Monday, September 28, 2009

How I Met Your Mother, "Double Date": Dopplegangland

Quick spoilers for tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I do the check dance...

Ted solo in the A-story and everyone else in the subplot isn't the ideal construction for a "HIMYM" episode, and unsurprisingly, the parts of "Double Date" that worked mostly took place in the Stripper Lily plot. Lily's excitement over seeing her hot doppleganger got old after a little while, but Marshall's elaborate fantasy of Lily's death(*) got funnier the longer it lasted. And Barney's obliviousness about Robin's disgust at his strip club-hopping ways was amusing. Plus, I feel pleased that, of all the weeks they could do a Mustache Marshall gag, it would be the one where I have the current blog logo.

(*) My wife pointed out that this was also a "King of Queens" storyline, albeit there the Dead Wife Fantasy wasn't nearly as elaborate, or tender.

As for Ted's replayed first date(**), I actually think it was a good idea - and one that featured the bare minimum of Ted as d-bag - and I always enjoy Lindsay Sloane, who played Jen. But Ted's not an incredibly funny character on his own and needs a strong personality like Barney (or Blah Blah, or some of his other weird girlfriends) to bounce off of, and cute cat fixation aside, Jen was fairly mellow. So it was 20 minutes or so of two nice people figuring out they weren't exactly right for each other. A decent story, but not a comedy goldmine.

(**) And before a million people ask, the song played as Ted imagined an alternate timeline where they got married was "Rewind" by Goldspot.

One thing: now that we've met Stripper Lily, Mustache Marshall and Lesbian Robin (who looked not dissimilar from the raised-as-a-boy Robin we met in "Happily Ever After"), we had better meet the other two dopplegangers that Future Ted promised - and soon.

What did everybody else think?

56 comments:

Shannon said...

I thought the episode was a letdown from last week's stellar premiere. Ted's dating stories tend to bore me, and this was no exception.

Also, something felt off about the Barney/Robin storyline. Last week ended with them happy and deciding to "pretend" to be in a relationship, but suddenly they're fully in in a relationship and already showing signs of being dysfunctional. I didn't really buy Robin's reaction to Barney at the strip club either. It seemed a bit out of character and like a cheap way for the writers to give them conflict. The fact that conflict is being introduced so early probably doesn't bode well for their relationship.

On the plus side, I did enjoy the doppelganger storyline, and couldn't help but think of Buffy. The episode with Willow's doppelganger is one of my all-time favorites.

Alan Sepinwall said...

On the plus side, I did enjoy the doppelganger storyline, and couldn't help but think of Buffy. The episode with Willow's doppelganger is one of my all-time favorites.

Thanks for the reminder, Shannon, which inspired me to sub in a much more fitting subject line than the original choice.

DonBoy said...

I was convinced that the punchline of Ted's plot was going to be that he and Jen had not gone out before...they'd each dated the others' double. But that became less likely as the episode progressed.

By the way, I'm halfway through this week's Heroes, which seems to suck far less this year, and Sylar keeps reminding me of DoucheFacialHairTed.

Anonymous said...

It's getting close to the point when Ted being such a douchebag is:
1) tired; and 2) insulting to other douchebags.

When was the last time that a show ostensibly centered around a particular character became unwatchable when that character was onscreen?

(Word verify: dicslish. Um, yeah.)

Blair Waldorf said...

Ted is not the funniest but sometimes he is sympathetic enough. As a fellow traveler in the dating hell that is New York, I was very sympathetic to Ted for once. I am pretty sure the repeat blind date will happen to me any day now.

Also, Ted stories work better when they embrace his douchiness and make it funny. I thought this one did a good job of that.

I really liked this one.

Brandy said...

I confess to thinking the shellfish joke was amusing. I'm going to end up married to d'bag Ted. Heh.

I loved the idea of Lily's doppelganger but for some reason it just didn't come together for me.

I like the idea of Lily thinking her stripper self was cool but I think it should have wigged Marshal out more. I don't know. Something other than what it was, anyway.

And I have no problem with Barney and Robin having problems but I'd like for their problems to be funny.

Ted and the date were the highlight of the episode for me... Ted usually isn't but I did like the two dates.

James said...

kept thinking of this during the stripper storyline, actually enjoyed the ted storyline - the romantic and douchebag aspects to him and while the writers lean too much on the douchebag as a means of making ted interesting/funny i do like they've shown that he has progressively become less pretentious.

srpad said...

This episode clicked completely with me. I loved all of the things that you mentioned but I also liked the the bit with the parallel dates. I guess I like Ted more than most and that makes the difference.

Drew said...

I really liked it, though it was different from last week. I thought both plots worked well together, with the sweet balancing the silly.

Ted's date, in particular, was a cool idea, and I liked that it wasn't just about how they didn't recognize each other. I found retracing the steps to be pretty romantic, and since the mother pool has dwindled, it's fun to know more about her, even if it's really, really, really, really small information. It also helps show how the mother and Robin were alike enough that he'd be attracted to both (granted, Smurf Penis is groanworthy in a different way than the shellfish joke).

The doppleganger storyline was hilarious, and I loved the reveal that it was Mustache Marshall at the bar. Can't wait for more. And while I'm usually not a fan of long jokes, the priest talking about plowing the delivery lady was pretty hilarious, as was Marshall ripping his shirt off.

I wish we'd seen the Barney/Robin relationship unfold a little differently tonight, but I can imagine we're headed for some bumpy roads until they're really ready to talk it all out, so it makes sense. Plus, Barney was hilarious. I love when he gets excited about things, be it Marshall's night shirt or Stripper Lily.

Good episode.

pgillan said...

What is the full text of the neon sign in the image at the top of the post? My guess is that it's "Lusty Leopard", but I'm holding out hope for "Lusty Leopold".

akaBruno said...

Great title of the movie they walked out of when they first saw the Marshall doppelganger - "The Attorney Lawyer."

Spence said...

I don't know... I really liked the date storyline. It wasn't hilarious like doppleganger!Lily was, but I thought that it balanced it out pretty perfectly. On the one hand, you have wacky sitcom antics, and then in between you have the character-focused non-silliness that make this show rise to a level above the average sitcom.

Then again, maybe I'm just weird in not expecting everything to be funny. Who knows.

Tyroc said...

For once I liked the Ted story a lot more than the story of the other characters. While not hilarious, it felt very real. (Although, wow, do those two have AMAZING memories. But given the detail Ted remembers how he met his mother and all the adventures involved, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.) And Lindsay Sloan is always fantastic.

As for the other story, well, Lilly just isn't hot to me. Adorable at times? Definitely. But not hot. And so I had no desire to imagine her in a stripper outfit. Why oh why couldn't it be Robin?

Kenrick said...

I actually thought this episode was pretty good. Liked it more than last week's. Would I care to elaborate? Nah.

Linda said...

I notoriously like Ted much better than other people do, so I'm not surprised I liked this one a lot more than some did. I don't have that "douchebag" reaction to him at all; I always find him basically sympathetic, and I usually assume that when he's doing something really blatantly embarrassing, it's a function of the fact that he's telling the story. A good guy and a good storyteller never makes himself the hero -- he always makes himself the butt of the joke. So the fact that Ted winds up doing really embarrassing things always strikes me as believable and endearing. I inevitably take my own memories of behaving stupidly and handle them a lot, making them much worse than they were, while my dearest friends are always remembered in ways that are funny and warm.

I thought it was really very sweet, and if anything, seeing 2002 Ted made me conclude that Ted DOES learn from his screwups, which is always what I like about him anyway. Yes, my name is Linda, and I am emphatically pro-Ted.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if the doppleganger storyline was a nod to Buffy too! Interesting that both Willow and Lily's opposite selves are awfully slutty...

Alf said...

Thank you for linking to Lindsay Sloane'd imdb page; I recognized her and it was bugging me. The Wonder Years was where I'd seen her before!

Pamela Jaye said...

I can't remember who Blah Blah was. At least I think I can't.
But I was watching the red carpet before the Emmys and was surprised to see Josh show up with the girl from Spoiler Alert (I LOVE that ep. I carry it around on my laptop) so...

there have been so many women... I don't remember all their names (and yes, I'm on my way to try to look it up)

captcha: byelizi (so close to Lily)

Andrew said...

Blah Blah was from "How I Met Everyone Else," the girl he met playing World of Warcraft.

I really liked this episode. The Ted plotline felt poignant, in that this whole series has largely been about Ted becoming the man he needs to be in order to meet and fall in love with his future wife. The storyline was unique and pretty cute, even if it wasn;t as laugh out loud funny as the other plot.

Loved Marshall's elaborate fantasy more than the fat smelly kid on F&G loved science fiction. It just kept going, getting more and more specific...

Loved the promise of them finding dopplegangers for the whole group. And I believe we have some more slaps still to come (3 left? Or 2?)

My only complaint was Robin's reaction to Barney at the strip club. Didn;t they go to a strip club with Ted for thanksgiving a while back? Or maybe during their Bro's night in season 1? They semi-addressed Barney having a girlfriend being odd for him, but they haven't acknowledged that Robin, knowing all she knows about Barney, would be stupid to be with a guy like that. This ep she seemed to be expecting him to be someone completely different than the guy she has known the last 5 years? Really?

Eric said...

It felt like they left half to the Robin-and-Barney reaction out of the episode. I for Robin there's a difference between going to a strip club with Barney her friend, and going to one with Barney her boyfriend, and we needed to hear that explanation. (And maybe a callback to their previous strip club jaunt.) But I don't thing we've heard the last of this either. It really goes to the heart of their relationship - just how much Barney can be Barney without wrecking things.

Rinaldo said...

I'm with Tyroc and Linda here, and emphatically on the other side of the line from Alan: I thought the Ted story worked much better. Certainly it's the side of the series that goes for gentle, character-related humor, but it worked consistently, and in recognizing their own faults and being adult about them, both characters came off very likable.

Whereas the subplot... the idea of a stripper Lily seemed funnier in advance than the execution achieved. And yes, the writing of Robin felt completely wrong. I'm not one of those who screams "out of character!" at any deviation from one-dimensional conformity , and maybe clever writing could have told us why Robin has reversed her attitude about strip joints. But they didn't even try.

LDP said...

I've never watched a single episode of this show. Is it worth renting the dvds and trying to catch up?

J.J. said...

Andrew asked, "This ep she seemed to be expecting him to be someone completely different than the guy she has known the last 5 years? Really?"

I found myself asking the same thing. In fact, going by what Robin knows of Barney's behavior when he's in a relationship (from the videotape episode), I'm surprised they didn't take the opportunity to show Robin would rather Barney keep trying to be awesome, as opposed to going back to the way he was with that other girlfriend.

But the way Robin was acting, does this mean she'd prefer Barney as a relationship wuss?

Edo said...

I thought the joke about a weird fatal hiccup was a parody of "Grey's Anatomy", where Meredith's step-mother died of hiccups a few seasons ago. Of course, it could be that other medical shows have also had "death by hiccup" cases I don't know about.

Karen said...

Count me also in the camp of thinking the double-date story-ine worked well. As the audience becomes more and more aware of Ted's douche-iness, it's smart of them to recognize that Ted is beginning to see it in himself as well. (I mean, seriously? Not giving the cold girl your coat isn't about YOU not being cold--if anything, it emphasizes that you're not cold. What a douche!) He learned a couple of useful things last night--one of which is when his behavior is his own particular quirk (bad puns) and when he's a douche (not giving the cold girl his jacket). That's a good lesson for Ted. As someone said above, he's learning to be the man he needs to be in order to meet the mother--because, frankly, Ted hasn't really been marriage material heretofore. So while it wasn't laugh-out-loud funny, I thought it was still a good storyline.

I agree with everyone above about Robin/Barney--first, that the dysfunction showed up way too soon and, second, that it was surprising for Robin to be that uncomfortable with Barney at a strip club, given how completely she knows who he is....and how that's part of the attraction for her.

Stripper Lily was all right when Lily was first excited, but I'm not convinced about the threesome lap dance--I'm not sure Marshall's Lily would have been quite that in to that. And I was confused by the little credits sting--mostly because of that Russian accent (it would have helped if they'd indicated earlier somehow that Stripper Lily was Russian).

Amy said...

I believe Blah Blah is Sally Draper's young teacher now on Mad Men.

I usually roll my eyes at a Ted A-story, but they had fun with it, used good story telling techniques, and the goatee was pretty funny. Flashbacks of Ted always reflect his level of douchyness in hair/facial hair. I liked it.

The death fantasy was also great. Senor Justice was greater.

The Robin/Barney story was weird because were they just throwing around girlfriend / boyfriend to make Lilly happy, or since the last episode did they realize they weren't lying to her when they defined the relationship? I have no problem thinking Robin might change her previously liberal view of strippers, or that Barney would ignore her complaints....but it was distracting not knowing if they were faking their relationship or had truly owned up to it...

dez said...

I guess I like Ted more than most and that makes the difference.


I like Ted, too. I enjoyed the date plot and really liked how it was executed. I also don't have a problem with Robin's reaction to Barney at the strip club. It's one thing to hang with your bros at the club, and another with your boyfriend. And Barney being tone deaf to her reaction seemed in character, to me.

Steve said...

In the beginning of the episode, I loved the idea of the blind date storyline, but the execution was lacking.

Not the best episode, but Moustache Marshall was awesome and so was the elaborate dream sequence. I don't like what's happening to Marshall's character, though. He's becoming too baby-ish... more so than usual.

When Marshall said that now something gives him a "partial," I thought the writers missed an opportunity to call it a "Partial Marshall."

Kirby said...

Anyone know the name of the band or song at the end of the episode?

Alan Sepinwall said...

If you very carefully read the review you posted your question on, you might find the answer to which you seek.

Kathie said...

I like Ted, I think he's sweet. I thought his storyline was realistic........sometimes two nice people date each other, something's off, can't really put your finger on it; just lack of chemistry.
I didn't like the dream sequence, went on too long.
The doppleganger (love that word) storyline is great.......looking forward to seeing the rest.

Hannah Lee said...

…the idea of a stripper Lily seemed funnier in advance than the execution achieved. And yes, the writing of Robin felt completely wrong.

I totally agree with this. The best part of that storyline was Marshall’s elaborate fantasy of becoming a widower so he could sleep around. Robin was very un-Robin and very one-noted. It seemed like she had been replaced by a random clingy girlfriend. Maybe it was a 2nd Robin doppelganger? I want real Robin back. While I wasn’t wary of the Robin-Barney pairing before, because I was sure TPTB on this show could handle it, if they start writing more episodes like this, I’m going to be disappointed.

Ted’s my least favorite character on the show (especially douche-Ted; he reminds me too much of Ross Geller) but I enjoyed the blind date rewind part of the episode, even more than the stripper Lily part.

Kirby said...

I reviewed every comment... no mention of the song at the end of the episode.

Anyone know what song was playing at the end?

Vanessa said...

Kirby, it isn't in the comments. It is in the review.

Kirby said...

I

Am

Retarded.


Thank you!

My apologies for my ignorance.

dez said...

If you very carefully read the review you posted your question on, you might find the answer to which you seek.

You have this on macro now, don't you?

dez said...

Also, not to be too Ted on you, but: doppelgänger (although you can drop the umlaut and still be correct) :-)

I knew those German classes would come in handy some day!

shepinpa said...

I can't believe no one mentioned the funniest line in the episode - Marshall: "It's cheaper than buying a condom!" (high fives)

Is Bob Saget Ted's doppelganger?

mrsb said...

It's not often that Lilly makes me think "Willow" anymore, but this one did it for me.

I was really hoping that stripper Lilly would be evial and/or gay, so Lilly could utter the infamous " I'm so evil and...skanky. And I think I might be gay!"

That would have been awesome.

Can't wait to see Barney's doppleganger!

Heather said...

I actually didn't mind the second date storyline. It wasn't funny but it was tender. Ted is not as interesting but he's not really a douche anymore.

The doppleganger makes me want more. I can't wait for the other two.

Art Fleming said...

Also, not to be too Ted on you, but: doppelgänger (although you can drop the umlaut and still be correct) :-)
Also not to be too Ted but actually it would have to be Doppergänger.

Art Fleming said...

Im stupid, i meant Doppelgänger.

Anonymous said...

The idea that Barney was going to try to take Ted to see a lethal injection...not funny, not true to the character, and even NPH couldn't sell it.

Travis said...

Could not subscribe to the Robin as party-pooping girlfriend who gets pissed at her boyfriend for going to the strippers. An abrupt change in character for someone who previously relished such acts.

Also felt that the doppleganger bits felt tacked on, almost to the point of family guy-esque cut-aways. Worked well with Lilly and the stripper, but the Marshal & Robin bits were wasted, I think.

As always though, I hold out hope that there will be some later explination for these things which will be hilarious.

I was glad to see Ted understand that this girl was not right for him and end it there rather than drag it on and give point after point about how "she's the one" even though everyone else tells him otherwise.

LAprGuy said...

Didn't enjoy this episode much ... the only time I laughed aloud was when the DJ stopped his rap to say hello to Barney.

Febrifuge said...

One thing I thought was cool, in a nerdy English-major kind of way, was how the two dates seven years apart were BLIND dates... and the people involved used the opportunity to see themselves more clearly. Right?

As Douche-Ted would say, "think about that."

(captcha word: intralis. Side effects may include over-analysis of sitcoms, growth of dorky facial hair, or extended delusions of spousal death followed by hot nasty delivery-girl action. Ask your healthcare provider if Intralis is right for you!)

Jennifer said...

I hated how Robin suddenly had to be turned into a Typical Girlfriend. Bleeeech. I don't buy that she'd do that. Maybe that she started out cool, then felt more and more grossed out while she's watching him there, but not just "Boyfriends don't do that!" Uck.

Other than that, enjoyed the episode. It was a good balance of Douche Ted learning not to be a douche, liked Jen, really enjoyed the dopplegangers and Lily's joy of having a stripper double. Rock on.

David said...

Did one else notice the big continuity gaffe in this episode? Barney and Ted were not friends seven years ago, right? They met during the pilot episode, in the restroom of McClellan's, when Ted was 27. Yet Barney was in the flashback with Goatee Ted seven years ago.

Sorry, just had to express that nitpicky Mosby-like quibble.

Pamela Jaye said...

David, you're such a Ted! Febrifuge - loved your drug disclaimer.

I guess Blah Blah was aptly named - I'll have to watch the ep again to see her and see if she is as forgettable as she seems to me. (unlike the crazy girl in Swarley)

I guess that, like becoming a professor, having this date is one of the things that had to happen in order for Ted to be ready to meet the mother. And yes - I did like the date.
I also liked that Marshall had to kill Lily off before he could fantasize. And yes, I did think of Susan Grey, but I never thought it was a reference. I'm not sure why, because they did do that Mad Men thing. Scrubs loves to parody - Grey's, House...

zodin2008 said...

Great episode and I second the commenters that A) I don't hate Ted, even if he's not hilarious and b) my wife and I really thought the blind date story was cute and poignant and yes, Lindsay Sloane was great casting for this episode. She and Ted were cute together.

I second being annoyed by Robin suddenly acting as a clingy girlfriend...not her character. But the couple would be a lot less funny without conflict. It's not Jim and Pam. Jim and Pam work as a couple because they look across the room at eachother as the only two sane people in an office full of crazy people that they love. Jim and Pam are a team. Robin and Barney are both completely selfish characters that need to mix in their new ways with their old ones.

Anonymous said...

I didn't watch the episode until last night on tivo. Bad episode. I didn't find either half funny. Isn't that the point of a sitcom?

dez said...

@Art Fleming, in common English usage, it's okay to use a lower-case "d." And I think we can both agree that the more important thing is that it's "doppel," not "dopple."

Now be gone, my inner Ted :-)

M.A.Peel said...

Like Jennifer, I thought Robin's reaction to Barney/stripper was out of character. Even beyond just not wanting A boyfriend to frequent strip clubs, how could she possibly be upset at this quintessential side of Barney?

Put me in the "liked the Ted date". It had nice pacing, and more to it than the obvious.

Shannon said...

David: actually, it wasn't a continuity error. Barney and Goatee Ted met at McLaren's in 2003, a couple years before the pilot episode. Check the episode "How I Met Everyone Else", which I think is early Season Three, for verification.

Alan Sepinwall said...

But the flashbacks to his first date with Jen take place in 2002, Shannon.

Shannon said...

Oh, good point. But I just checked and I was incorrect: Barney and Ted met in 2001. So no error from the show, just from the viewers!