Monday, September 21, 2009

How I Met Your Mother, "Definitions": Whip it good!

Spoilers for the "How I Met Your Mother" season five premiere coming up just as soon as I remember to call you on Tuxedo Night...

The later episodes of "HIMYM" season four had to tread water because the writers wanted to end the year on Robin and Barney getting together, and because of the complications created by Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulder's pregnancies. Lily's back full-time, Robin doesn't have to spend every episode in the booth at MacLaren's, Robin and Barney are a couple of sorts, and so we can all get on to business, funny and otherwise.

I've reached the point where I no longer care about clues to the Mother's identity until we reach the point where we hear Bob Saget say, "And that, kids, is how I met your mother." So the Mother apparently being in that Econ lecture hall doesn't matter to me. On the other hand, I like that the writers (including basis-for-Ted Carter Bays) have embraced the character's inherent douchiness and have turned it into a conduit for jokes. Ted-as-professor is a bit of a retread of Ross-as-professor on "Friends" (also featuring a character with a high smugness quotient), but if it gave us Ted with a bullwhip, and Marshall egging him on to whip stuff with it, I'm on board.

The episode's highlight, though, was the dynamic duo of Barn-Man and Robin, and their attempt to be casual sex buddies een as Lily tried to insist they were anything but. That storyline offered us Barney's attempt to apply the rules for the safe handling of Mogwai to sexual conquests, Robin going all Canadian at the Rangers game, and Barney cowering in fear after sucker-punching Brad. Neil Patrick Harris (who rocked the Emmys, even if he didn't win one) and Cobie Smulders just work together, but in a way that's not going to disrupt the comedy.

Solid start to the season. What did everybody else think?

46 comments:

Mel said...

Great start to the season. Ted's douche-quotient was just right, humorously annoying but not as unbearable as he often got last season.

And NPH was ROBBED last night!!! If he had lost to, say, Tracy Morgan, it would at least made some modicum of sense, but to Jon Cryer? For Two and a Half Men? As Seth and Amy would say, "REALLY?!?!?!?"

JD said...

It's going to be really cool seeing Barney in a relationship this season. The last oversexed character to settle down that comes to mind is SATC's Samantha. I've always liked Barney's constant sleeping around qualities (to combat Lily and Marshall's occasionally too cute/perfect relationship), but I look forward to seeing him struggle in a relationship and "man up" a bit with his character.

Still a bummer NPH lost out on another Emmy, but he's certainly earned more respect from the industry thanks to his great hosting skills last night.

Chris said...

Really great episode to start the season on.

Holy crap, this show looks beautiful when it gets off sound stages and backlots. That shot of Ted running through the campus with his comically oversized photo of the Empire State building was gorgeous.

erin said...

I thought it was just fantastic. I LOVE Barney and Robin together, because they complement each other in a way I never thought Robin and Ted did. And NPH is gold, and Cobie Smulders just increases his awesomeness quotient.

A little confused about the mother--she was in the Econ class, or in his Architecture class?

Thought Ted was perfect, and yes, they have his douchiness JUUUUST right.

But the highlight was Marshall, and I couldn't stop giggling every time he snapped that bullwhip. Hee!

Oh, and the ladies looked GORGE last night at the Oscars. It's so great to see them back and everyone is at the top of their game! Yay!!

Rinaldo said...

Excellent start to the season. So glad to have both actresses back on the job fulltime, and the story kicked into new and promising directions for both Ted and Robney (Barnin?). A welcome little return appearance by Brad too.

It hardly matters in the long run if NPH ever wins an Emmy; between this and the Tonys, 2009 is the year he established a position as Mr. Magically Indispensible in show business. (And by the way Alyson Hannigan looked amazing in the cast's group appearance last night.)

Cait said...

I heartily agree with you Alan, I am so over trying to figure out who the mother is. That schtick got old about two seasons ago.

Really great episode though.

Zack Smith said...

Boy, you know Jason Segel was having a GREAT time with that Indiana Jones whip. I loved Ted's enthusiasm for the gift as well.

As has been mentioned, Douche-Ted now seems to be a permanent aspect of his personality, but well-balanced-out by more realistic nerusoes and human moments.

Oddly, the best Douche-Ted moment was when Robin went on about how Ted had ruined her for other guys, followed by Saget-Ted chiming in with, "Of course, I wasn't there to hear this conversation, but..." Techinically, not a Ted scene, but that was a good psyche!

NPH has apparently conquered the world. Good for him, but I worry NPH levels might be reaching the saturation point. Let us assume this past week represents the peak for a while, and we can just enjoy him as Barney for now.

...I want a fedora and a whip.

Verification wordL "Pation," which is almost "patio," which made me think of MAD MEN.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

I didn't miss Lily at all during Allyson Hannigan's sabbatical last season, and in this episode she was intensely unpleasant to watch -- I daresay she may have approached Stella levels of unpleasant, even. Bays & Thomas might want to dial that down a notch or seven.

Karl Ruben said...

@M-EL: Yeah, Lily was a bit insufferable this episode. I think it works much better when they give those girly moments to Marshall. How much better wouldn't that scene in the bedroom have been if he was the one binging on ice cream?

Moving so much of the show off the soundstage was jarring at first, but I think it could help a great deal with keeping things fresh if they keep it up throughout the season.

Best bit: Jason Segel's "Good evuhning" at the end.

Rachel said...

I also thought it was a great start to the season! They did a good job of addressing Barney and Robin while still having them play off each other like they do best. I'm excited to see where they take them.

Marshall + the whip = AWESOME!

As a past architecture student at USC, where the exterior campus shots were filmed, I wasn't too surprised that they didn't use the actual architecture building. It is one of the worst buildings on campus after all! ;)

Drew Johnson said...

I'm dying to learn those rules for how to select a tie!

Arik said...

There's a potential age thing going on here. If I remember correctly that professor said it was ECON 205? Right? So typically sophomore year of undergrad. But the mother has to be 21 as of No Tomorrow two years ago. So a 23 year old minimum in a sophomore class? Possible I guess, but not standard.

And that would make Ted 8/9 years older than the mother. Not impossible, sure, but unorthodox.

Sloansy said...

Apropo of nothing, but Colbie Smulders looked fantastic with a little post-pregnancy weight. The anorexic look she developed around season 3 was not good.

The bait and switch regarding the mother only served to remind me that I really don't care who the mother is. At all. But other than that it was good episode. The flashback to the ridiculous tuxedo night was my favorite moment. It was a perfect HIMYM moment, a little window on the goofy, fun lives that these characters have.

Anonymous said...

As a professor whose semester has just begun and who every year, still asks herself: What kind of a professor do I want to be, I laughed my head off during Prof(f)essor Mosby's scenes. So true...so so so true...

Anonymous said...

Sweet ending for sure.

But yeah, less Hannigan the better. She's talented as can be but until they find a new way to make her funny, less is more. Enough with her playing the sweet innocent girl who has fits of being bossy and/or perverted.

ghoti said...

I rewound the DVR during the classroom scene - not to try and determine who the Mother might be - but to try and figure out what word they used to replace the F-word in "Oxford Comma".

(I'm still not sure, BTW. I've never heard the radio edit.)

And the use of Oxford - could it be a subtle homage to Ross and his English accent.

Now that's a stretch, but it did pop into my mind as I watched.

ghoti said...

And I think there a lot of people on TV who deserve to get beat on.

IMO, Jon Cryer is not one of them.

Jennifer said...

Barney and Robin were handled to perfection. It was awesome.

Man, it is SO NICE to be able to see the ladies' bods in full. I was wondering if they'd have a scene where Lily and Robin mutually threw out their giant purses saying that they were out of style, but sadly no.

Ted continues to be the douchiest douche in douchetown and he is sooooooooo lucky he did that "T-Dogg" act in someone else's classroom, because the whole time I kept thinking, "Man, why on earth would the mother end up with THIS guy?!" Holy cow, he's awful. Though it was nice to hear that by the time he got to his actual class he settled down and acted like a human being. His actual classroom seems to be a LOT smaller class than the previous one, which makes me think that narrowing the mother down may be simpler than we thought.

(Somehow I'm reminded of The Mirror Has Two Faces, where Barbra has a class like the first one that's so full students are hanging off the walls and Jeff Bridges has a tiny class and is all, "How do you get them to stay?")

Karl Ruben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Did anybody catch what the guy behind tuxedoed Marshall was signing in the last scene?

Karl Ruben said...

@Jennifer: I'm pretty sure The Mother was supposed to be someone who was in the econ class, not the subsequent architecture one.
"The first thing is that I didn't know your mother was in that classroom" was the voiceover at the head of the episode, accompanying a shot of the big auditorium.

Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
belinda said...

Now I have to see Predator again.

I never noticed the similarity of Ross Gellar and Ted Mosby - it's like they're long lost twins! I just hope Ted wouldn't get as insufferable as Ross towards the end of Friends.

Not a great great episode, but a good start to the season. I really love seeing NPH and Smulders as a comedy duo.

J.J. said...

Yeah, Ted is getting to be a little Rossish.

The douche-chills professor act was covered pretty thoroughly on "Friend" (including the Indiana Jones joke). Another thing: Ted had a moment where his voice got all high and weird at one point when he was talking to the class, which was something Ross did a lot as that show went on. Plus he's already the lovesick character, which was Ross' entire role early in that show (before they suddenly switched it up by making Matthew Perry the "romantic lead" of sorts).

Anonymous said...

I agree this episode featured douche Ted. But it was never funny. I never laughed once at any professor scene. Now that Lily and Ted characters are both in the education field maybe the writers can ship them off each week to some conference. OFF CAMERA. I love Barney, Robin, and Marshall. But Ted and Lily bore me to death.

Dave said...

@Arik - There's a potential age thing going on here. If I remember correctly that professor said it was ECON 205? Right? So typically sophomore year of undergrad. But the mother has to be 21 as of No Tomorrow two years ago. So a 23 year old minimum in a sophomore class? Possible I guess, but not standard.

And that would make Ted 8/9 years older than the mother. Not impossible, sure, but unorthodox.


I thought that they had been saying Econ 305, which would make a little more sense. While 23 (call it 22 if she's got a birthday after September but before St. Patty's) would be old for a junior-level class if someone was an econ major from the start and graduated in 4 years, nowadays most students take more than 4 years to begin with and tend to switch majors or add extra majors later.

It's also common for folks to go back to school after they try something else (like baking?), and it doesn't work out. What if the Mother just didn't want to be a Buttercup for the rest of her life?

As for the episode itself, I could have done with a quicker resolution to the drama over The Talk. Yes, Lily was the focal point of the annoyance, but Barnman and Robin took it too far, and it was a LOT less funny at the end of the episode than at the beginning.

dez said...

The only thing I didn't like about the ep was how fast Ted became a "professor." He should at least start as an assistant prof since he has no teaching experience :-) Otherwise, I was very pleased with it and like others, don't really care who the mother is. I want more Mogwai rules and more Barnman and Robin :-)

Anonymous said...

I could have watched Marshall yell "Not good enough!" *crack* all night. Best part of the episode.

Jon Weisman said...

I think Ted's character has become a huge nightmare on the show. The comparison to later-years Ross is apt, although Ted might be even worse. He has become so unredeeming in his stupidity and annoying qualities.

One of the main problems with Cheers in its later years is that it made Sam stupider as time passed. They're doing the same thing with Ted, and it's painful. It's certainly not clever or amusing.

Ted is not really the lead on the show at this point, so I can understand in a way him becoming comic relief. But hitting the same smug note without having Barney's charm is a huge mistake.

Travis said...

"Do I have to put a gun to your head?"... totally used that one on the girlfriend before bed.

It would have been more to character if it was Marshall with the ice cream in bed and Lilly asking if sex was in the cards or not.

They did seem to fast-track Ted into Proffessor, but with frequent use of the time-shift maybe they'll fill in some of the back story? I was also stupmed at the spelling... the cues from the student were great.

Lilly was right, I beleive. Barnman & Robin are only lying to themselves...

Heather said...

Lots of really good stuff but my favorite was Marshall whipping the whip and Lily jumping every time. He looks like he had too much fun.

Brian said...

I'm sure Ted is an assistant professor (or even an adjunct). I've found that "professor" is a pretty generic term and is used colloquially to refer to anyone who teaches at the college level.

Bill said...

My problem with Lily isn't Alyson Hannigan. It's that she's so often written as an obnoxious prat. There have been at least three episodes -- Lily taking things away from people to teach them a lesson, Lily's interfering with Ted's relationships, and this one -- that feature this self-righteous know-it-all who sees the world as her kindergarten class. It's especially annoying when it comes to Lily playing Relationship Den Mother, because this is a character who has all the wisdom and experience of one and a half relationships to draw on, and she bailed on one of those for art class.

I realize it's a sitcom and behavior and character traits are always exaggerated, but I can't imagine being friends with Lily, and can't imagine remaining friends with her after the revelations about her sabotaging Ted's relationship. I sure as hell can't imagine being Barney or Robin locked in the bedroom and not pointing out to Lily that maybe, given that sabotaging, she should cool it on running other peoples' love lives for a while.

MCB said...

Re: the Mother being an undergrad -- there's also the possibility that the Mother is a graduate student, maybe a TA for the course. That would put her closer to Ted's age. (Although you'd think a TA would just interrupt Ted's lecture ... unless she was really enjoying watching him twist in the wind!)

Laura said...

What is the likelihood of the students in Ted's class still being there if he was twenty minutes late?

erin said...

@Laura--that's what I thought! Ted seriously violated the 15 minute rule...as his student, I would've been out of there!

...well, maybe with it being the first day of class I might have exhibited a tiny bit more patience. But in general...15 minutes of lateness is all you get!

Anonymous said...

I thought it was really funny. I agree with a bunch of other people that Lily has started to get to the point of being annoying, even though I like Hannigan. I didn't miss her at all during her sabbatical last season, and in some ways I thought the show improved. It still bothers me that the show has Jason Segel, one of the funniest dudes in Hollywood right now, and doesn't use him nearly enough.

Anonymous said...

i loved this show but it really becomes less and less funny, the barney / robin story is really lame, the whole "oh we want it casual but actually we love each other" just sucks. on the other hand ted at campus can be a good way to write something else than what they have done for this awful season 4

Dr. Milton von F├╝nkdoctorspock said...

Pure speculation, but why wait until the series end to "meet" mom? Why not have The Tedster meet mom this season, get married and carry on w/ the show having one more core character (who in theory would greatly reign in Ted's douche-itis)?

Dan_Scriptomatic_Cinematic_Telematic said...

I'm a big fan of HIMYM but I was nonplussed at this season premiere episode. It just didn't have the big laughs that I come to expect from the show (a few smaller ones, though. I fear the Robin-Barney romance will continue to hiss air from the tires, but...they could always just nix it and next week pretend like it didn't happen. I don't think anyone would care, would they? It's just that Barney being the ultimate playah is one of the foundations of the funny. I've got my own reviews of The Office and Mad Men up on my site, if anyone's interested. Nice post, Alan; I just found your site and hope to visit again.

p.s. Okay, I'll be the first to ask: did Allyson Hannigan get a boob job or is that just post-pregnancy largesse?

Sara said...

so... i'm a little miffed that in 3 months flat, with no phd, no job market, and pretty little experience in the field, ted lands a professor job. sure, television doesn't often mimic real life, but professors don't come out of thin air! more likely... adjunct at a community college :).

Anonymous said...

I still don't get this show. Everyone seems to be overacting. The jokes are weak .. and everyone agrees the overall premise (and show title) is irrelevant.

I peeked in on the premier .. but I will still pass. Maybe Jason Segal will become a big enough movie star to kill this thing once and for all.

Anonymous said...

@Sara - Ted got the job through Tony, Stella's fiance. Remember the 2nd to last episode last season, Tony was trying to make it up to ted for "stealing" Stella from him by finding him a job. Turns out he's loaded and from a prominent family who has ties to the college. So, Ted got his job through his connections - he didn't have to go the normal route to professorship. And, trust me - that kind of thing DOES happen in real life - all the time.

Anonymous said...

I think this was a great start to the season. Ted's parts were enjoyable to watch, especially when he forgot how to spell "professor." However, Lily interfering in other people's relationships is getting pretty annoying. She just seems to get more and more extreme with her methods. I don't think they use Jason Segel enough on this show so hopefully there will be some Marshall-centric episodes coming up soon. I thought the Barney/Robin relationship was handled really well. The writers did a good job keeping them in character. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more Barman and Robin together this season because NPH and Cobie have such great onscreen chemistry.

M.A.Peel said...

Catching up on Hulu. I LOVED the professor scene. I can't spell, and having Ted go to the board and not be sure if there are two "f"s in professor is one of the funniest things I have seen on tv.

Em said...

Just rewatched this episode and had to comment - Marshall is hilarious in the end credits, sauntering through the bar in his tux: "Hello, hello, good evening... didn't we meet on a yacht?" Hahahahaha!

I didn't pay attention to the scene the first time around but laughed out loud this time and had to rewind it three times. Lol.