Monday, September 24, 2007

HIMYM: Tramp stamp of approval

Spoilers for the "How I Met Your Mother" season premiere coming up just as soon as I experiment with my sideburns...

Ahhh... "HIMYM" is back and all is right with the comedy world. Bays, Thomas and company once again prove themselves to be continuity nerds of the best kind by opening the new season by letting Barney finish the sentence he was in the middle of when last season ended, then close the episode with Barney opening up the Slap Countdown website. (Conveniently, Slap #3 should come sometime late in November sweeps, if others have done the math correctly. Me, I'm too lazy for math.)

In the meantime, they found a mechanism for introducing The Mom -- sort of -- that doesn't paint them into a corner at all. All we need to know is that The Mom carries a yellow umbrella and on occasion has reason to walk through Ted's neighborhood. Easy. Million scenarios for that, whenever they want to use one. (Then again, given the news that Danica McKellar will be coming back even though her last episode ended with that annoying Future Ted claiming he never heard from her again, maybe they're getting better at unpainting those corners.)

Speaking of the Slap Countdown, I feel as if I need to write a macro for "While this one wasn't as brilliant as 'Slap Bet,' it was still pretty damn funny," because that now tired but accurate sentiment applies. For me, the two big comic highlights came from one of the show's best humor veins: the gang's love of coming up with creative ways to mock each other. The various nicknames for Mutton-Chop Ted ("Olde-Timey Inventor") and Mustache Ted ("Persian Night Club Owner") were great, but my favorite moment of the night may have been Lily's anticipation of Ted, oblivious to his tramp stamp, saying the word "butterfly." (Alyson Hannigan can cut her hair any frumpy way she wants to if she's going to give us more line deliveries like, "He's gonna say it!")

I thought both of our Very Special Guest Stars were respectable, though Mandy Moore was funnier on "Scrubs." The writers very wisely didn't ask her or Enrique Iglesias to do too much comic heavy lifting, instead making the characters funny only through other characters' reactions to them: Barney's resentment of Amy, or Marshall's developing man-crush on Gael.

If they hadn't definitively established Ted as a non-Jew last year -- the disappointing explanation I've been given is that Ted is based on the decidedly non-Semitic Carter Bays -- I would start speculating about what Ted would have to do about the tattoo to avoid getting the Special Section treatment, but I'll be curious to see if the tat comes up again in the future. Maybe he can be on his way to get it removed when he bumps into The Mom, I don't know.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I am a sucker for continuity and NYC area references. Starting the show with "...dary!" was great and then "or we'll go to Staten Island and get you twelve ones". And then to end with a Slap Countdown website that really exists just brilliant. It's just a great show. Sadly CBS cannot find a decent sitcom to follow it. I sat through about five minutes of whatever this is before I put the Mets game on.

If this was any other sitcom I would say that we never see Ted's tattoo again. But this is HIMYM you know it will be back.

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy to have my show back. Like you said, not an amazing episode in the vein of Slapbet, but still, a lot more enjoyable that most of the stuff I've sat through this summer.

Also, if Ted usually has a breakup beard, why have we neve seen it before?

Anonymous said...

Okay okay okay. So I've heard enough about this show to dive in. I'm Netflixing the first two seasons, and I couldn't watch the season 3 premiere because I was checking out Chuck. So I have a few questions for a beginner:

1)Do I need to wait to watch the first two seasons all the way through before starting on season 3?

2)When do the shows go up on On Demand services or on so I can watch a full episode I just missed?

R.A. Porter said...

It doesn't help me much that I have an unnatural hatred for Mandy Moore (I laughed and laughed and laughed when Andy Roddick moved on to greener pastures), but there was little enough of her. Good stuff with the butterfly, great stuff with the beard - Chester A. Arthur was the winner for me - and not too bad for an episode that had to lay some pipe for new viewers.

As for Big Bang Theory...TiVo was recording it and we killed it during the cold open. "What's the protocol for leaving..." I believe it's changing the channel quickly.

Anonymous said...

In response to Chris W's comment, check out:

There's a video playing that recaps the first two seasons in three minutes---to catch people like yourself up to tonight's episode. It's pretty hilarious. Or should I say awesome? This is definitely a show worth picking up!!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Chris, while the catch-up video is fun, this show is one of the more continuity-obsessed on TV when it comes to running gags. It's not that you won't be able to appreciate the show if you start with season three and work backward later, but that you'd appreciate it a lot more if you saw everything in order.

Anonymous said...

There's no way to say this without sounding like the famous Onion guy who doesn't have a TV, but:

That was Mandy Moore?
That was Enrique Iglesias?

That's what happens when you avoid as much pre-show publicity as possible. And also don't know anything.

(It's not as bad as the "Rudy" episode of My Name is Earl last year, in which I later learned that I had missed half of point, never having seen the movie it was all a reference to.)

Anonymous said...

Barney's "cirque du so-laid" line in the cold open really had me going. Hope this is a sign of good things to come for this season.

Anonymous said...

I liked this episode for all the same reasons as you Alan but also because they answered two questions that people like to argue about...

1) Future Ted isn't telling his kids exactly what we the audience sees (gets over Robyn because he's "bigger" then Male Gael but tells kids it was "something profound and not macho at all")

2) The kids know the story from when he meets the mother to wedding (Future Ted says "you know the short version with your mom's umbrella") so it can be assumed we won't see the mother until the final episode

Great episode over all and I really liked Jason Segal throughout the episode. His massaging of the chicken breast was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Two things:

First, at the end of The Pineapple Incident, Saget's voiceover quite clearly says she "never called back", not that Ted never saw her again.

Second, we've seen Ted with facial hair before. Remember that goatee when he met Barney?

Anonymous said...

One I realized there were two guest stars, one of which would have to sing, I adjusted my expectations. Maybe it's just me, but I read the whole "Everybody Loves Gael" storyline as a minor parody of Iglesias-type guest shots, with Robin's reveal to Ted at the end being the kicker.

I'm hoping the tattoo was introduced as a running gag, as the mockery in that scene wasn't nearly as sharp as in the facial hair scene ("21st President Chester A. Arthur").


Anonymous said...

One thing that bugged me: Ted says something to the effect that Gael is "the Cadillac of boyfriends." This is right before a Cadillac commercial, in the middle of an evening sponsored by Cadillac. They obviously thought the line would be a subtle means of product placement, but I think "HIMYM" is too good for that kind of pandering.

Also, what's with the sexually humiliating bullying all of a sudden? (In this show as well as "The Big Bang Theory.") Giving a passing-out-drunk guy a humiliating tattoo he doesn't want would be grounds for getting your business shut down, as well as a major lawsuit. (Not to make too big a deal over it -- it was a funny scene -- but when you think about it, it's really a form of assault.)

Anonymous said...

That's what happens when you avoid as much pre-show publicity as possible. And also don't know anything.

I was watching a repeat of "Two and a Half Men" (shut. up.) earlier today and Iglesias had a brief role on there, so when he popped up on HIMYM, all I could think was, "It's Charlie's handyman!"

Ted's tramp stamp is fabulous and I look forward to seeing it again. And color me stupid, but I had no idea that was Bob Saget doing the V.O. Thank God they're writing the material for him because his stand-up is awful.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a major complaint, because the show effortlessly fulfills its major promise of making me laugh on a regular basis (I'm with Pete on loving Barney's hot-chick permutations most of all), but the writers really need some distance from their surrogate. Ted comes off charming just barely often enough to compensate for his ridonkulous selfishness, and his hallway conversation with Robin wasn't the first time I thought she'd be far better off slamming the door on this quasi-stalker creep and getting on with her life. Funny as it was, Ted didn't deserve the bone she threw him about Gael's..., well, or even to hear that she'd missed him too.

But yes, still funny as all hell. For a show that's consistently gotten mileage out of juggling the timeframe, I'm sure they've got something up their sleeve for 55 days from now and counting that'll catch me by surprise while managing to play it straight with the setup.

Anonymous said...

Chris W., last season HIMYM episodes were usually posted on CBS "Innertube" the day after the show aired. You can probably start on Season 3 without too much confusion, but if nothing else, you should watch "The Pineapple Incident" from Season 1 and "Slap Bet" from Season 2, since it sounds like characters/setups from those episodes will be back soon. (Plus they're arguably the two best episodes!)

I was more excited about this premiere than "Heroes" (even though I enjoyed both) and I'm doubly happy that I've managed to convert my boyfriend into a HIMYM fan! I was disappointed that they didn't deal with Ted's tattoo at the end but after reading the comments here I'm sure Pete's right, it will come up again in a later episode. Maybe Mom is a dermatologist? :-)

Alan Sepinwall said...

The kids know the story from when he meets the mother to wedding (Future Ted says "you know the short version with your mom's umbrella") so it can be assumed we won't see the mother until the final episode

No, I suspect we'll be meeting The Mom a lot sooner, maybe even later this year.

I did like how they've dealt with the aging/unvailability of the actors playing Future Ted's kids by just showing generic reaction shots of them as we hear the initial voiceover. The times in season one when the kids would interrupt the stories to question/complain about them weren't so brilliant that I miss them.

Anonymous said...

1) Doing the math, Slap #3 will occur on:

Monday, 19 November 2007

2) Anyone else like the meta-nod with Ted's "winning" by being bigger (referencing Enrique Iglesias's small condom joke that the media took seriously)?

Anonymous said...

It's almost crunch time here at work and i haven't made it thru all the comments, but I have to say

Alyson Hannigan got one of the greatest continuity lines of all time on season 7 of Buffy - when Buffy tells her something like Xander told me you told me to kick (Angel's) ass and she responded with "I never said that!" A show which had been dangling in the air since the end of season 2. (maybe you had to be there, but it was just awesome).

I had seen promo Chuck, so I took the time I didn't spend on Side Order of Bland.. er Life to watch the last ep of HIMYM season 2, which went down with my DVR last spring - so I got the (Legendary) payoff pretty much immediately.

Actually I was going to wait till the brother was around to watch it but I decided to watch it/them last night, so I could read the blog this morning :-)

The Internet - Making Sure You Watch Your DVRed Programs in 48 Hours or Less (TM)

Remember that Superbowl ep? My brother managed to make it thru a whole day without learning that Hugh Laurie didn't get the Emmy. That was an accomplishment!


Anonymous said...

bigted, I don't think Ted was passing out drunk when he got the tattoo--he was just drunk enough that he blacked out. You can still behave normally, well, normally for a drunk, and not remember what happened later.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, in the scene, Ted was obviously extremely drunk. (I don't think it's possible for a non-alcoholic to become drunk enough to pass out without it being noticeable.) And in most states, it's illegal to tattoo someone who's impaired in any way.

In any case, the tattoo artist clearly knew that Ted wouldn't want that particular tattoo on that part of his body. That was the point -- he did it because he was angry that Ted was out with his ex-girlfriend. Any way you look at it, that's assault.

Anonymous said...

I usually don't make many mental comparisons between HIMYM and Friends, but I couldn't stop thinking that Gael = Paolo.

That said, terrific premiere!

Pamela Jaye said...

for soome reason when i went after himym season from the front page, this didn't show up. the tag looks right, so i don't know why...
anyway i reread some other stuff before i got here and i also want to note the S3 DVDs have L&M scottish honeymoon videos.