Monday, November 09, 2009

How I Met Your Mother, "The Rough Patch": Fat suits me

Quick thoughts on tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I figure out why any non-TV critic would bother buying a DVD/VCR combo...

How I feel about "The Rough Patch" long-term is going to depend on whether Barney and Robin's break-up takes or not.

It's not that I'm a 'shipper whose enjoyment of the show is going to rest on whether or not a specific couple stays together. It's that I feel like there's a lot of comic mileage to be traveled in a Stinson/Scherbatzky relationship, and the show hasn't covered very much of it yet - and at times has had to bend either Robin or Barney into unrecognizable characters in order to make the stories work. Now, I'm not in the writers room, and maybe writing these two as a couple is a lot harder than I'd think, but if it's just a handful of episodes and out, that seems like a waste.

But in the short-term, "The Rough Patch" was a pretty funny episode of the show. It took advantage of the occasional device of showing us the present from the skewed perspective of Future Ted (hence Barney in a fat suit and Robin looking like a hag). It had Marshall and Lily trying to steal from the porn collection. It had some good callbacks to past episodes (not just Alan Thicke having been in "Sandcastles in the Sand," but the use of "Murder Train" over the quick glimpse of Barney and Robin strangling each other). It had that great overlapping argument scene in the surveillance station wagon between Ted, Marshall, Lily, Thicke, the robot and Badger from "Breaking Bad" as the pizza delivery guy. And it gave us the promise of one day showing us a glimpse of the Sparkles/Thicke failed Canadian variety show.

Not a great episode, and, again, one that will be annoying if it brings us a permanent end to this duo, but I laughed a bunch. And some nights, that's all that matters.

What did everybody else think?

52 comments:

JoelW said...

The line "What's the nice way of saying selfish again?" "Independent," just killed me.

Fernando said...

Y come the headline wasn't "FAT SUIT UP!"?

Solid episode, I loved the argument about whether storm troopers were human or robots and Lily's horror at the fictional death of all those storm troopers on the death star.

the2scoops said...

Seeing as how Carter/Bays fixed that Slapsgiving Countdown clock glitch a few seasons back, any chance they could erase that boom mike that drops into frame in the bar - close-up of Marshall while he and Ted are plotting the break-up without Lily? Yes, I'm a continuity nerd and it was distracting

(and other than that, yes, funny episode with some great callbacks - is horny/evil Lily ever not funny?)

Ben said...

Loved, loved, loved this episode! Don't forget Barney's dying or relationship-ender request...on a porn "tape"...that he knew Ted would watch because of its architecture theme...

That was Legend...wait for it...of the Fall.

The station wagon scene was perfectly choreographed and I love seeing "Kandi" from Two and a half men.

Alan, I kinda here what you are saying about the Barney-Robin relationship being brief, but since I never ever assumed it would last, it doesn't bother me. In fact, in terms of ending that quickly, it almost seems more true to the character of said characters.

I like that after years developing these core beliefs (Robin didn't want a heavy relationship, Barney didn't want one, period), they were changed, but only briefly in their attempt to step into the deep end of the relationship pool. They may not be ready to swim lap after lap, but they can at least doggie paddle a little. That is a step, a positive one.

Who knows, I had fun with it, even though I got squat.

Rob G said...

Didn't 'Future Ted' hint that they would eventually end-up together, in his voice-over? Something about them "letting things run their course"... it was right before Barney 'suited back up'.

Tahlia said...

Barney's stalker 'ex-girlfriend,' by the way, was the stranded-she of S3's "Dowisetrepla," as well as being one of the Final Four in "The Bracket." That, combined with the now third usage of Murder Train, all in episodes that are conceivably Barney/Robin-skewed? I am totally on board with breaking Robin and Barney up.

Jenny said...

Possibly the least funny HIMyM ever. The show always, always fails at its fat jokes, and this was no exception. I only managed to laugh a couple of times during the "surveillance car" scene, but the rest was just... unfunny.

DonBoy said...

Fat Barney looked amazingly like Andy Richter.

Isaac Lin said...

It's not just the wasted time in teasing us with the setup and promise of character development of a Barney/Robin relationship that nags at me; it's also how the show accelerated the relationship to a banal state, thereby trivializing it and the characters at the same time. Does anyone really believe that Barney would become so ho-hum so quickly, or that Robin would just give in to the concept of marriage, or that neither of them noticed their sagging appearances?

(On an unrelated side note, "thank you kindly" for the Canadian theme in your previous banner image that had one of my all-time favourite characters: Constable Benton Fraser of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ("We mount horses.").)

Katie said...

I'm not even done watching the episode, and I know it's weak. Why are they relying on unfunny schtick and over-the-top characterization? Remember seasons one and two? They were just a group of funny people who, yes, had their certain traits and flaws, but this season they are just taking them to a whole new level. Marshall rivals Ross from the later seasons of Friends nowadays (not a compliment), and it just doesn't seem as realistic anymore (you could say Slap Bet was unrealistic, but it somehow worked that Robin had this secret life in Canada). How I Met Your Mother is probably my favorite show, and I've introduced it to a ton of people. But this season is letting me down big time.

d$mania said...

The stand alone episodes this season have been great.

Louis Mastorakos said...

I really hope that this is just a "rough patch" for Robin/Barney. I agree with Alan that it seems like such a sudden move, especially after wasting almost two seasons on the go-nowhere Ted/Robing relationship.

Favourite joke: Barney ends his speech about how good relationships are with "Catchphrase! Yes!" - even better for Robin's constant "shutupshutupshutupshutup" in the background.

Shannon said...

I'm so disappointed in how they've handled the Robin/Barney relationship. They've had them wildly out of character on several occasions, and if they really spent a whole season building up to this, I'll feel majorly let down. There are so many interesting and unique stories they could have told with this pairing, and instead they chose to use tired sitcom standards that don't even make sense in the context of the characters' beliefs.

On top of that, I rarely enjoy any plot that centers around a fat suit as the punchline, and I don't for a second believe that Barney would allow himself to get out of shape, relationship or no. Major fail, in my opinion.

Steve Wirzba said...

Unfortunately, I've stopped caring about this show enough to disregard whether I wished Robyn and Barny had stayed together longer - because I could go either way. This has become a show thats, for me, now just about whether its delivering laughs or not, and this one did, moreso than any so far this season. For that matter, the stakeout station wagon scene was the best scene this season; it was actually *gasp* quick and witty, as opposed to, generic and overdone, as this comedy has for the most part become.

Mike said...

I'm sorry but chalk me up for Barney and Robin splitting up. When Barney walked back into MacLarens at the end of the episode I was already shouting, "He's back baby!" before he declared it himself.

Single Barney is way more fun than relationship Barney.

Hallelujah!

maya said...

They've wasted the opportunity of making the coolest couple on tv. i dont know what happened, i felt that everything was rushed, and both barney and robin were acting OOC, really strange. the best moments were of them fighting and doing crazy stuff, why not explore that instead of making them a regular couple? the whole speech about two awesomes cancelling each other rang true, because thats how it felt for me, they are my favorite characters, i think both nph and cobie are incredible but together they were losing strength instead of increasing it. but again i think the main problem was the plotlines.

as for the episode, it was okay, i hate the fat suit, overdone it, and it reminds me of stupid eddie murphy movies.

David said...

"Fat Barney looked amazingly like Andy Richter."

I came here to post the exact same thing. It was uncanny to the point of being a bit distracting.

Jason said...

Terrible. Worst episode of the series.

Fat suits are never funny. And fat suits on your main characters is a huge mistake, because it demeans them and makes the entire act of watching them unpleasant.

And for a series that really does try to be about the characters and not just the jokes, this episode seemed completely disconnected with the rest of this story arc. All of a sudden Robin and Barney are fat and miserable? You expect us to go with that, given the history of the characters? It's crazy. As if someone sent down a memo saying that the relationship had to end immediately.

And this, from someone who doesn't really care about what happens to these two characters, relationship-wise. All I ask is that they be treated with some dignity and that the show be internally consistent.

Also, with the exception of the stormtrooper bit and the gag at the end with Alan Thicke and the variety show, it wasn't funny.

(Captcha Watch: "tardi." Like a TARDIS, but a little too late.)

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

Ooops, had an issue with posting.

Yeah, my problem was that this should've been a fairly serious episode, given that it was about the breakup of two of the main five characters, and yet Barney was in a fat suit. It really took me out of what should have been an emotionally weighty scene. Also, I hated that they were supposedly miserable together, when none of that had been hinted at or shown at all prior to this episode.

The stuff with Ted, Marshall and Lily was funny, though. I hope the writers go back to writing stories about these characters, instead of thinking up silly sitcom tropes and shoving these characters into them.

dez said...

I hope they put Barney & Robin back together at some point, or I'll be really pissed at how they rushed through this relationship. Right now, I'm just mildly annoyed. I like them together (much better than Ted & Robin).

The car scene was very funny, as was Ted settling in for ArchiSEXture. Heh.

Nancy said...

I agree with Jason.

I am a big HIMYM fan...but, I HATED this episode. Just not funny. It seemed forced.

Nicole said...

It's pretty early in to kill the Robin and Barney relationship, especially when they built it up all last season. It seems lazy on the part of the writers. That said, the non Barney stuff was pretty decent.

And Thank you kindly to ABC for killing Eastwick and giving Paul Gross a chance to regain his dignity.

toonsterwu said...

I didn't laugh all that much watching it. There were some moments, but even the archisexture thing was preceded by a very clumsy looking shot of the tape "flying" in. The station wagon thing seemed forced to me.

But the biggest problem is what they did with Barney and Robin. I don't mind breaking them up if they feel that is the right thing, but they jumped hurdles with the relationship in the span of a couple episodes. The beauty of such a pairing was that, it offered the potential for funny, but serious, takes on a relationship, due to how they have built the characters up

I have some thoughts of why they might have did this, none of which excuses the mess they've made -

a) Writing for these two was hard.

I can somewhat buy this. There's give and take in a relationship, but to have two alphas in one was probably hard for them to understand. Doesn't excuse the mess they made of it, though.

b) Barney and Robin were overshadowing the rest of the cast alone, and putting them together might simply make the other three irrelevant if they invested heavily in this relationship. At the end of the day, this is still Ted's show.

c) They want to have a payoff later in the year with these two coming back together.

d) They simply didn't buy it anymore. Even if this is the answer, the problem is they rushed through the relationship so quick and wasted so much.

Oosaka-san said...

I liked the episode. As for the breakup, I do agree that it's a waste to make such a big deal of the relationship just to break it up so quickly. And just putting them back together would be cheap in my opinion... unless they make this breakup a focal point of their relationship.

After all, one thing that I'd found strange is how they immediately fell into relationship clichés, even though it doesn't correspond to their characters at all. If we interpret this as two character who are terrible at relationships trying to do "what's done" without realizing that they don't have to do all that stuff if it doesn't work for them, then getting into a relationship and breaking up might lead them to find a better way once they realize they really do want to be together.

As I'm of the opinion that two awesomes don't cancel each other out I'd be in favor of such a development.

That said, if they don't get back together but the relationship and breakup contributed to some character development I'd still be okay with it.

Nathan said...

Probably the only episode of HIMYM I'll never rewatch. It was such a downer. I'm not sure why they bothered with a Robin/Barney hookup at all if this is the way they were going to have it play out. It was a waste of all the underlying tension between them, so maybe they should have just kept it as tension until the inevitable ending of series hookup.
The whole thing was just so badly written, though I hope it was on purpose. I'm glad Barney and Robin will finally be themselves again, even if it has come at a cost.

That said, Ted was the saving grace of this episode. His accidental porn watching was very funny.

Anonymous said...

Great bit on Lily talking about how even she had gained a little weight for a while. Nice nod to the pregnancy of last season.

Thumbs up on the episode

Anonymous said...

Back in "Definitions", Barney and Robin decide to lie and say they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Couldn't they have spotted the stakeout station wagon and decided to lie about breaking up to get everyone else off their backs?

Karen said...

See, I'm with @Jason: I just don't ever find fat suits funny. And masking the comic flexibility of NPH's face for almost an entire episode just seemed a tragic waste.

There were a couple of funny lines--and the stake-out station wagon scene was golden--but mostly I just found it all unpleasant.

(I also second @Isaac Lin's salute to the presence of the inimitable Constable Benton Fraser in your previous All-Canada banner lineup.)

Jen said...

"Rough Patch" for me seems like it was talking about the show rather than Barney and Robin's relationship. I don't like when sitcoms do this to character relationships- build them up only to have the couple act wildly out of character and then fall apart so that they can continue the trope of "will they or won't they?" It feels cheap. And in this case it felt incredibly rushed. We just had the episode that introduced Barney and Robin fighting and it seems like the writers never showed us what happened in the interim.

jasctt said...

Jumped the shark.

Zodin2008 said...

I for one prefer single Barney and glad they broke him & Robin up.

While I am surprised they didn't ride this relationship out through the rest of the season and say had them break up in April or May, I'd rather have single Barney back.

And while it's always funny to focus on the group, single Barney, single Robin, and single Ted now allow for more funny guest stars and terrible dates, stuff I like.

But Barney hasn't been Barney and I am happy to have him back.

Brandy said...

NPH is the best actor on the show so to suit him up so that he can't show expressions is really just a poor choice.

Also the fat and old jokes? They just are low comedy.

The stakeout scene was funny. The call back to the crazy ex and Alan Thicke plus an indication that we're in for another video? Those were good.

But this was a sweeps episode and it was so broad and unfunny.

I love the idea of Barney and Robin but they haven't been Barney and Robin in this relationship. so the relationship is doomed. The breakup from that standpoint didn't bother me. But I know loads of couples who are self... independent that have great relationships where they do things they want to do together as a couple but each do things separately. It works It feels good and healthy and adult and I think they could have a lot of fun with Barney and Robin having a relationship that is odd to the rest of the group not because they've changed but because they haven't.

I'd like to think they'll figure that out by the end of the series.

But my love of the show does not end with Barney and Robin's being together.

Laura R. said...

I agree with mostly everything the other commenters before me I said, but I paused and LOLed for about five minutes after this exchange:

T: "They're playing relationship chicken."
M: "I think Barney ate the relationship chicken."

Waiting Lisa said...

There were some funny parts like the stakeout scene. But, fat suits are never funny to me. Monica in the fat suit was my least favorite part of watching Friends. They did the classic fat person joke- constantly eating and being a total slob. Wiping his hands on his shirt, etc. It's not fun to watch stereotyped "fat person" comedy. And this show is too smart for that.

And if that was the end of the Robin/Barney relationship, then they wasted a lot of good storylines that could have been written. I love HIMYM and have watched every episode. This episode was a disappointment.

Andrew said...

I hated this episode less than most, probably because I'm close to shedding the last few pounds of relationship-induced weight gain. In general, I find HIMYM more relevant to my personal life than funny.

The only time this episode really lost me was Barney walking into McLaren's at the end. But it won me back with the promise of the clips from a Robin Sparkles/Alan Thicke variety show in the future.

Heather said...

Not my favorite episode (the fat suit was a little ridiculous) but the promise of the variety show kinda makes up for it.

alex s. said...

When Robin and Ted were together, people seemed to hate it because they knew the couple was doomed and it seemed like the show was just killing time until the break-up. But then the writers break up Robin and Barney quickly and without warning, and people are upset about that. It seems like Carter/Bays can't win with the Tuesday morning quarterbacks.

And not to defend the fat suit, but it's worth noting that it was seen through Future Ted's memory (as he said in one of the first voiceovers), so most of the "continuity" problems stemmed from that.

Tina Marina said...

I thought it was a little lame HIMYM, but still a pretty entertaining half-hour.

I didn't mind the fatsuit as it made me think of "Slapsgiving," when Ted can't help but imagine Robin's current boyfriend as an 80 year-old man, despite the fact that he was only 40. Made sense in show logic, so I could let it go.

And honestly, the Barney/Robin relationship really didn't work for me. They were cancelling each other out, and it seemed as though they rarely were around the rest of the characters. The Ted/Marshall/Lily plotline was excellent!

And with the promise of more Robin Sparkles on the horizon, I think we'll have a major development in Robin's love life to go along with it. "Let's Go To The Mall" was the beginning of the end for Ted/Robin, and "Sandcastles In the Sand" led into the Barney/Robin hookup. They may use this new video, whatever it is, to bring back Barnman and Robin. Who knows.

Whiskey said...

when it was over, Husband and I looked at one another and declared it a waste of an episode. I agree with most of your review *except* for the part where you said it managed to be funny. I think the only time I laughed was when either Robin or Lily made comments about the Stormtrooper. And I agree with those who pointed out that NPH's face is so brilliantly expressive that it's wasteful to hide it under a fatsuit. Blech! Oh, and whoever pointed out that they're turning Marshall into Ross from Friends and this is a really bad thing. I'm hoping the rest of the season course-corrects because HIMYM has been THE most reliably funny half-hour show I was watching for a while now.

heatseeker said...

The episode lost me when Robin made Barney give up his porn. The Robin we know would never do that!

Regina said...

I'm confused by all the "hated the fat suit" comments. I get hating it for triteness sake. But hating it as an insult to fat people just seems hypocritical to me. So everyone else is fodder -- Canadians, New Jersey, hot chicks (presumed to be dumb) -- but fat people are off limits? It's comedy. Everyone's a target, as far as I'm concerned. Besides, it's not like "relationship depreciation" doesn't happen in real life. When you're happy and committed, you tend to let yourself go (happened to me, twice even! but I've since corrected things). That's how I saw it, anyway. Quite frankly I'm more insulted by BOTH Lily's and Robin's contempt for Star Wars : ) You've got a gun-toting, hockey-loving, scotch-swilling chick on one hand and a porn-crazed, t_tty bar-fanatic on the other hand. All things men tend to like/love. And NEITHER of those dames likes Star Wars?! C'mon!

Oh, and add me to the glad-they-broke-up camp. I think writing Robin and Barney as a couple has to be a difficult task. These are two people who, individually, don't act "couple-y" when they're dating other people. Robin's not a Lily. Barney's not a Marshall, or a Ted for that matter. To change them for the sake of making their relationship look like a relationship would come at the sacrifice of their individual personalities, in my opinion. And as far as breakups go, theirs was rather nice.

Tyroc said...

Three funny jokes (all mentioned by the commentators here) does not a funny episode make.

Yuck.

Jessica said...

General comment on the comment section- Carter/Bays is actually one guy, Carter Bays. It's Carter/Craig, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas.

I hated the fat suit and thought it was cheap and beneath the show, but I also hated Barney/Robin so much and am so glad to have them broken up that I'll just cringe and bear it. This time.

Dan Barrett said...

Awful, unfunny episode.

Until the separation.

From the very next scene, HIMYM suddenly felt natural and funny again.

mrsb said...

Wow. Just awful. Blech.

ZeppJets said...

Has anyone else noticed that this is the second time in maybe three weeks that "Badger" showed up as a pizza delivery guy? He popped in on the gang from "Community" for the same reason. Poor fella just wasn't cut out for the meth game.

I thought this episode was pretty great, especially the calamitous pizza/Thicke/robot/crazy Meg/Death Star Genocide sequence.

Evamarie said...

Ok the letting themselves go thing? Didn't anyone think about how Robin never let herself go with Ted? Also, they had only been fighting in one episode prior to this.
I have felt for a while that Robin has felt empty. My theory is they will get back together. Maybe there will be some issues with Robin dealing with Barney going back to his old ways as the last clip implied.

Add me to the list of people bothered by the fat jokes. I know a lot of fat people who are clean.

Also - how come he can tell his kids about The Naked Man, but not let them know he'd willingly watch porn?

~Eva

TheWholeShebang83 said...

Looking forward to the Robin/Alan variety show clip. Barney's on to something, and I hope he's gonna share his coming, extensive researches with us ;-)

Francisco Melo Gonçalves said...

Finally! I don't know what the writers were thinking! If B & R were to be together it was not to turn this show into a pathetic guide to a relationship. Every episode so far this season has been on B & R's relationship. I was getting tired of it. I missed Episode's focusing on Ted, he's got great sarcasm - and him and Barney are way more fun when both are single.
If B & R were to be together their relationship could not have been the most generic, sticky and sickening couple, but instead a free relationship, lot's of other ppl involved, and Ted a bit jealous for never it this way. I could not see it working any other way

electricia said...

I'm reaching way back into my memory, so it's possible I'm completely making this up... but wasn't there an episode where there was a guy Ted went to high school with who became a porn star called Ted Mosby, and did architecture-themed porn?

Things I thought were funny: The Stormtrooper debate, "Release the Kraken!", and...

Hm. I think that's it.

Jonah said...

The scene in the station wagon was probably one of the funniest in the series, and there were some other good parts to the episode. The fat suit joke was unnecessary, though, they could have just had them look ungroomed or something.

Overall, still the best episode of the season.