Tuesday, November 03, 2009

How I Met Your Mother, "Bagpipes": A lover, not a fighter

Quick spoilers for last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I get you to call me A-Sep...

It's interesting: when Ted and Robin were together in season two, the show occasionally did stories about the state of their relationship (particularly towards the end as they were doomed). More often(*) it felt like just a fact of life, while the stories usually focused on other characters, or on Ted and/or Robin stories that weren't specifically about them dating.

(*) With the usual caveat that it's been a while since I've watched most of those episodes, and that memory can re-write history to suit your whims. And in some cases, it's a gray area; the Robin Sparkles plot from "Slap Bet" was partly about Ted's concern that his girlfriend was keeping a secret from him.

Season five, on the other hand, has been checking early and often in on how Robin and Barney are working as a couple. And for the most part, it's worked. With Ted and Robin, the issue was that they were a couple who wanted different things, which is only funny to a point. With Barney and Robin, it's two people who don't really want or know how to be in a relationship, but who like each other too much to not be in one. So the potential for comedy about it has been much greater, and paid off well in an episode like "Bagpipes," which put them in contrast to ultra-functional Marshall and Lily.

"Bagpipes" had a lot of distinctly "HIMYM" comic touches - Future Ted substituting bagpiping for sex (plus, bagpipes often just sound funny), a throwaway Slap Bet between Ted and Marshall (paid off immediately so that Thomas and Bays don't have to answer even more questions about future slaps), Barney imagining himself as Lily's husband (and then Marshall's epic fail at restating Barney's imagined argument) - and would have worked for just being silly. But I'm also curious to see what basic relationship hurdle the writers place in front of Robin and Barney next.

What did everybody else think?

24 comments:

mrsb said...

I loved this episode, much because I love when they pair Barney and Lilly - even in fantasy spoofs.

Lilly also seemed somewhat more likable in this episode, thank heavens.

Barney and Robin make a way better couple than Robin and Ted. I truly believe it's really just because Barney is a part of the couple, much in the way I think Ted and Barney would make a better couple than Ted and Robin.

Karen said...

I think my favorite scene, actually, was Marshall schooling Barney early on regarding his credentials as best boyfriend ever. I will never get tired of Marshall calling Barney "rook."

Zachary said...

The bagpipes gag didn't work for me. They've done this sort of bowdlerization-played-literally gag before and this didn't add any sort of new twist. It just felt like a rehash.

On top of that, it didn't make sense. Are we supposed to believe that Future Ted is uncomfortable saying the word "sex" in front of his children? Even within this same episode, he seems glad to tell them about their Uncle Barney and Aunt Robin's activities, so why the reluctance to talk about a married couple he barely knows and who are probably long since dead?

Matt said...

The writers have done such a good job introducing innocent phrases to replace those which may be not so innocent. Smoking pot = eating a sandwich, dumping at work = reading a magazine, and now mattress dancing = playing the bagpipes!

I think it's interesting the writers are focusing much more on Barney/Robin and Marshall/Lilly than any romantic entanglements Ted has caught himself in. We know the mother is in the econ lecture he crashed, but aside from the double date and minor story line in "The Sexless Inkeeper", we haven't seen a whole lot of Ted's love life. I can't say I'm too torn up about it either. Some of these recent episodes have been out of the park funny.

Hal Incandenza said...

Probably the best episode of the season for me (though let it be said that Marshall's "I'm going to try to follow Barney's advice to the letter but fail miserably in so doing" is lifted directly from virtually every single episode of Home Improvement--substitute Marshall and Barney for Tim and Wilson, of course. This is not a compliment.)

Nicole said...

Whoa...Hal Incandenza!! Nice name - as soon as I saw it I immediately thought of pages and pages and pages of intricate footnotes.

I did really love this episode, and Marshall's epic fail was so funny that it doesn't matter to me that it's a bit of a cliched storypoint. And I agree with the poster who said that the best scene was Marshall schooling Barney at the bar - hilarious.

Bobman said...

I think my favorite scene, actually, was Marshall schooling Barney early on regarding his credentials as best boyfriend ever. I will never get tired of Marshall calling Barney "rook."

This. Totally. Smug Marshall is hilarious.


Also, this episode reminds me that I want to institute a Slap Bet policy with my friends.

semicolwin said...

Also, this episode reminds me that I want to institute a Slap Bet policy with my friends.

I actually lost a slap bet with a friend. Luckily he lives across the country right now, but I could definitely see him slapping me when I pick him up from the airport for Thanksgiving.

dez said...

But I'm also curious to see what basic relationship hurdle the writers place in front of Robin and Barney next.

They've already hinted that Barney misses the single life, so it'll probably be something involving that. Unfortunately.

Anyway, this ep rocked. I loved seeing another slap bet, and Barney's fantasy of Lily was hilariou.

George said...

Good to see Marshall having something major to do, he's been in background a whole lot this season.

I still don't think Barney/Robin is any good, I don't even know why they like each other. They slept together once in 'Sandcastles in the Sand' and so Barney's suddenly in love, as for Robin I have no idea what she likes about Barney....

Preferred Barney when he was just a catch phrase machine, even if he was as much a douche as every cast member of entourage combined. SUIT UP!

I miss all the inside callbacks/jokes. Been waiting too long for a slap, no mention of Swarley, crazy/hot scale etc., and I haven't heard anyone say legendary in a while. Barney as a somewhat rounded human sucks!

Seasons 1,2 and 3 were great. 4 had some good episodes, it got a bit weird when they cast RUTH FISHER as Barney's mum and he had hired actors to play his family. And as much as I love Scrubs, I thought the whole Stella thing was a mistake.

Gone way off topic, but I used to really love this show and now it's lost what made it great. Douche Ted, Lirshall (Marly?), and the new Barney and Robin get a few laughs for me but I don't like them nearly as much as I used to.

The last episode I truly loved was the one where Marshall went all round NY with Regis trying to find that Burger place.

Not a bad episode, but meh.

Alyson said...

Wait, I missed the slap bet. Can someone tell me? Man, I went to the kitchen for like, 5 seconds and missed a slap bet.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Ted slap bet Marshall that following Barney's advice would backfire. Marshall then shows up at Ted's doorstep saying Lily kicked him out of the apartment. Ted slaps him.

Pat said...

I'm not loving this season. I miss single Barney

srpad said...

This episode felt almost like a HIMYM greatest hits: You had the literal metaphor where Ted tries to hide something bad from his kids (sandwiches vs. bag pipes); a slap bet; playing around with time and a few others. For some reason it all just seemed very "aware" of itself to me and not natural. I could almost hear the writer's room saying "This is what you guys like so here you go."

There was quite a few laughs and it wasn't a bad episode; it just seemed...off to me.

Tyroc said...

Pretty funny episode. I too adored the "rook" line.

Alan, I will say that another reason the Robin/Barney relationship is more interesting than Robin/Ted is that we knew from the start that Robin/Ted would not work out in the end, so it felt like a giant stall the whole time.

gravyboat said...

George,

While I agree that I'm not entirely sure what draws Robin to Barney, I think they've done a good job of setting up why Barney is so into Robin. Their chemistry--and the seeds for him being impressed by her--was established way back in season one, and they've tended to it gently ever since: Their trip to the cigar bar, playing laser tag, her taking care of him when he had the flu, him realizing that she doesn't wear makeup...I buy Barney organically falling for her.

Also, I really loved getting to see multiple stages of Marshall and Lily's fight at once. The show has always played with chronology in a fun way, but folding multiple points of time into the same shot the way they did for Ted's blind re-date earlier this season and the way they did in this episode is a new twist on it that I'm digging.

Kensington said...

I missed the bagpipe gag setup. I thought they were really playing the bagpipe, which did seem a little odd. :-)

Regardless, including a mini stslap bet was comedy gold.

Vanessa said...

Yesterday was my birthday and before we watched, I was thinking a slap bet payoff would be a great present. I had a great day and then got a slap bet too!

I also really liked the way Lily & Marshall spawned into many Lilys & Marshalls having different fights.

Jennifer said...

I enjoyed the reversals on this show. Barney and Robin being irritatingly schmoopy and TED of all people calling them out? Bwah.

I am, however, sad that they are already (heavily) foreshadowing an early demise to the relationship in most of the episodes so far. Bleah, so far I've been enjoying the craziness of those two coupled (particularly in Canada).

gravyboat said...

Jennifer, maybe I'm just being completely oblivious, but what are the foreshadowings of an early demise? I mean, yeah, Barney had a "what have I done?" moment at the end of "The Sexless Inkeeper," but he and Robin have seemed, to me, to be growing into eachother and into the relationship, from the few episodes we've gotten so far, at least. I'm curious as to what you're responding to.

Brandy said...

I'm unspoiled but I do suspect we'll have an "early end" They are right now trying to be something they aren't and it isn't going to work that way. They have to be together trying to do the traditional couple and then apart trying to go back to who they were before before realizing that what they need is to be together but in a less traditional couple role. I honestly think they'll get there by the end of the series but we aren't anywhere near that now.

Anonymous said...

Why did Robin think it was too cold to get naked in the ski lift? Isn't she Canadian?

LoopyChew said...

On a second watcharound, I finally got the "Shut the bagpipes up!" joke.

Man, am I slow.

CAPTCHA: "catingl." I honestly have no clue, but it sounds kinky.

Anonymous said...

Can't put my finger on it, but this used to be my fave comedy and now I'm just sick of it. Seems like they've exhausted their jokes and storylines. The Robin/Barney thing is just too unbelievable too.

I'm now Modern Family, Accidentally on Purpose and Community, all the way.