Tuesday, February 09, 2010

How I Met Your Mother, "Rabbit or Duck": Pants!

A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as you call me Allie Westside...

What a bizarre but ultimately funny episode of "HIMYM." "Rabbit or Duck" pushed into some incredibly broad territory, not just for the cartoonish-by-design Barney, but for the other characters. Both the rabbit/duck escalating argument and then Marshall and Lily's last-minute campaign to find a wife for Ted seemed wildly off-tone - Barney's escalating cell phone nightmare was surreal, too, but in a typically Stinson way - yet every time it seemed like the show was skipping off the atmosphere, we'd get a nice, small, "HIMYM"-y moment like Ted asking for Marshall's permission to lawyer Robin, or Ted and Robin sitting together-but-alone in the apartment on Valentine's Day(*), or Don's apology to Robin at the station.

(*) Said scene reminding me, once again, how good Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders are together, and to lament the "Aunt Robin" thing, even as I buy the ultimate reason for why they broke up.

And NPH had himself a lot of fun dealing with the cursed phone, plus we got the return of both Ranjit and The Naked Man (which Don apparently read about on Barney's blog), so I would say that ultimately, my laughter outweighed my "what the hell is going on?" reactions.

What did everybody else think?

50 comments:

Lannes314 said...

Overall, pretty great. However, I'm not on board with Marshall's prediction that Robin will end up with Don. Maybe I need to see more of the character, maybe I'm still hoping for a Barney/Robin reunion. But despite the apology, Robin could do MUCH better than Don.

James said...

I also appreciate how they continue to reference past seasons/episodes (naked man/lawyered this week and victoria last week).

Admittedly, I thought there was a moment with Ted and Robin on the couch where the spark would be re-lit. I'm with you Alan, I've tried to figure out if there is a way around the "Aunt Robin" bombshell, but unfortunately it looks like this new guy might be her "duck."

mrsb said...

Isn't having Robin fall in love and marry some random guy defeating the reason why Robin and Ted can't be together? I find Robin and Don just a stupid plot.

Robin and Barney? That made sense. They'd go off together to play laser tag and smoke cigars - not to change diapers and get married.

If Robin is getting "settle down with one guy" feelings, they should be with Ted.

Otherwise a decent episode, if slightly over the top.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It's the "settling down to have 2.5 kids" thing that was the stumbling block w/Ted, as opposed to simply not wanting to get married. Don could be a guy who wants to travel the world with Robin. We'll see.

But I also agree that I'd rather see them give Robin and Barney another shot, as opposed to just letting Barney regress (even if the regression was funny this week).

Caravelle said...

I liked the ending with Don because I hated Don and that apology made me - well it's a bit early to say like him, but I won't hate Robin for going out with him.

Marrying, now, that's another story. As far as I'm concerned Robin should be either single, or with Barney (in a non-braindead way this time). I don't know if I buy all the marriage talk anyway. But iff God forbid Robin should get married, it's far enough in the future that I can hope by the time it happens the writing team will have been good enough that I'll be fine with it.

Brandy said...

I don't know, I didn't like this one. Despite the return of Ranjit and Ted calling himself Teddy Westside, I didn't laugh much. Barney's antics are getting old, and while I get that Don is going to be a serious relationship for Robin, they don't have to keep hitting us over the head with it. They keep repeatedly having all the characters talk about how Robin loves Don and how she's going to marry him, and they even went so far as to put a duck on Don's head so we'd know that he's a duck. I don't know, it's just too heavy-handed or something. A little subtlety would be nice. Plus, I get that he's a guest star, so he can't be in every episode, but it's gone so quickly from annoyance in his last episode to suddenly hating him so much she loves him. It's a little weird.

I did like Ted and Robin sitting on the couch, drinking their beers. I'm not someone who wants them to get back together, but I really like how they've believably gotten back to a place where they can be friends again. It's a good thing.

ascot2 said...

I didn't like it - I couldn't follow the lame duck/rabbit metaphor, and I still couldn't get over the fact that Barney just couldn't turn off his phone. Ever since Robin and Barney broke up, the lack of fall out from that (and any real emotional moment at all) has made me slowly lose interest in the show.

Matt said...

I don't think I've laughed so hard at a TV show in a while as I did at this episode. Any episode with Ranjit ramps it up, especially all the knitting. For the life of me, I couldn't understand how he had time to knit a full scarf and toboggan with all that back and forth to McLaren's. The man must have lightning fast fingers!

And Ted should know better than going the Ranjit arranged marriage route considering the first episode when Barney saw the picture of Ranjit's Lebanese wife.

Kind of disappointed in Marshall and Lilly's choice in Ted's future wife, I don't think Natalia would have passed the porch test. Got a good chuckle at Ted's assessment of how much the ladies love him, since he's usually the one getting dumped. But it fits in with the "Ted Mosby is a Jerk" theme for him to think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread.

But lastly, Robin and Don, I don't think so. Not a duck, Robin. Not a duck.

Jen said...

Like Ascot, I couldn't follow the duck/rabbit nonsense. Rabbits always win, so I refuse to believe that calling someone a rabbit is in some way a rejection.

Jen said...

Also, as a knitter, I was extremely impressed by Ranjit's productivity. A scarf, hat and handwarmers? Very nice.

Chussar22 said...

The episode worked for me as a zany trip through HIMYM land. It was good to see Ranjit back again.
btw... during the duck/rabbit argument he says in farsi:

"A duck can swim. A duck can walk. A duck can fly. What else do you want from the poor animal?"

Brandy said...

Hated it but I'm sure that's because of the Robin Don thing. I was a Barney and Robin shipper but was okay with them breaking up when they didn't use Barney and Robin the way that I feel ike Barney and Robin would be used... having a totally cool and indepenedent relationship where each gets to be themselves.

When they made the couple into Marshal and Lily I decided that these writers didn't have the same vision of Barney and Robin that I did. And that was fine.

But the heavy handed he's your duck and you are going to get married with Don who isn't even somebody I like? I feel like they didn't write the Barney and Robin relationship in a way that I could root for it and now they want to hit me over the head wit this other relationship....

But Barney's regressed and Robin is barely a character anymore and Ted's my favorite. How can Ted be my favorite?

If they are going to make me invest in somebody for Robin who isn't Barney they need to spend some time investing in her character... not something they have done at all this season.

KVV said...

Every time there is an awkward, yet vaguely romantic moment between Robin and Ted, I can't help but feel like "Ok, maybe she's not the Mother, but maybe she's still the one Ted ends up with." Lately I've come up with a scenario where Ted and the mom spend like eight wonderful years together, but then she dies, and after Robin burns herself out on traveling the world, she and Teddy Westside find their way back to one another. So the kids never really got to know their mom, thus the reason Dad has been boring them/entertaining them with 100-plus hours of stories. Be a pretty dark turn for a non-Scrubs sitcom, but I still feel like Ted works with Robin on some level, and he doesn't seem to work with others.

Anonymous said...

For those interested, there is a NC micro-brew all Duck-Rabbit. It's quite tasty.

Jon88 said...

The phone number on the photo is not the same as the number on Barney's sign during the actual Super Bowl broadcast. Did anybody dial that number? Curious to know if the presumed HIMYM promo heard there was any fun.

Brandy said...

Last night was the first time I thought, "Awww" too bad Robin's not the mother. The companionship between her and Ted at the end was really sweet.

Funny because I hated the Robin/Don thing and in part because of how they botched (so far) the Robin and Barney thing.

But legitimately thought, "how could they pull off Robin being the mother after saying she wasn't all this time".

I think that's because the character of Ted has grown. Robin is at least given moments of growth with Ted and Don got duck status because he bothered to wear pants... once.

LoopyChew said...

@Matt:

For the life of me, I couldn't understand how he had time to knit a full scarf and toboggan with all that back and forth to McLaren's.

I can easily picture Ranjit as the kind of taxi driver who knits while driving, and since it's 23 minutes in either direction between Barney's and MacLaren's, he'd have plenty of time on his needles.

Andrew said...

The naked man!

Ultimately, not a great episode, but the rabbit-duck argument, Don trying the naked man, Ranjit, and Marshall trying to arrange a marriage for Ted at McLaren's made this one a winner. All of the parts were great, even if the episode didn't add up to more than their sum.

Mildly interesting that NPH held up a sign with a working 877 phone number on the Super Bowl broadcast (I now have an appointment for a date with Barney... in 2016), but the episode aired with a 917-555 number.

Jeff said...

I thought this was one of the weakest episodes. The Barney phone was just plain annoying.

I think the Naked Man reference was the only time I laughed.

I was hoping they could do something with Marshall's depression over the Vikings blowing another NFC Championship game but I'm guessing this was filmed over two weeks ago.

mike said...

judging from the comments here i'm in the minority but i hated robin and barney together. it makes sense that these two people would give it a shot, just like (for me, at least) it makes sense that they wouldn't stay together. barney as a character just doesn't work in a relation - wait for it - ship. i also like don. i thought the don doesn't wear any pants slow burn paid off regarding his duck like nature.

it reminds me of some of the comments i've read regarding big bang theory, where there is a vocal fan base that wants to see penny and sheldon together even though it completely goes against who those characters are.

ghoti said...

All I can say is that this has been my online logo for years and years and I'm not 100% thrilled about this episode poaching my territory. ;)

I will say that I have always been in the duck camp, and there have been many polls and arguments very similar to what took place in McLaren's Pub.

Robert said...

Is it possible that future Ted is a single dad of 2 kids who don't know who thier mother is, and it turns out that Aunt Robin is thier real mother?

bmfc1 said...

"Don" is also on Big Love as Alby Grant's lover.

Randy said...

Lately, I've been thinking along the lines of KVV's comment, that Ted does end up with Robin, but she's not the mother of the kids (obviously).

Also, the duck vs rabbit naturally made me think of Anya. I loved Anya. "Bunnies aren't just cute like everybody supposes / They've got them hoppy legs and twitchy little noses..."

Stephen said...

Everyone who hates Don is forgetting that future Ted already told his kids that Don and Robin end up together. They have portrayed Don as a fool but this episode seems to be the one where Don changes and we see that there's a lot more to him. Have faith in the writers. I'm sure they'll make it work just fine.

Anonymous said...

I also have mixed feelings about the episode but I really love how they referenced past episodes (The Naked Man, Lily and Marshall talking about Ted's past relationships.) The only thing I can say is that the show again broke continuity with Lily and Marshall's conversation when they mentioned Natalie and that Ted is her least favorite person. At the end of her episode in season 1, Return of the Shirt, older Ted told his kids that about a year after Ted dumped her for the second time, Natalie was married and had kids so why would she be single 5 years later? I know it's hard to keep all the details straight but come on HIMYM- that's just lazy!

fabarati said...

Funny episode. And for anyone who wants to know what ranjit said in the argument:

"ducks can swim, ducks can walk, ducks can fly. What more do you want from the poor animal"

And despite ranjit being bangladeshian, he speaks persian.

Laura said...

I thought this episode was really...weird. I loved the escalating argument re: duck v. rabbit, and the moment where Lily dropped the phone into the pitcher, and I'm definitely growing to like Don, but there was just something that felt - as you noted above, Alan - totally off-the-wall this week.

I will say, too, that I feel like this season has been a little too much spinning of wheels and not enough moving forward. Besides Barney and Robin's (sadly premature) breakup and the slow movement on the Don front, I can't think of any ways that these characters have really grown or been challenged this season. (Please remind me if I'm forgetting something!)

I am at the point where I could happily watch these characters do absolutely nothing every week, but it would be great to see them shake things up a bit.

BigTed said...

Speaking of cartoonish... It may be obvious, but I think it's worth pointing out the pop-culture reference to Bugs and Daffy's "Wabbit season!" "Duck season!" debate.

jenmoon said...

I enjoyed the original Super Bowl gag, but after that point Barney's hurricane of hotties just blurred together for me and I stopped caring. (It sure does seem like the writers are making up overmuch for Barney/Robin.) I also didn't get what the hell was going on with Ted bailing on the date.

I did enjoy the rabbit/duck fight (though I think rabbits win, thanks. Have you seen ducks have sex? Y'all don't want to have sex like a duck), though not so much what came afterwards.

I am still not a fan of Robin/Don, especially when it's beat over our heads with anvils. Meh. Don't look forward to the inevitable boyfriending.

Karen said...

This one didn't thrill me that much. The phone thing got old so fast, and rabbits are SO MUCH MORE AWESOME than ducks. It was like they chose ducks over rabbits solely to get the Playboy-rabbit and Donald Duck jokes in, and that seems less clever than the writers tend to be.

I did like Don's apology, but I also think that Robin belongs with Barney. Possibly my biggest complaint about the show is that they spent COUNTLESS episodes building up Barney's longing for Robin and then, once they get together, it was over so very, very fast.

Toby O'B said...

I'm in the rabbits over ducks camp. Try sitting in front of a TV with a duck to cuddle.

Add to the reasons that they probably went with duck - to get that animated duck-bill on Don.

During the escalation of Barney's desperation with his phone scheme, I kept wondering where Rod Serling was. That storyline would have fit right in as a 'Twilght Zone' episode a la "Nick of Time".....

Jen said...

I thought this was one of the weakest episodes in a long, long time. I did like Rajit's knitting -- I assumed he had time to get all that done because Barney had so many encounters over the course of the evening. The only time I laughed was at Marshall's "Drakkar Noir" line -- it took me immediately back to my college days.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a gr8 episode . the blonde with the beer - was
hysterical !!!! How could Barney and Ted pass on that ? Ranjit "McLaren's Pub " --- this show is funny ! But I agree rabbits are better then ducks !

Owen said...

I liked the episode. The only thing that bugged me is something that no one else has mentioned. I just couldn't do the suspension of disbelief that "perfect" women would call Barney's Super Bowl number. That's just doesn't seem right. I know that the whole thing is absurdist, so I should just go along with it for the laughs, but the thing about HIMYM is that the circumstances may be absurd, but it relies on its observations of human nature to be insightful. It this case, it just felt wrong to me. I couldn't enjoy the jokes, because I didn't buy the premise.

I was super happy that Robin and Ted's moment on the couch stayed in the friend zone. I like them a lot as friend. I dislike them together. I'm hoping against a twist that would put Ted and Robin together, with the kids having another mom.

aaron | beawesomeinstead.com said...

what a great episode.
I don't think Robin will end up with Don... I know she won't end up with Ted, but I'm not a Don fan.

Plus, "Who carries a duck foot for good luck" ~Marshall

Jonathan said...

i agree with anon above. natalie is already married with kids by now. explicitly mentioned in return of the shirt. fairly large mistake in continuity, which carter and bays have said they keep track of and like to continue.

Anonymous said...

I thought Duck vs. Rabbit was a very accurate depiction of how some bar conversations get out of control and heated when what's at stake can hardly be objectively decided.

Anonymous said...

And I thought the phone that Barney couldn't stop answering because it might be something better was a very good metaphor for addiction.

Which, with the reference to his life being a "cry for help," makes me think that maybe Barney can recover and get back together with Robin.

Incidentally, my favorite example of that kind of bar conversation occurs in JR Moehringer's The Tender Bar.

7s Tim said...

This episode made is painfully clear that the writers aren't going to bring Ted and Robin together, even though it is clear that they should, even if it would create an alternate timeline that should bisect somewhere around, oh lets say, 2004, but that would be fine, since they should be together. Boycott.

J.Sho said...

I just finished re-watching the final season of Angel and the duck vs. rabbit fight kind of reminded me of Spike and Angel's fight about cavemen vs. astronauts. Both fights were so funny.

Tom Galloway said...

Would've been a fun meta- bit if two of Barney's women had been played by Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci who as singers "Garfunkel and Oates" did the song "Sex With Ducks". Admittedly it's a response to an anti-gay marriage comment by Pat Robertson, but a fair amount of it is, shall we say, appropriate for the episode.

Music video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXPcBI4CJc8

belinda said...

I liked the rabbit vs. duck debate (especially the Don is Donald Duck bit, and "permission to use lawyered?"), but I'm not looking froward to the whole Don and Robin thing. I too envisioned a Barney/Robin union where they'd smoke cigars and be the anti couple but still very much so a couple, and it is still disappointing looking back on how they wrote (and wrote off) this particular relationship, given how long the prelude to it lasted. On some level, perhaps they should have never have gotten them together in the first place until they were prepared to write for it.

Chrissy said...

Maybe this is just wishful thinking, but I feel like the Barney stuff is building to something. He's been so insane lately, there's no joy in it. I think there could be a reason for that, and he will eventually hit some sort of wall and be forced to stop and take stock.

Also, I got a big chuckle out of the Ulee's Gold joke. That really is in every crossword!

P.S. Ducks clearly rule.

NJ Mark B said...

Is it possible that future Ted is a single dad of 2 kids who don't know who thier mother is, and it turns out that Aunt Robin is thier real mother?

Absolutely not. They've already established that the mother is the roommate of the girl Ted dated a few weeks ago.

It may be obvious, but I think it's worth pointing out the pop-culture reference to Bugs and Daffy's "Wabbit season!" "Duck season!" debate.

"Duck season! Fire!"

Obviously, rabbits are better because, dethpicable or not, rabbits can more easily outsmart ducks.

(But on the other hand, yelling out "duck!" could possibly save a life, but yelling out "rabbit!" would not.)

dez said...

"A duck can swim. A duck can walk. A duck can fly. What else do you want from the poor animal?"

Ranjit is the man!

But I still prefer rabbits :-)

Anonymous said...

There were way too many eye-roll moments, as there have been a lot lately. They get too unbelieveable and then I lose interest. If they would just get more grounded and maybe throw in some more guest stars, it could get interesting again.
Bottom line, writers are getting lazy and flat - they need to start taking notes from Modern Family and Accidentally on Purpose.

Steve Wirzba said...

This was one of the worst HIMYM episodes I've ever seen. NPH, and Barney as a character, has been so good in the past, and he has that something about him where even if he's iffy in an episode, or it just doesn't click, you give him a pass - not lately. I'm surprised they managed to make Barney into a character that, in the last season or so, I've grown to not care about any more. Marshall is the only one left that is appealing and consistently funny, in my opinion. It's just a shame.

Although, I liked Ranjit in this episode. I'm pulling for a Marshall - Ranjit spinoff.

Kyle said...

I really liked this episode. It also once again demonstrated this show's ability to creatively exist in the real world, as the clip of Barney at the super bowl was actually shown during the super bowl and if you call the number, you get a great little message.

I greatly enjoyed the 'duck vs rabbit' debate. Alot of times, with this show, the conflicts between the group seemed forced but I believed this one because it definitely seems like an argument I could easily get in to (for the record, I side with Marshall). I still don't by Don and Robin, he can't be a jerk for four episodes and then win over support with 'I just had a bad break-up'. Kudos for bringing back The Naked Man though.

Canuck said...

Do we know, for sure, that the kids Saget-Ted talks to are HIS kids? Isn't it possible that he has cornered someone else's kids (Lily and Marshalls?) at a party and is telling him how he met their mother -- who may not necessarily be his wife? O.K., so I'm still rooting for Robin and Ted! lol

As for Don Duck, if he just got divorced three months ago, I think it's too soon for him to jump into another serious relationship. He needs to regroup personally first.

-- Dr. Canuck