Tuesday, April 14, 2009

HIMYM, "Mosbius Designs": Sports Guy's world

Spoilers for last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I listen to a building...
"A hot guy telling you when you can and can't pee? That's the dream." -Robin Scherbatzky
This was just a funny episode, from beginning (Lily disappears for four weeks, giving the show an easy out to deal with the final stages of Alyson Hannigan's pregnancy before the finale, which they shot earlier in the season) to end (Marshall and Barney running from ninjas), and lots of things in between.

I like that the show has embraced Ted's douchiness (I had written in my notes "Ted's being a douche" about a half-second before Robin told him the same thing). And while Cobie Smulder's belly is finally getting distracting (especially since she was drinking so much during the episode), she's so charming and amusing at playing Robin in a bad relationship that I was able to overlook it. The office vs. apartment, assistant vs. boyfriend storyline could have been stupid, but the writing embraced the silliness of it (Ted and PJ communicating on speaker phone from 10 feet away, the fired PJ immediately moving to the couch to watch TV) enough that it worked.

The real highlight, though, was the Barney/Marshall stuff. Making those two co-workers has created a lot of fertile storytelling ground, here with Barney helping Marshall decide what Guy he wanted to be. The scene where Barney shot down potential ideas like Monty Python Guy -- "We are the Knights who say... you're fired!" -- was maybe my favorite thing in the episode, and the interaction of the different Guys built beautifully until we got to Creepy Backrub Guy massaging Marshall's shoulders while demanding that a fantasy trade(*) go through.

(*) This episode, by the way, strengthened my resolve to make last fall's fantasy football season my one and only foray into that world. Too much time and mental energy consumed for too little reward.

And with Lily out of action, Marshall got to step in as Barney's confidante about his Robin-love, and to find a clever solution(**) to everyone's problem by hiring PJ as a paralegal/Assistant Sports Guy. The brilliance of Neil Patrick Harris at this point goes without saying, but moments like Barney declaring Robin "the greatest woman on the planet!" and then desperately trying to change the subject without changing his tone of voice are nice reminders.

(**) I can't help it: when Barney called the plan "pure evil," I had to immediately go to Hulu to watch the opening scene from the "NewsRadio" episode of the same name. Go. Enjoy. I'll be here when you get back.

The show's now going to be in reruns for a few weeks until we get to the season-ending May sweeps episodes, and I have to assume that we're finally going to stop waiting for it with Robin and Barney and getting around to the potentially legendary coupling.

What did everybody else think?

50 comments:

fabarati said...

I found it hillarious...

But I kept thinking one thing during the entire episode: Where the hell is the goat? I know it's not Ted's birthday yet, and I just looked up the time of last years episode (28th of April), but it still has me worried. Will they pull it off? Will it be to Sitcomy? Will they pospone it again? Will it be a figment of Ted's imagniation, brought on by... eating a sandwich?

Chris in Dallas said...

If you search for it, you can easily find the punchline to the joke that ran Lily off...

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

What Chris in Dallas said; I briefly posted a link but then thought better of it on a "family blog."

Brian said...

Very good episode. We had fun pausing to see the many ways they tried to hide Cobey's stomach. My favorite was her walking out of the bedroom and in front of the lampshade when she woke up.

I forget the setup to the joke. :sigh:

Anonymous said...

How is it distracting that she is pregnant in real life, but drinking on the show? Those two things don't have anything to do with each other. She's not pregnant on the show! She's not drinking in real life! I think it's silly that we care about hiding bellies anyway. She's an actor- she's playing the part of someone who's not pregnant. Just like NPH is playing a womanizer when he clearly is not in real life. We don't hide him behind lampshades so that we don't see how gay he really is.

Alex said...

I tried to write a bleeped, family-friendly version of the punchline, but it sortof didn't work.

That joke wasn't even that dirty, though.

Bryan said...

I disagree with most - I found the ep just okay, the main reason being the Ted storyline. Yes he was douchey- and Robin called him on it- but his douchiness is just too annoying to be funny.

Also, maybe it was just me or maybe I missed something in recent episodes, but Barney pining again over Robin just seemed to come out of left field.

dave s said...

I enjoyed it, but it felt like a poorly veiled attempt to get Bill Simmons to talk about HIMYM in a column/podcast. Not that he shouldn't. This show should be right in his wheelhouse and I'm surprised he's not talking about it every week.

Alex said...

Oh - Brian, the setup is "What's the difference between peanut butter and jam."

The punchline involves horrific unnatural sex acts that are definitely against God.

Kevin said...

Jeez, even the name of Ted's one-man company is supremely douchey.

EOTW said...

One of hte lowpoints of the season. Not funny at all. 2 things:

1) Why are the not hiding CS's pregnancy a la AH's? She's clearly pregnant, even wearing preg clothes? What gives?

2) Can we PLEASe put an end to the "Marshall is hung" jokes? There's been a number of these throughout the series but when the actor whose character is supposed to be endowed shows his junk in a feature film for all the world t see and show's he's on the mall side, it negates this kinda thing. Just lame.

Discuss.

jasctt said...

TED (and the actor playing him) keep this show from greatness and always will.

LoopyChew said...

I think it's silly that we care about hiding bellies anyway. She's an actor- she's playing the part of someone who's not pregnant. Just like NPH is playing a womanizer when he clearly is not in real life. We don't hide him behind lampshades so that we don't see how gay he really is.One's a physical condition, one's something that's not immediately physically apparent. That they've been lampshading the pregnancies over the past few months with the objects both of the characters (okay, mostly Lily up until now) have been standing behind (and the one actual, practical use of Lily's baby belly) has made it hilarious that they decided to use an actual lampshade this time around (in my head, anyway).

Also, I cracked up about how that joke caused Lily to disappear for four weeks, because not only is punchline to that joke gross (and I revel in gross humor, including my miniature collection of dead-baby jokes), but anyone in on the meta-joke about AH's pregnancy knows that it's their way of keeping her off of the set while she's ready to spawn a child process. (BTW, the variations of the punchline I've heard have the tamer "my girlfriend" and the significantly less friendly one involving a partner unsuitable for even mentioning on a family blog. Anyone figure Barney went for the latter?)

As for the episode itself, I didn't love it, but liked it intensely. That Marshall knows about Barney's crush on Robin makes complete sense when you know that Lily and Marshall tell each other everything, and I'm hoping for more "conference calls" between the two of them in the episodes to come.

Amy said...

Sidetrack: Watching NewsRadio clip made me think WOW how fashions have changed in just 10-12 years. Ultra-short straight skirt, sheer PANTYHOSE, and a shirt open to reveal a bustier.

Nicole said...

I liked this one, especially because it made Ted's douchiness work as part of the humour. Barney and Marshall were the core of the show though and NPH is just spectacular in how he can be the emotional center of the show in one moment and the comic relief in the next.

Emmy please.

Also - Robin/Cobie is still being concealed fairly well, it's just that we are so used to seeing stick actresses, and we are looking for it, that it becomes so noticeable. Making her "drink" is just a further messing with our minds.

Steve said...

Alan, I was hoping you would pick up on my favorite part of the episode as it was subtelty at its finest, albeit for an instant.

Right after Ted fires PJ, and is angered when PJ sits on the couch to wait for Robin, PJ turns on the TV and says "Ooh, Wheel of Fortune." In a very brief maneuver, Ted flashes his eyes at the screen quickly because he loves the show, and then looks away when he realizes that he is mad at the situation.

It was very easy to miss, but the most rewarding part of the episode for me.

Also, I think Robin's heavy drinking is a meta joke because the writers are aware that their fans know about her pregnancy.

Though it wasn't my favorite episode, I love that the writers saved Ted. Turning their lead character into an absurd douche is novel, and it works.

Toby O'B said...

I watched the NewsRadio opening and forgot about enjoying it for the "pure evil" routine.

But then again, I'm 99 44/100ths% pure evil.

Thank you, Khandi......

EOTW said...

Stev: Sorry, but it doesn't make wor making the lead character a D-Bag. It's ok if the show wants to make him be a D-Bag all the time, but they try to make him senitive and sweet, which fails cause he's SUCH a D-Bag. Yes, you CA build a series around D-bags (SEINFELD had 4 D=Bags) but it rarely works and when your lead character is so annoying,

Tyroc said...

A really funny episode. Finally!

I actually didn't like the opening at all, as our not hearing the joke was an odd way to start a comedy (here's a great joke... but not for you, viewer.) I'm just glad they didn't make it the heart of the episode.

But otherwise, great episode. I didn't even hate Ted for a week.

Matt said...

One thing I want to give them credit for is that I assume all the Wolverine stuff was product-placement, but it felt natural and organic rather than forced. Yes, Barney and Marshall would think it's awesome to hear about the new overtime policy while wearing Wolverine claws.

Anonymous said...

how is the outfit that chick is wearing even on TV???!!!!

LA said...

TED (and the actor playing him) keep this show from greatness and always will.Amen.

Mo Ryan said...

My son and nephew were playing with those very Wolverine claws all day Sunday. So I found that bit funny.

As for the fantasy football theme, that was a hoot, and way too true to life. After a few years of being the supportive girlfriend/fiance/wife, I finally banned Dave from acting as his league's treasurer. Way too much stress.

Wonder if they'll ever have an episode that touches on how unbelievably boring a fantasy league draft can be for the significant others who are not playing in the league. That's a mistake I won't make again.

Oh, and there's only one rerun, on April 20, before the finale (which is May 18).

Mike F said...

really???

thought this was one of the few truly lame shows HIMYM has ever put out

I thought every office-place joke fell flat and was forced...and the stuff in Ted's place was pretty much one-note

The only thing I thought was funny was the way they excused Lilly from the episode

But hey, I know its impossible to be original and "awesome" in each and every one of 22 episodes...and obviously, we all have different ears for comedy, so glad some people laughed throughout...

Zack Smith said...

How I love the douchiness of Ted. I grow increasingly concerned that "Romantic Ted" is coming back, and I say thee nay! Let Romantic Ted be but an ocasional visitor, and the reign of Douche-Ted continue upon an epoch!

After all, everyone's a douche to someone else. Real, lasting love comes when you love each other both in spite of your douchiness and because of it. That's one to grow on.

Awesome how Marshall revealed he and Lily had been conspiring to get Barney and Robin on the same side of the booth. Nice continuity bit.

Also very cool that Marshall admits that he and Lily think Barney and Robin are perfect for each other. It is obvious to even them!

Robin is sort of a She-Barney. Not so much in the sleeping around sense, but that she tends to be casual in her hook-ups, particularly if they're convenient. It's an interesting conflict if Barney is the one ready for a relationship, while Robin is the one more into something casual.

For that matter, I want to see the writers dig into the implications of this relationship. It's easy to say, "Barney and Robin couldn't be together because it changes so much of who they are." Isn't part of every relationship how it changes you, perhaps unconsciously? It would be fun, and intriguing to see Barney and Robin struggle with trying to be awesome and committed at the same time.

Also, it would fry Ted's clams -- the most committment-phobic people he knows are hooking up, while his quest for committment has led nowhere. That opens up some new doors.

These are fictional people. I should not think so much about them.

So Cal said...

Pretty boring ep in my book. The Ted/Robin plotline dragged i thought, and the guy who played PJ was pretty annoying.

The more Marshall and Barney, the better

Anonymous said...

Everytime I saw weird back rub guy and he said "hey coworker", I kept thinking of Buster on Arrested Development giving back rubs and saying "hey brother".

Bryan said...

How I love the douchiness of Ted. I grow increasingly concerned that "Romantic Ted" is coming back, and I say thee nay! Let Romantic Ted be but an ocasional visitor, and the reign of Douche-Ted continue upon an epoch!Just when I was starting to feel bad for Ted because of all the Ted-haters ganging up on him you remind me - yep, they're right - Ted's just too douchey to live.

In all fairness though Ted wasn't always like this. In the reruns on Lifetime last night he was actually funny and not someone who I sat there and watched and thought "this show would be so much better without him" as I did in Mosbius.

Anonymous said...

I recently found Big Bang Theory and fell in love with it. So I decided to give HIMYM a try. It seems like most of the reviews of last night's episode are positive from the loyal fans.

If this is one of the shows funny episodes I'm going to pass because it did nothing for me.

Granola Mom said...

Anonymous HIMYM first time watcher:

Try renting HIMYM from the first season and watching it through. Many of last night's jokes were throwbacks to things that a first time viewer might not find funny. The show is SO worth another chance!

Mike F said...

even though I didn't enjoy this one particular episode, I do think its a no-brainer that HIMYM is a better and funnier show than BBT

Alan Sepinwall said...

I enjoyed it, but it felt like a poorly veiled attempt to get Bill Simmons to talk about HIMYM in a column/podcast. Not that he shouldn't. This show should be right in his wheelhouse and I'm surprised he's not talking about it every week.While there's definitely been a lot of overlap between recent HIMYM subjects and Bill Simmons obsessions (Lethal Weapon, Teen Wolf, Karate Kid), it's also true that those are obsessions of many comedy writers of a certain age, so it could be pure coincidence that they happened to nickname Marshall "Sports Guy."

But probably not.

And Simmons doesn't seem to watch much scripted TV these days, other than Mad Men and Lost. He's mainly watching sports and reality TV.

Melanie said...

Re: the brief scene of the office's Video Guy - My thought was that he was showing everyone the video of the dog pooping on the baby, the same video that Barney wanted so desperately to show Marshall when Marshall was trying to find out his bar exam results.

Anonymous said...

I love the mental image of hiding NPH "behind lampshades so that we don't see how gay he really is." :D

Alan, I've been surfing your archives lately, and I remember more than one of your reviews where you size up each of Ted's new girlfriends with the question Is she the mother?Also, I know we've had flash-forwards wherein we've seen the kids, sitting, listening annoyed to Ted's neverending story...

but the other discussion thread about the finale of Life on Mars, and the comparison with the finale of St. Elsewhere got me to supposing...

What if All of HIMYM is nothing more than the fevered imaginings of mental patient Ted, institutionalized without ever having married... and there is no mother, and no kids... never was, never will be...?

Too farfetched?

Pamela Jaye said...

giving the show an easy out to deal with the final stages of Alyson Hannigan's pregnancy before the finale, which they earlier in the season)shot? aired?

Anonymous said...

Pamela- since Alan was referring to the finale, I would imagine the missing word is "shot" as airing the finale before the season is over wouldn't make any sense.

Anonymous said...

Goat!

Crossing fingers for Robin/Barney. The punchline for the joke that made Lily disappear (genius!) is actually really dirty, but this is a woman who did know the exact title of a certian prono movie a while back.

Rachel said...

Along the lines of how you were so impressed with Big Bang Theory getting all the comic references correct...myself and my roommate were, as architecture students, thoroughly annoyed that Ted's architecture "story" is not a real story. Why you gotta give architects a bad name? We are not all douchey people who like to go on "inspiration walks".

The episode as a whole was quite funny though.

Mark B said...

Yes, it's dirty.

But it's also funny (in a Mel Brooksian sort of way).

Not a Misogynist said...

Bill Simmons doesn't have a patent on the title of Sports Guy and anyway it seems to me he is popular on espn.com for not sticking that much to sports and riffing on more pop culture and out and out comedy. He's the least Sports of all the espn writers. And btw, he also embraces Friday Night Lights, but I don't remember any heavy sitcom talk since Seinfeld vs. Cheers.

Also, for those who were offended by Marshall "calling slut" earlier in the season on Robin; he does have sort of a point, right? At this point they've sorta flanderized Robin on her attracted to whatever the crap people she runs into that week. Nothing wrong with a slightly slutty Robin, but 1st season Robin would have definitely found season 4 Robin slutty.

Anonymous said...

what that newsradio clip reminds one of is that newsradio is one of the best sitcoms of all time. i enjoyn himym but newsradio, wow, now that is one of the all time greats.

Question Mark said...

Simmons once commented briefly on HIMYM in a mailbag a couple of years ago. He loved the first season but was turned off by the early part of S2 when, to paraphrase, all of the male characters became wussified and the show became too much like 'Friends.' I dunno if he has watched since.

skittledog said...

Nothing wrong with a slightly slutty Robin, but 1st season Robin would have definitely found season 4 Robin slutty. Agreed. But I just gave myself a giggle fit imagining s1's Barney apoplexy if he could see himself at the mo. Hee. I don't think the changes in either of them are a bad thing - but perhaps only if they're going somewhere. Is it just me, or has Robin only really become a little slutty since sleeping with Barney? Like she noticed she likes him, figured out how screwed that makes her, and has been distracting herself ever since?

I also have hope that Ted can unite the better features of both romantic s1 Ted and douche s4 Ted - because honestly, I hated s1 Ted more. He was just douching at a subtler and more manipulative level that no-one called him out on.

Speaking of manipulation, I think my second favourite part was Barney calling Lily a diabolical puppet-master (hand gestures and all). Because she so is! All the talk of her (and Marshall saying 'we think' and the like) really made me feel like she was in the episode even though she wasn't. Good writing.

(My absolute favourite: Marshall's little stomp as he stormed off in support of Barney. Comic gold.)

To EOTW: I actually kind of loved the 'man and a half' line because... it doesn't actually matter what the reality is, it's Marshall's attitude that's great. This is, after all, the guy who's only slept with one woman. He's always oddly cocky about himself when it comes to sex, and it amuses me.

This is getting to be quite a long comment. Bottom line: for me putting Barney and Marshall together more is indeed one of the best things they've done this season. NPH and Jason Segel are awesome together. Plus, a ninja! (Was anyone else remembering the 'I wish we were ninjas!' line from long ago?) Loved the episode.

Anonymous said...

I think HIMYM would benefit from a firm end date the same way LOST has.

The show is spinning its wheels and becoming stale.

Is it time to meet the mother now? Is now the time for Barney and Robin to get together? Hard to say if you don't know if you have 3 seasons or 1 season left.

Otherwise we get pointless Stella story arcs or even worse, one about Mosbius designs.

Get a firm date, so the writers can outline a course. Then maybe the show will improve to where it used to be.

Jennifer said...

Anyone else love the rattlesnake noise every time Creepy Massage Guy got hands-on? Just me, then?

I liked it. I sorta thought Lily's exit was lame, but at the same time appreciate how they continue to point at the pregnancies and the stupidity of trying to hide 'em. (That said, Robin uh, really needed the treatment at the end there.)

Let's just ADMIT Ted's a douche! He's the Ross, after all.

Drew said...

I thought it was a solid episode, though maybe not spectacular. There were enough funny moments, particularly from Barney and Marshall, to make it a good half-hour. Barney telling Marshall's he was fired in different ways was awesome, and I loved their scene at the -- wait for it -- bar.

And some people think the Marshall penis joke bombed because Segel's on the small side? There goes any confidence I've ever had in myself (glass shattering).

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite moments was NPH kind of sighing "You do? That's so sweet!" in response to Marshall telling him he and Lily conspire to let Barney and Robin sit by each other. The man is a comedy genius.

In retrospect, I find it amusing that FutureTed DIDN'T say the the punch line ... isn't Saget famous for having told some filthy joke the best in "The Aristocrats?" I never saw it, but from what I understand, all these stand-up comics tell the same dirty joke, and supposedly, he tells it best? Or at least shocked everyone who saw it because everyone thinks of him as mild-mannered Danny Tanner from Full House.

Anne said...

Of course Ted couldn't tell the punchline! He's talking to his kids! That's why he is talking about sandwiches when actually he means joints, etc.

I was actually really disappointed finding out about the punchline after googling it. I shouldn't have done that. :)

Melanie said...

I'm with you, Anne. I had assumed it was a fake joke until I read comments here, then googled it. I think a fake joke would have been funnier; we could have tried to imagine the punchline without ever finding it out.