepinwall said...

did i miss a wire reference?

Not unless you count the casting or Robert Wisdom in a role that otherwise has nothing to do with "The Wire" as a reference.

Jeff said...

The Mrs. and I are huge fans of the meta ways they're hiding Alyson Hannigan's pregnancy. The guitar was pretty good, but for my money it was the rack of basketballs that just happened to be at belly height...

.. and always good to see Bunny.

Chris said...

The Teen Wolf stuff with Marshall reminded me of this:
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/2005/11/4malla.html

Kat Coble said...

I, for one, am a sucker for all things THE WIRE and declare that television can throw WIRE crumbs at me all they want.

I am just a wee bit peeved that half the folks who seem to think it's cool now weren't enough of a force during the show's run to give us a fully-fleshed fifth season.

As for the bellyflages, I'm just going with it. Although I too am a bit uneasy whenever either of the women even pretends to drink.

Jeff said...

I think the original Lethal Weapon still stands up and Joe Pesci makes part 2, but it completely falls apart after that. I prefer Die Hard 1-4 any day.

Cameron Hughes said...

NPH's emmy episode will be the one where Robin and Ted start having casual sex. He's brilliant in it.

Allison said...

2 things:

1. I loved the faux-Dave Matthews music during the quick flashback to Marshall and Ted's beer bong--this show always has just the right funny pop culture references for people of a certain age.

2. The other day on "Fresh Air," they replayed an interview with Jason Segel from last year, and it was absolutely hilarious. Here's a link in case anyone else is interested in listening:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102232289

EOTW said...

2 things:

1) You could TOTALLY see AH's big oven belly in the b-ball cene where they kiss and she walks away.

2) RIP Andy H. Lorne was a great character!

Elyse said...

As Matter-Eater Lad said, there is nothing AARPish about a man in his 30s who wears David Tennant glasses. Every smart girl will make passes at a man in nice glasses, fellas. It's even sexier than being an architect.

Jennifer said...

I loved how Robin started going along with Barney on his quest. The dual phone message, robbing the apartment, the rave outfit...lovely. And she was completely fine, unlike Barney. And I loved how the moral of the story was, "Screw it, let's go TP Laser Tag." Also enjoyed Barney's faux-Cowboy-Cop moments with the Laser Tag guy. I wish this had been called "The Murtaugh List," though.

Methinks Ted was up at 4 a.m. because he was awake all night watching Lethal Weapons. Cheater! Pulled an all-nighter!

Lily's coverups are getting more and more obvious and hilarious. I keep wondering at what point she has to go on maternity leave on this show. Can they MAKE the basketballs any bigger? Oh, and suddenly she's a musical hippie!

Off-topic, I'd like to point out that a lot of the stuff you're "too old" to do generally amounts to "Now I can afford to pay someone else to do that." Hey, not all of us are big-time out of work architects who can pay someone else to do it, Ted! :P

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if that was Bunny Colvin! Thank you!

andythesaint said...

I think my favourite part of the Murtaugh list was "hang a poster without a frame", because I've been harping on that one for years. Good to see I'm not the only one who thinks that.

As for Lethal Weapon, I'd say originally the third and fourth sequels weakened the original, but now that enough time has passed, we can pretend that they never happened.

polkadotoes said...

I like this episode a lot. Angry Segel is always a good thing, almost as good as Dance Solo Segel!

I thought Robin got to show off her goods too. Like Jennifer said, she joined in on almost all the Barney stuff and was completely fine. I also loved the blinking light she had in her mouth that I noticed during the TP scene at the end. Just a funny little extra to the scene/rave outfit gag.

I also liked the reference back to Top Gun with the interaction between Barney and the Laser Tag manager. At least that is how I read it and thought it was a nice throwback to his awesome Halloween costume entrance.

Bart said...

Thoughts about "Lethal Weapon"? The fact that anyone can find anything funny in regard to Mel Gibson -- a far bigger real-life d-bag than Ted could be in a billion years of trying -- is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

"A gentleman's agreement!" "Huzzah!" Full win.

Glass said...

It was all very funny, an excellent episode; however, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was Lily who should be the hardass basketball coach and Marshall the sensitive, supportive person in the stands.

It just seemed like those characters should have been switched. Great episode, though.

MizRacy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MizRacy said...

I loved this episode!

It was rewarding to see Robin and Barney interacting with each other and don't even get me started on the gags. I swear I almost peed my pants a couple of times. What a broad spectrum of references!!

I majored in Theatre in college and must give kudos and much respect to Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and the entire cast. HIMYM might just be my favorite ensemble on TV. It's almost too much talent to compute.

On another note, anyone think about how random this episode was?! There really hasn't been a strong arch over the last few weeks, sans Douchey-Ted and Karen. But I'm going to try not to discount this ep. I have a feeling there are small clues being dropped in these last episodes that are going to be leading up to the season 4 finale. Then again, maybe I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

i loved how marshall shrieked lily no when she threw the chair.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I saw incorrectly, but all the high scores (on a board visible during the opening/Barney turns in his badge) belonged to "Stinson". Thought that was pretty funny, but what's wrong with me if I paid attention to the background instead of watching a very funny NPH?

Jordan from the 206 said...

Yeah, I don't get why the emmy voters are so in love with Piven. Reminds me of their love affair with the cast of Boston Legal. Seriously? Honestly, I don't get the big deal about Entourage, period.

Theresa said...

The bit I noticed that I haven't sen mentioned here yet was the All-Time High Scores list at the laser tag place said "Stinson" over and over.

I was so happy to see Bunny! Lots of funny stuff in this episode, but the Marshall/Lily story didn't really work for me even though I recently rewatched "Game Night" in which Marshall's domination at all board games is established. Still, a somewhat sub-par HIMYM is better than 90% of the crap on TV and for that, I am thankful.

Theresa said...

Ack! In the time I took to write my comment Anonymous 1:40am beat me to it! I apologize for the repetition.

LoopyChew said...

All this love for Robin this episode and not one mention about how she called Barney just to watch him wince in pain as he brought the phone up to his infected ear? For shame.

Pamela Jaye said...

scrolled thru to be sure I was not repeating. hope i didn't miss anything

Aly & Alexis had a bay girl on the 24th, according to People
which just posted an hour ago.

thanks to Whedonesque, where I just peeked to see the article about the death pf Andy Hallett (Lorne)

check the link to People for more details

Chyler Leigh (being shot from the waist up, or behind a clipboard - it's *far* less obvious than on HIMYM for some reason) is due in May and I don't know about Cobie

Pamela Jaye said...

I am spoiled by watching Big Bang first. Perhaps I shouldn't do that.
Then again, I've only seen one LW movie and only cause it was an anniversary "getaway" (hotels seem to be cheaper at Chritmas, or at least the Residence Inn does) and I couldn't really leave the room. (I did, however, rebel at watching Ghost)

There was a sideshot from far away where you could pretty much see Aly's size.
Moving friends seemed to be a theme on CBS from 8 to 9. I wondered whu on BBT they were not offered beer (by Wolowitz) just pizza.

I've never been to a 6th floor walkup. I think the place I stayed was only a 4th floor.

TL said...

The Mrs. and I are huge fans of the meta ways they're hiding Alyson Hannigan's pregnancy.

Same here. They've turned it into an extra joke. Although I don't think they can top a few weeks ago when she was standing behind a globe in her classroom.

Anna said...

Loved!! Loved!!!Loved!!! This episode!!!

Perhaps its because I'm a huge Lethal Weapon fan or because I'm over 30 and totally relate to the stuff you can't (or won't) do after 30, but this is one of my all time favorites.

I also got a giggle everytime they would slightly pause before saying "stuff"

It would be great if they would do a sequel with Marshall doing the "you always get f'd in the drive thru" Joe Pesci scene.

Carrie said...

I thought Robin's performance was really the best part of the episode, because it was so completely in character for her. She is immature and doesn't care about it. She would rather go along with someone's hijinx than get all worked up about what she's "too old" for. She can be endearing or annoying, but she is pretty consistent. It is much more enjoyable in the "show, don't tell" way of an episode like this one than in her typical "I don't want to settle down! I want a career and fun!" rants that she occasionally phones in, just so we remember that she is Robin and that is her deal. Super strong episode for Smulders.

Steve said...

Great episode. I loved that it centered around Roger Murtaugh, and even included the movie clip.

However, I was disappointed when they took the direction of pairing Barney's quest with a new challenge for Ted. But at least it was douche-Ted.

Allison, I too thought the music sounded like Dave Matthews and agreed it was a great touch.

I saw I Love You, Man after work last night, and came home to HIMYM waiting for me... it was like a Jason Segel encore. (PS, see the movie. It's very enjoyable and Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are great as always).

Karen said...

I was just happy to see Dauber as Marshall's dad.

Did anyone else think that Segal looked like he was going to crack up a couple of times during the scenes with Lily in the gym?

AndyW said...

I just watched that streaming at work. It took every ounce of my strength not to do a massive spit-take when Teen Wolf came on.

Eldo Owens said...

Congratulations on the baby daughter Alyson Hannigan!

Satyana?

Cory said...

I still love how they get to have it both ways. Narrator Ted won't say "sh#t" to his kids, but he will tell them about the time he had a threesome.

I could care less about the consistency as long as the narration makes the story funnier.

Anonymous said...

Actually, in the Tricycle ep, SagetTed mentions that some stories are better left untold....and this was one of those stories.
So, he never actually tells his kids that story - that was just for us, the viewers.

Anonymous said...

Great episode. Loved that Barney even wore a tie with his rave outfit.

Anonymous said...

I also loved this episode. In par, because I recently started to question whether I'm too old to do certain things too. The "I'm gonna go do laundry at my mom's" line is what sealed it for me. Great stuff, in part because it was totally relatable. I didn't love the basketball storyline as much (it felt a little out of character for Marshall) but the Teen Wolf gag at the end had me laughing harder than I've laughed at anything in a while.

Kensington said...

Somehow I manage to forget all about the pregnancies when I watch HIMYM. I'll notice Cobie's belly sometimes, and it still doesn't translate. "Isn't that interesting," I think, "Robin has a bit of a belly. How nice that she isn't rail thin."

I come here and read all the comments, and then by next Monday I've forgotten again.

Anonymous said...

I was more bothered by Saget-Ted referring to "Lethal Weapon" as a film noir. In what universe?

The joke here is that you want your kids to think you're obsessed with something of more "quality" than Lethal Weapon. ;-)

Anonymous said...

thought it was a weak episode myself. a little too sitcom-y. some of the items on the 30 list definitely made me chuckle and there was certainly funny stuff but it felt a little long...the teen wolf was lame.

Michael said...

There is an unbelievable story from Scituate Massachutses which, had it come out earlier, would have clearly been the inspiration for Coach Marshall. It's a bit long but well worth the read.

http://www.patriotledger.com/sports/x575725578/-Green-Death-coach-resigns

sueb said...

I was more bothered by Saget-Ted referring to "Lethal Weapon" as a film noir. In what universe?

-----------
I figured it was just continuity that Saget-Ted is still Pretentious Ted. Lethal Weapon ain't film noir. He just can't admit that he likes low brow "stuff".

Heather said...

It was very HIMYM-y and did help with the continuity of the story. Its too early to say whether this will be NPH's Emmy episode, but the physical comedy he gave was pretty funny. I agree that this could have been on another sitcom, but the laughs wouldn't have come out.

Angry Marshall and Angry Lily are always funny.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was funny, although I was annoyed that the Marshall/Lily story ended the way it did. Competition's part of the fun, at any age. This sort of "everybody wins" stuff translates to "nobody wins" to real kids, who are more than smart enough to see through it. I'm young enough to have been a kid when this sort of stuff was taking off, I can remember.

Also, I didn't think about it, but an earlier poster suggested it would've been funnier if Marshall and Lily's roles were reversed, and I definitely agree. I also think Alyson Hannigan's material is starting to repeat too much for my tastes.

Zachary said...

Great episode, i thought. I'm always excited to see any THE WIRE references/actors appear anywhere o tv. douche-ted is definitely comedy gold.
as to the NPH emmy, i don't think this episode is the one that will put him over the top. he has great emotional scenes in other episodes. and frankly, despite it all, jeremy piven is a fantastic actor who effectively carries a show with both comedy and emotion.
all in all, loved the episode!

nfieldr said...

Alan, I was really bummed to find out that the youtube link was the scene from the actual Teen Wolf movie and NOT a video of your impression of that scene. *sigh*

sophie said...

BENEFITS will probably be NPH's emmy episode. there he shows greater range. plus i think that episode is funnier, and he is funnier in it as well.

i love cobie. i think she is all sorts of awesome, i think she is not appreciated enough.

Anonymous said...

Even though I read about it every week here, I never really notice any of the things that hide the pregnancies.

I also wished that the Marshall's beer pong would have been name Murtaugh, I think that would have been hilarious

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting if on the inevitable DVD they replaced "stuff" with the real word -- if somewhat less funny.