Monday, October 19, 2009

How I Met Your Mother, "Duel Citizenship": Take off, eh!

Quick spoilers for tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I bar the door handles with my hockey stick...
"I'm a Canadian. I was born there. My family's there. It's who I am." -Robin
"Yeah, I know. And it's provided us with a lot of laughs." -Barney
While Robin's Canadian heritage has, indeed, provided us with a lot of laughs, to my amazement I found the biggest laughs of "Duel Citizenship" came in the Ted/Marshall subplot. Between the running gag about Tantrum! cola, the belated reaction to the bad pizza ("It's like a hot ball of lead!") and Ted's complete despair at becoming a third wheel on what was supposed to be a dude's adventure (complete with an audiobook featuring the honey-dipped vocal stylings of Mr. Kenny Rogers), it was stoopid and silly, but very, very funny. And, like most of the better "HIMYM" storylines, it got at the core tension between people in different phases of romantic life. Ted thinks Marshall's being a selfish jerk who's ruined the trip, and vice versa, and they both have a point. (Though, as a married guy, I think Ted has the better point. Springing Lily on Ted at the last minute was a massive Road Trip Foul.)

And I don't mean to slight the Robin/Barney storyline, which had the usual physical mayhem we've come to associate with any full-on Canadian incident for Ms. Scherbatzky, plus a visit to Tim Horton's. And for once, a Canadian subplot turned into an excuse for the writers to crack jokes about America, particularly during the Foxworthy/Varney argument, when a delighted Barney proclaimed, "Not only are you wrong, but you are belligerently sticking to your guns and insulting me in the process. Robin Scherbatzky, you are an American!"

Maybe not the deepest episode they've done, but it was plenty funny, and after the debacle that was Joe Girardi's over-managing in Yanks-Angels game 3, I needed some good laughs, and I got 'em.

What did everybody else think?

52 comments:

TC said...

I'm fully nitpicking here, but as someone who has actually driven from Connecticut to Chicago a couple times, I can't see how it could possibly take 22 hours to drive there straight through.

Nicole said...

The Tim Hortons was pretty accurate, but a lot of the Canadian jokes were weak. The monopoly money joke has been done before and done better. I guess the problem is that the show is written for Americans, who for the most part know very little about Canada, and so there are only so many jokes you can make about "eh", hockey, cold weather and being polite.

It might have been funnier if Barney went to Toronto and didn't notice a difference between Canadians and Americans, which would have freaked him out.

erin said...

It could be that I wasn't fully invested (i was cooking dinner while i was watching), but it seemed like the weakest episode of the season to me. And I'm not sure why--all the parts were there, and I enjoyed the plots of both stories, but it wasn't laugh-out-loud funny. Which...maybe it doesn't have to be, as long as the story works. And while I thought the story worked, i just didn't laugh as much as i had hoped i would. Ah, well!

Diane said...

As a Canadian (who actually lives in Vancouver, so I enjoy the Canucks jerseys) I was happy to see some good US jokes for a change. The monopoly money joke HAS been made too many times but I laughed when Barney made fun of the $5 for having hockey players on it. And now every time I look at a Canadian coin I'm going to see Elton John (who is actually married to a Canadian).

Anonymous said...

This is stupid nitpicking and I'm probably wrong but I thought it was virtually impossible to be both a Canadian and American citizen.

Hannah Lee said...

I enjoyed this episode more than last week's; there were enough laughs in both plots to make it a winner. The Canadian humor was kind of simplistic, but since the commentary was coming mostly from Barney, that didn't bother me. Plus, I liked the idea of Robin having a bit of an identity crisis, like she's taking stock of who she is: her career has gone in a different direction than she expected, her personal life is going in a different direction than she expected, it makes sense.

Springing Lily on Ted at the last minute was a massive Road Trip Foul

During all those scenes, I couldn't help thinking about Long Way Down, Evan McGregor and Charley Boorman's reality road trip followup to Long Way Round; basically 2 best friends (and their trusty cameraman Claudio) on motorcycles driving across continents. The first series is the Best. Road.Trip. Ever. In the second series, Ewan decides that he wants his wife (who's never ridden a motorcycle) to come along with them for part of the trip. Very sweet (like Marshall and Lily), but also so not in the spirit of guys' road trip. Things wound up alright IIRC, but there was some tension, similar to the tension between Ted and Marshall.

Billiam said...

I was a bit let down. The road-trip storyline felt a bit sitcommy and predictable, and the episode just didn't make me laugh very much.

Though I did laugh at the hockey stick in the door handles.

Hatfield said...

Joe Girardi's over-managing in Yanks-Angels game 3

Aceves? I mean, as an Angel fan, thank you Girardi, but what was that all about?

Sorry, I don't usually even watch HIMYM, but I came on here to see if you had anything to say about the game. I'll just go elsewhere now...

Mike said...

When Ted threw the keys on the floor while Marshall was wearing a robe, I laughed out loud for about a minute. Hilarious.

Phil Freeman said...

This episode made me laugh harder than this show's done in several weeks. Tantrum! in particular made me laugh a whole lot, because I could sort of relate, having once drunk a two-liter bottle of Jolt Cola in order to drive into the city and watch G.G. Allin take the stage at 2 A.M. at a tiny, now-defunct bar/club in Manhattan.

Kyle said...

Nitpicking aside, I do think that's fairly accurate anon 10:35. I live in Michigan and know a lot of Canadian transplants who don't vote here because they'd have to give up Canadian citizenship to do so.

One of my Canadian friends even got his girlfriend to work the 2008 election because he wanted to support Obama, but couldn't legally work the election without forfeiting Canadian citizenship.

Anonymous said...

This show on the whole can't be considered better than "pretty good" but I'm pretty happy I've watched it in full because of the continuity gags, which aren't always made obvious, but are sometimes really funny: I cracked up when I realized that flashback Ted and Marshall were singing that Proclaimers song because back then, they were still driving the Fiero which had the tape stuck in it.

Pale Writer said...

As the self-conscious Chicagoan than I am, I enjoy any plot in which characters would go out of their way to come here.

Also, the address for the pizza place is in the middle of a bridge.

Brandy said...

My problem is Lily. I'm single but I can't imagine trying to horn in on my partner's guy weekend. Nor would I expect him to horn in on girls night out. That made it kind of an eh episode for me... Big Bang was, too... so kind of an eh night.

That said I did enjoy dumb college road trip as a thing. We did that.

Karen said...

I really loved NPH's delighted reactions to Ted/Marshall's Tantrum-mania. He was so entertained!

I found myself really angry at Lily in this episode. I mean, I get the whole married-people thing, but really? You know you're coming along on a recreation of an epic insane road trip and you do NOTHING to go along with the traditions? That was just horrible. I know that Robin would have been shooting back Tantrum like mother's milk if she'd been the third-wheel.

I mean, Ted usually annoys me, but I was 100% on his side tonight.

Rachel said...

So if HIMYM isn't showing up on my DVR for later and MNF is scheduled to air during its time, does that mean that they pushed it off for the week for us west coasters? If so, lame. We all know NPH is way better than any Chargers/Broncos game that could ever happen!

Yesenia said...

I have a problem with Lily being portrayed as an impediment to Marshall and Ted's relationship, when Lily and Ted have always seemed to be as much friends as Marshall and Ted are. It just felt like Ted was acting like his bro brought along some chick he didnt know, when Lily is supposed to be his friend too.

I understand he wanted guy time with Marshall, but I feel like he should have been able to tell Lily that. And also that Lily, as his friend, would have understood that.

Antid Oto said...

I didn't understand why anyone would drive from Connecticut to Chicago for pizza under any circumstances. New Haven has great pizza. And wasn't Ted a snob in college?

Rachel said...

To Anon: My cousins have dual American-Canadian citizenship, because their mother is American and their father is Canadian. No idea how Robin's planning on getting it, but it is possible.

And as an East Coaster who's moved to Chicago -- yeah, it's 24 hours from New York to Chicago on train. The way College!Ted/Marshall drove, it shouldn't have taken them more than fifteen.

I could nitpick further, but really, the 500 miles callback was enough to make me laugh. Also, I really enjoyed Barney's and Robin's relationship here -- just like their friendship, except Barney keeps suggesting sex. So not much different at all.

Sophietje said...

That pizza wasn't nearly deep enough.... Now, Giordano's was reason enough for me and my friends to drive 4-6 hours to Chicago one a month. Would have totally been willing to 22 hours as well!

And now that I live in Buffalo, NY, I stop at Timmy Ho's every morning. Barney wasn't exaggerating: Tim Horton's double-double is the best coffee anyplace.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

I realize Marshall was at fault as much or more than Lily was with his Road Trip Foul, but, damn, Lily is starting to approach Stella levels of unpleasantness lately.

Alden said...

As a Canadian (and, currently, a Torontonian), I absolutely loved the Canada subplot and the Canada/US jokes. :D Also, Robin was Robin! First time she's really peeked her head out this season, and that makes me really happy. Generally very happy with the episode, even if compared to S1/2 it feels waaaay more sitcom-ised (the colours and the laugh track particularly) this season.

@Phil Freeman: Indeed, as a sometime-energy drink enthusiast who remembers Jolt!, the Tantrum story made me smile in fond memory.

R.A. Porter said...

@Antid Oto: I couldn't agree with you more about New Haven pizza. The only justification for the preference for Chicago-style would be if either Ted or Marshall had taken a lot of trips to Chicago as kids. Otherwise, the fight would be between Sal's and Pepe's.

As for the dual citizenship...Robin couldn't do that. America requires people to forsake allegiance to other countries in order to naturalize. Not all countries do that, which is why many people *are* dual American-Canadian citizens. They start out as Americans and then become Canadian.

Overall I thought the episode was fine, but it was a funny A-story and a funny B-story that had none of the complexity or playfulness with time of the better episodes. If the writers had found a way to intertwine the episodes, that might have elevated it.

Anonymous said...

To Rachel and other west-coasters HIMYM should record around 2am tonight.

Nicole said...

Canada has long recognized dual citizenship, especially that of the United States. I think the US has only acknowledged the existence of a second citizenship fairly recently, but Canadians who applied for US citizenship have never had to give up the Canadian one, since we have been allies for a very long time. (Except for the War of 1812 part, but then again Canada wasn't officially a country at that time).

Many Hollywood types born in Canada but who have acquired American citizenship, have kept their Canadian citizenship, e.g. Jim Carrey, Martin Short

Pamela Jaye said...

What did everybody else think?

I thought you weren't blogging this week. (but happy (if) that's not true.
I've never been clear on whether the blog is work or not work or some grey area in between. (and if it is work, did work tell you to start it, if not, did they freak out. everyone has a blog these days, but I don't think they did when you started this. so, curious)

Nice ep. I watched it while waiting for the stupid baseball to get out of the way of my watching House. A couple of nice people on Twitter @'ed me when the game was over, and I adjusted the end time on the DVR (it was too late to start a new recording. Twhirl has a bit of a lag to it)

I really missed their old road trips. I'm one of those who would want to sleep in a motel but only stops to use the bathroom - we can eat while we're moving. In fact, it's part of the fun. Like singing in the car. Who wants to listen to a book?

I did like Lily's zoning off into massage land though.
And I do understand the "we" thing (although it would have been nice if my (ex)husband had understood it too.)

Recently we drove from FL to Boston in two days... with *1* person driving.

Were those flashbacks or did they get a new copy of that 500 miles song? oh never mind. flashbacks. yeah, that was fun.
I'm not taking Lily on any road trips. And I'm female. (alas, only my male friends take road trips, and they always have to sleep outdoors)

Pamela Jaye said...

Pale Writer - Love that the address is in the middle of a bridge.
thanks for the laugh.

Dave Sandell said...

I guess I assumed they meant 22 hours round-trip, which seemed quite short for a round-trip, but more plausible than 22 each way.

And if you like Chicago-style pizza, it's worth the drive. I don't know anything about New Haven pizza, but it's just not the same type of pizza. It's like when people compare New York style pizza to Chicago. New York might have better pizza, but it's like comparing italian food to Argentian food. It has some stuff in common, but it's not the same type of food.

And for the record, Pequods is the best in the city, followed by Art of Pizza, though I prefer their thin crust. Giordanos is fine, but next time you're here, at least get your Lou Malnati's on. That's the best chain-pizza in the city, hands down.

Dave Sandell said...

Argentian should have been Argentinian. It's late.

Question Mark said...

Wow, I was just at the Tim Horton's around the corner from the Hockey Hall of Fame last week.

LoopyChew said...

Trying to debate whether the callback was awesome because of the 500 Miles cameo, or if that just threw into further relief the Jerky and TANTRUM! vs. "No Food and Drink in the car" rule that Marshall used to have. I guess I could wank it as them being too buzzed on TANTRUM! to care about it anymore.

Anything involving Robin and Canada is awesome, and that includes using them as a way to mock the American lifestyle.

Show's still not Season Two-level awesome yet, but it's picking back up.

citizens said...

Let's see if I can cut through some of the clutter on the dual citizenship thing, since I am one.

You can absolutely hold dual citizenship. In fact, I know some people who have more than 2 citizenships.

I was born and raised in Canada, but later naturalized in the U.S. You technically sign something that says you are giving up all other citizenships, but the other country that you hold citizenship with has to consider that a renunciation for it to count. I know Canada and many other countries don't, hence the dual citizenships.

The U.S. used to make you go further, but now looks the other way for some friendly countries (like Canada).

The most unrealistic part was actually the process. You don't just decide on a whim and go take a test. You have to be a permanent resident for a certain number of years, then apply. The application process takes well over a year, and involves way more than just a simple test.

J.J. said...

I wonder if they always intended to have Marshall's tape player stuck on that particular song, or if they ended up settling on it once they checked out what it would cost to play various other songs from the early '90s.

mrsb said...

My only gripe with this show is that wouldn't have Lilly been around for at least one or two of the previous road trips? If she didn't go on them back in the day, why would she suddenly want to go on them now as a married person?

Surely she's heard the stories about the trips, as Marshal tells her everything.

Plus, they need to pick a personality for Lilly. Either she's the awesome party chick that stuffs large bills in stripper's g-strings, or the stick in the mud that brings puppy books to a road trip.

I know people can be complex, a mix, blah, blah, blah, but Lilly seems to have multiple personalities this season.

Bryan said...

Someone mentioned it before and I agree - Not in the same league yet but this one reminded me a little of season 2 - in tone and style.

I'm not from Ny or Chicago and the road trip thing threw me too- even I knew it was way too long for one way and awfully short for round trip. Even on Tantrum I doubt that old car could do 85-90 the whole way. This is why it's always a bad idea to give actual times (or distances, or salaries, or prices etc etc ) it just takes the viewer out of the moment.

Peter said...

I may have just been in a poor mood since Girardi cannot manage his way out of a paper bag. Why do you give up the DH when Guzman is still on the roster and a better OF than Hairston?

Guzman catches the double that ended it.

Micromanaging the bullpen was going to cost them eventually. Better now than later I suppose.

Grrrrrrr

Anyway, it was all very sitcom-y. I don't for one second believe that Lilly would have booked a romantic bed and breakfast as their hotel if she knew Ted was going to be there.

I did not like how the Robin story line went from "I am going to be deported NOOO!!!" to "Oh, wait, I'll just get dual citizenship and everything will be fine" so fast.

Also, isn't Marshall supposed to be some hot shot lawyer? He couldn't get Robin out of some bar fight charges?

Ted and Marshall are both midwesterners so I can understand how they would confuse casserole and pizza. It is a common thing in that part of the country.

Jackie said...

Not a terrible episode, but definitely not my favourite. Lily on top of the car as the end bit ruined that storyline for me. On a bright note, just wanted to say I love the new Freaks and Geeks "Where Are They Now" blog logo, Alan.

Andrew said...

Based on Google Maps, it's about 13.75 hours to Chicago, at an average speed of just under 65 MPH. Crank that up to a TANTRUM! fueled 80 MPH and you're there in just over 11 hours. Or it's possible that Ted and Marshall turned what's normally a 13 hour drive into a 22 hour drive by getting lost without realizing it and travelling much longer than necessary hyped up on Tantrum.

I liked this episode but wasn't all that impressed by it, because the different plot threads didn't come together in the end to relate somehow. In this episode the Ted/Marshall/Lily plot and the Barney/Robin plot didn't have much of anything to do with each other.

Daniel Thorpe said...

Thanks Alan,

For the picture of Cobie Smulders bar-fighting with a chair in a Canucks jersey. She is now my ultimate Canadian Woman.

And the Canadian material may not have been sharply observed, but at least it wasn't outright wrong - except for the shot of Robin and her buddies singing Oh Canada in the Hoser Hut. Outside of the Atlantic provinces we're not a musical race, and the national anthem is the last thing a bunch of Canadian expats would sing (or know the words to). Some maritime folk song would be much more likely: either sentimental (Farewell to Nova Scotia) or loser/patriotic (Barrett's Privateers)

andythesaint said...

RE: Lily

She did come off as an annoying stick in the mud, but that's why you have to remember that everything we see on the show is through the filter of Future Ted, the unreliable narrator. In his mind, at that moment, she was a complete impedment to his fun, and thus she is made out to be the worst road trip mate ever.

Just as Marshall didn't actually tear a phone book in half while wacked out on Tantrum!, I'm sure Lily didn't actually pee every five minutes or listen to a book on tape about puppies narrated by Kenny Rogers. These are exagerrations that support Ted's memory.

Jennifer said...

I was really enjoying Barney and Robin's couplehood in this episode. It was a hoot. The whole Canadian thing was excellent.

Speaking as a permanent third wheel, I felt for Ted and was actually sympathetic to him for a change. Ouch!

I will second the "pick a personality for Lily" thing. I have a hard time believing she'd insist on the puppy book rather than chugging Tantrum and singing myself. I also thought, "Here's plenty of ammo for the Lily-haters in this episode," because it really didn't serve her well at all. I don't like it when Lily or Robin are made into Typical Girlfriends, i.e. No Fun and Make You Do Relationshippy Things Rather Than Bro Stuff. I guess those are the moments that make it clear that two guys run this show.

cpennylane said...

I was just happy that they didn't take the cliche that Robin was getting deported so she had to get married right that second. However, I am afraid they might be setting up a greencard marriage to Barney.

I hope not. I also don't think that you can get duel citizenship, unless you are a Canadian who is born in the US.

mrsb said...

@ andythesaint

If we see everything on the show through Ted-goggles, then why does he always come off looking like a douche?

I just don't think this is true. Otherwise, how would we be watching anything that doesn't involve Ted?

Matt said...

I'd have to rewatch to be sure, but didn't this episode feature zero Saget voiceover? Has there ever been a previous episode that didn't feature any?

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

@mrsb
Someone else has argued (I believe here, but it could have been elsewhere on the interwebs) that unreliable narrator Ted IS why current Ted comes off as a douche. We often see the flaws of our old selves, and possibly even exagerrate them for comedic effect when telling old war stories. It's along the lines of "can you believe we dressed like that back then? Do you remember how much we cared about silly things?"

It's true that the show can use this too much as a crutch/excuse for presenting things that we don't like/things that don't work/things that contradict previous things, and it's their job to not overdue this perspective to the point where the audience is turned off. But in this particular instance, I'd argue that Lily is annoying because Ted is remembering being annoyed at her. The test will be if after this episode, with the seeming resolution between Ted and Marshal, if Lily continues to be annoying.

Toby O'B said...

The mouse hepped up on Tantrum exploding... so wrong and so funny. There I admit it. I have a sick sense of humor.

J.J. said...

I don't have much problem with Lily's supposed dual personalities.

This goes back to the episode where Ted/Barney went clubbing while Marshall/Lily stayed in to host a wine tasting back in season 1 or 2.

I mean they've established that Lily thinks they should be transitioning to a more adult/sophisticated form of fun now that they're not kids anymore.

Mike said...

I'm trying to avoid spoilers, so I only skimmed the comments. I didn't see it was mentioned, though: why isn't this episode online yet? Isn't it usually up by this time?

jeanne said...

She's a Canucks fan, but it's considered weird that she doesn't know/watch a Leafs vs Oilers game? (Granted if you lived in Toronto you'd know when they were playing, fan or foe. Still, most people do not memorize the entire NHL schedule.)

I do not believe for one second that Robin only just then found out about dual citizenship. She lived in Vancouver and hangs out in NYC with Canadian expats. Many of them don't want dual citizenship, but it's a very well known possibility, and it's silly to imagine that someone well-educated who is living in the US would assume it doesn't exist. (I don't care that the process was all wrong, because no one watches sitcoms for insight into immigration wait times.)

Molly Q said...

We definitely need another catchy phrase for the extraneous person, since everyone (even Alan!) says "third wheel" instead of "fifth wheel." A third wheel is, in most cases, important to a vehicle (imagine a car without wheel #3), while a fifth is, obviously, just hanging there with nothing to do. I know the confusion comes because the fifth wheel is often the third person in a group, but it's still wrong.

Maybe we can start calling it the "Ted"? Man, I felt like a Ted last night when those two started going on and on about their vacation.

Mark B said...

Outside of the Atlantic provinces we're not a musical race, and the national anthem is the last thing a bunch of Canadian expats would sing (or know the words to). Some maritime folk song would be much more likely: either sentimental (Farewell to Nova Scotia) or loser/patriotic (Barrett's Privateers)

Maybe so, but "O Canada" is something the American audience would easily recognize. Sometimes accuracy gets sacrificed for the sake of the joke.