Tuesday, October 06, 2009

How I Met Your Mother, "Robin 101": You can still call me Nwanda

Quick spoilers for last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I mention hockey's lack of popularity in the US...
"And don't take a picture of it. She will punch you... and you will cry... for the third time... that night." -Ted
If you can look past a really dumb and unfunny subplot about Marshall's favorite barrel, "Robin 101" was probably the strongest episode so far of "HIMYM" season 5. It highlighted the various eccentricities that make Robin one of the more successful Pretty But Also Funny female sitcom characters in recent memory. It showcased Barney both at his most immature ("They said I had A-D-something... Can we have class outside?") and thoughtful (as Ted said, he was actually trying to keep Robin). And Ted was a good mix of earnest and smug (particularly in the flashback to Robin's POV on her "surprising erogenous zones").

It was odd to have two sitcoms in less than a week do a "Dead Poets Society" parody, but when most TV shows are being written by producers of a certain age, and therefore have similar pop culture touchstones, (See also "The Karate Kid," which was sort of alluded to right before that, when Ted challenged Barney on all he'd learned.) You just don't usually see those same touchstones on different shows within a few days.

Overall, very funny (particularly the scene I quoted above), and very "HIMYM." What did everybody else think?

40 comments:

Grunt said...

I found the barrel subplot somewhat funnier than you did Alan, if only because my husband wandered into the room and, without knowing the subplot, saw the barrel and said, "oh, look at that nice barrel, we could totally use that!"

One does wonder how Barney became so successful (and learned to speak Korean) if he has A-D-Whatever.

Bryan said...

I agree - best one of the year but not still not great. I always find Robin very funny.

Maybe a minor point but a real pet peeve of mine- Barney standing up on the desk saying Captain my Captain was great - Ted explaining it by saying "wasn't DPS great?" is lame and very sitcom-ee. Just do the joke if they get it they get it, don't explain it.

Matt said...

I found the barrel plot more amusing than Alan did, as well, primarily because of Segel's utter enthusiasm about the barrel, but it didn't have enough of a payoff--the show works best when all the characters have something to do, and Marshall and Lily got short shrift this week.

Brandy said...

In fairness Ted and Barney are of the right age to make a Dead poets Society reference. It's more of a problem when writers of a certain age script it for tweens to say.

It's an old reference but it is age appropriate.

Brian said...

I had high hopes for the barrel subplot - I usually love when Marshall carries the B story - but it did kind of fall flat. Luckily, the A story more than carried the day. Great episode.

erin said...

I didn't find it as laugh-out-loud funny as the other season's episodes, but i'm finding this season to be pretty strong overall, and i really enjoy the way they're playing Robin/Barney.

I lOVED the flashback where Robin is faking her erogenous zones.

And ted improving his teaching technique (which seems like it would be a genuine problem for a new teacher) while trying to knock some sense into barney was cute.

It's amazing that Robin and Ted lasted as long as they did, as she seems like she would tire of Ted and his Ted-ness long before that time! She and BArney are a much better fit!!

David said...

Maybe I was not in the right mood, but I found this episode to be lacking. One of my least favorites, actually.

Rick said...

I thought the first two acts were great; some top-notch HIMYM.

Act 3 was from some much lesser sitcom.
Once we came back from that commercial, all the jokes were incredibly obvious or telegraphed too early- did anyone not see the journal going missing the moment Barney put it down?

Jen said...

A really fun episode. I loved the DPS reference, as I had watched the movie the previous night. However my roommate had no clue about the reference until Ted explained it (despite me mentioning minutes beforehand about watching DPS). We're the same ages as the characters, so it was doubly disappointing to me that she missed the reference.

Also, as a Columbia Arch grad, the stuff that Ted is teaching cracks me up.

Dan said...

I can't believe that so far no one has mentioned of the best joke of the night... the six words that Robin has always longed to hear from her father:

1. Robin
2. I'm
3. proud
4. of
5. you
6. eh.

Slim said...

Totally agree - strongest episode to date.

What's more - the hockey asides were pretty funny. Although, the Trevor Linden dig was completey wrong (I looked it up to be sure... he didn't submarine anything in 2004. I think it was that dude who punched the other dude in the head that made int'l headlines.)

(Also, T. Linden to the Canucks is almost like Jeter to NYY, Favre to Packers (pre-Jets), Papi to Red Sox... one of those guys the fanbase loves as much or more as the team itself.)

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the Breakfast Club nod along with Dead Poets and Karate Kid..."can you hear this? Do you want me to turn it up?" - John Bender.

Anonymous said...

Loved it. And, I actually liked the barrel subplot, because the line "someone is going to find...just, the best barrel" made me laugh out loud, and I found it a sweet testiment to Ted and Marshall's friendship when Ted knew immediately what barrel they were talking about.
But yeah, what made the episode was obviously the hilarious A-story. Great episode.

I thought it was interesting how Ted said that when Robin says "I love you", it means that she has broken up with you in her mind. This must mean that they were already drifting apart by the time "First Time in NY" rolled around.

Amy said...

Line of the night for me:

"When you date someone, it's like you're taking one long course in who
that person is, and then when you break up, all that stuff becomes
useless. It's the emotional equivalent of an English degree."

bettyd said...

I agree with Dan. The 6 words cracked me up - had to explain to my husband the last word.

Anna said...

I live in Manhattan and completely related to the barrel story.

First, when a roommate moved in, she put stuff on the curb, turned to move the car, and people started trying to take her stuff.

Second, I recently had to get rid of my favorite chair a new roommate moved in. It made me sad that it sat on the curb. (I hope it wasn't taken to the dump).

jenmoon said...

I ignored the barrel thing. I also enjoyed Lily and Robin ignoring Ted's "bowl" babble.

Otherwise, I enjoyed this episode.

ithor6 said...

Funny episode, B-plot wasn't up to snuff, but Marshall is able to take on that kind of stuff and still make it endearing.

One thing struck me, though, Marshall was so winded by bringing the barrel upstairs only to take it back down the the curb. A very minor point, I understand we needed Marshall to explain the barrel, but a lazy start didn't bode well for the rest of that plot.

dez said...

Line of the night for me:

"When you date someone, it's like you're taking one long course in who that person is, and then when you break up, all that stuff becomes useless. It's the emotional equivalent of an English degree."


Same here. It's funny because it's true!

Chris said...

@ithor6: A Tuned In commentary had a good response for the issue of why Marshall dragged it upstairs first: "Duh! So the girls could say goodbye to Mabel! After all, once she was in the Bermuda Triangle, she was going to be gone instantly. He was also hoping Robin would jump at the chance to have Mabel at her bedside."

Read more: http://tunedin.blogs.time.com/2009/10/06/himym-watch-the-professor-of-desire/#ixzz0TAgRvuKC

Graeleight said...

I found the barrel subplot somewhat funnier than you did Alan, if only because my husband wandered into the room and, without knowing the subplot, saw the barrel and said, "oh, look at that nice barrel, we could totally use that!"

I trust you told him of your allergy to barrel resin?

Yeechang Lee said...

A disappointing episode after last week's gem. Who didn't foresee the notebook magically disappearing, or a non architecture-related picture showing up in Ted's lecture? And, really, a "Robin 101" course that requires a classroom with a chalkboard?

How I Met Your Mother works best when it avoids traditional-sitcom trappings. Sadly, this episode was full of them.

Anonymous said...

@Slim
Linden's second stint with the Canucks, during the 2004 season, was more of a veteran leadership role. Whereas his first stint, he was a top-30 forward in the league. So while her depiction as naming him as the reason for their downfall was wrong, but the contrast was notable. Didn't Robin come from Ontario? Off the top of my head, this is the third specific Canuck name drop on the show (Mason Raymond, when Robin got drunk on the Molson and got into it with Lily; and two weeks ago at the hockey game with Brad, calling out Hordichuk). Ok.../endhockeynerd

I'm 26...yet I still re-watched the dialogue where Barny wanted to draw boobs on the chalkboard...a few times. Ok ok...I called a friend and held the phone up to the TV. Yeah...we never grow up.

Anonymous said...

ok...I didn't proof read, and left a thought unfinished.

"Didn't Robin come from Ontario?" (insert: it's a bit odd she's a Canucks fan and not a Leafs or Sens fan). With all the references, and Smothers hometown, it's pretty clear the actress herself is a Nucks fan. I dunno, just a random thought.

ok, /endhockeynerd(for good)

Anonymous said...

I think the point of the barrel subplot was that the audience would know that the notebook was gone the moment he set it down on the barrel.

Anonymous said...

Staying true to form, Barney Stinson does indeed have an actual Twitter account (link from CBS' own website, so I think it's safe to call it genuine).

Anonymous said...

Alan,

You're an idiot.

Thumbs up!

Puff


Just kidding...

The Mad Hatter said...

I don't know why, but hearing Barney ask "Canwehaveclassoutside??" sounded like something a little hyper dog would say if he could talk.

Oh, and one last hockey nerd moment; if Robin is such a Canucks fan, wouldn't she be more a sucker for the 1994 team that made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before getting eliminated??

/hockeynerd...again.

Isaac Lin said...

I thought it was mentioned once that Robin is from British Columbia, but I can't remember in which episode. Cobie Smulders hails from Vancouver.

At the end, I kept waiting for Barney to do something, well, Barney-like, but instead he stayed sentimental for too long for my tastes. Though it is a difficult line to walk, I prefer it when Barney can mix his outrageousness with his more humane side. For example, take his rapid-fire monologue to convince Lily to come back to New York: touching yet delivered in a manner completely appropriate for Barney.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I dunno. Smulders accent is definitely a BC accent, and it's not very "hidable," but maybe I assumed that since she's in NYC, Ontario was the more logical point of origin, since most British Columbians looking to seek fame in journalism would likely head for LA.

Mad Hatter - you're right, the 1994 SC Finals would have been a more appropriate Cinderella story reference. The 2004 squad had that high powered West Coast Express Line, even though the Bertuzzi incident derailed the team morale, they were still favored to compete for, if not take, the division title outright.

Anonymous said...

bowl.

Maggie said...

Wow, I am surprised. I thought this was the weakest episode of the season so far, if not of several seasons. It seemed standard sitcom fare - I could see Ross and Chandler doing this without missing a beat.

Millie said...

"I actually liked the barrel subplot, because the line "someone is going to find...just, the best barrel" made me laugh out loud"

Me too...it reminded me of Jason's delivery of "and now I have the FRESHest cereal" in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which makes me laugh every time.

Tyroc said...

Highlighted the whole cast, deep character based humor, great reaction shot when Ted and Barney get busted...

A+

Pamela Jaye said...

I always meant to see DPS, but didn't till someone remarked that RSL looked the same on House "20 years later" ! (I think it turned out to be 19 but I was amazed at my ability to procrastinate, and got me to the library)

I was wondering if, as in Duet, when Ben went to Laura's old boyfriend for suggestions, Robin would get all upset - and she did. But really, having two guys care about you that much? (while not fighting over you) I think that's just very cool.

The Mad Hatter said...

@ Pamela... While you're renting old RSL movies, look for SWING KIDS. It's from the same era, and likewise, it looks like he hasn't aged all that much (Wonder if HIMYM will ever drop a SWING KIDS reference).

It made my fianceƩ laugh because for the first season and a half I couldn't seem to keep Wilson's name straight, so I just kept calling him SWING KIDS.

Bowl.

J.J. said...

The Dead Poets Society joke works for me regardless of the age of the writers or the actors/characters.

It reminds me of the episode a couple years back when Marshall complained of having "She's Like the Wind" stuck in his head because he caught Dirty Dancing on cable.

There's something very familiar to me when friends suddenly make references to a movie out of the blue, and you know it's just because they happen to have caught it while it's in rotation on TBS or whatever.

moofoot said...

The full reason this episode worked so well for me is how well they worked Ted and Barney's friendship around falling in love with the same person - and it becomes something of an understanding more than a competition, which is both genuine and a relief when you know it could've gone other ways.

And all the classroom scenes were hilarious.

Larry said...

I liked the barrel so much that I think it should get it should get its own sitcom or just become a recurring character. Maybe Ted's wife-to-be can jump out of it in the series finale.

Seriously though, I side with Alan on the barrel. The Robin 101 class definitely was amusing.

tinyeurekah said...

Just wanted to clarify the people before me... Robin, according to the song Sandcastles in the Sand, is from Alberta.

"Together we were gonna travel the globe, from Alberta to Ontario..."

At least, that's what I've been assuming.