Monday, November 19, 2007

HIMYM: It was awesome! You just got slapped!

Spoilers for "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I compose a song to celebrate the occasion...
What is this feeling that's put you in your place?
The hot red burning on the side of your face?
You feel the blood rush to your cheek.
Tears start to fill your eyes,
and your lips are trembling and you can't speak,
and you're trying,
you're trying not to cry...
You just got slapped!
Oh! It was everything I had hoped for! And even more! Because Marshall wrote and performed a song about it!

I have no idea whether that was an original Jason Segel composition like the legendary "Lady L" from "Freaks and Geeks," but The Slapsgiving Song was the perfect capper to a mostly-perfect sequel to the original "Slap Bet."

I say "mostly-perfect" for two reasons. One, because of the glaring continuity error in the montage of the first two slaps, where the first slap showed was actually not the first of the five slaps in question (which was Marshall's mighty backhand at the apartment) but rather the first slap of the episode (at McLaren's, back when Marshall thought he won the bet because Robin said she used to be married). For a show so geeky about its own continuity, in an episode that was one long ode to the continuity geeks in the audience, it was a glaring flub, and one I'd like to blame on the writers strike in some way. If not, fellow dorks, start composing your no-prize letters now to explain it.

(UPDATE: I checked with one of the producers, and he said they want to fix the clip of the first slap for future reruns, DVDs, etc., if possible. Sometimes, a mistake is just a mistake.)

Two, while the original slap episode featured two perfectly hilarious stories in the bet itself and the revelation of Robin's musical past, the A-story of "Slapsgiving" was a far more sober meditation on the nature of Ted and Robin's post-split friendship. It was really well played by Radnor and Smulders, and something the show has needed to address head-on for quite a while, but every time they cut away from Marshall and Barney and to anything Ted and Robin related, I began to feel like Milhouse in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," on the verge of tears because they haven't gotten to the fireworks factory yet. (If I had thought to record it, I could make my whiny "When are they gonna get back to the slap bet?!?!?!" my new ringtone.)

Still, the slap culmination lived up to the advance billing. Like Barney, I had wondered why the writers/Marshall tipped their (large) hands about the date and time of the third slap, as it would take away the surprise that made the second slap so much fun. But by having Barney question that and Marshall act unconcerned, it only made the whole thing funnier. I did wonder whether we were being set up for a bunch of Mamet-style double-switches and reversals -- finding out that Barney wasn't really scared of the slaps but was just acting that way to guilt Lily into postponing it, or that Lily and Marshall were in cahoots all along -- but the straightforward approach worked fine on its own. And did I mention there was a song at the end? And that Barney, even in pain, supplied the "whoa oh oh oh"s?

A few other quick thoughts:

-I think it should be mandatory that Robin have to say the word "sorry" at least once every other episode, if not every episode. It's never not funny, even when it's not the focus of a scene.

-Also, I talked to one of my many Canadian relatives yesterday and wished her a belated Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, and she told me, "Oh, nobody really cares about that up here." Of course, she's a non-French speaker living in Montreal, so her view on any things Canadian may not be representative.

-I knew a girl once who had a pierced Brosnan. She said it felt like her timothy'd Dalton, only suaver and with a better sense of humor.

-Of course Barney dressed as Borat for Halloween (sort of) last year; as I mentioned in my discussion of the "Douchebag of the Year" sketch on "SNL," Borat is one of the holy trinity of douchebag impressions, along with Ace Ventura and Austin Powers. I love Barney, but the guy definitely has a lot of d-bag pre-requisites.

-The Ted and Robin story wasn't all angst and fighting. After all, what other show would offer up Orson Bean (in another bit of classic "HIMYM" unreliable narration) playing a 41-year-old who says things like "We's gonna get silly, bitches!"?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say that no one cares about Thanksgiving here, but it's a low key affair compared to how you American's celebrate.

Anonymous said...

By the way, everyone should check out what's now up at Funny stuff.

R.A. Porter said...

Not as pleased. I'd rated it a B-/B, but TheWife went so far as to drop it all the way down to C-, since it was a Thanksgiving episode (the bar is so high thanks to Friends, WKRP, and even the oft-derided Mad About You with its many-turkeys classic.

My problems:
- Predictable that Robin and Ted were going to sleep together
- Predictable that a goofy salute would signal the health of the friendship
- Without the double-crosses, Lily's eventual capitulation didn't offer much of a payoff

Orson Bean was a joy, but even he wouldn't have been enough. It needed Marshall's song to save the episode. And I mean that in an Apollo 8 saved 1968 sort of way.

Michael said...

Did anyone notice that the countdown timer read "0days,2hours, 45minute 23 seconds" when Barney said they were less than an hour away? That's just bad all over. and yes, i went back and double checked (yay for TiVo)

The Pale Writer said...

r.a. porter, how dare you mention classic thanksgiving episodes and leave out the cheers/food fight episode.

anyone else have a problem with the "old man continuity"? when he arrives for dinner, ted and robin are in the other room, so he was just interacting with barney, marshall and lily... so shouldn't he have been young in that scene? and then young again once ted and robin made amends?

Michael said...

Pale Writer:
No, because the whole series is done as Ted's narration to his kids (except the Tricycle ep, which had no VO), and therefore is his POV.

The Pale Writer said...

well, you could argue - i'm not, mind you, but you could - that ted isn't privy to any discussion/scene w/o him so how is he relating any of them, but i'm not going to argue that...

i thought it would have been a cool device to switch back and forth since ONLY ted saw him that way, and it would have put a nice bow on robin and ted making up.

Peter said...

Alan, I believe the line is

and your lips are trembling and you can't speak...

not sleep.

AC said...

I loved it all the way through, although Bob reminded me of Brett Favre a little bit (you know, when we actually saw him for real). I agree that Radnor/Smulders did a good job with the emotional stuff, and even though I knew they'd find a way to be friends again, the end of the scene in Ted's bedroom slayed me.

My love for Jason Segel knows no bounds, especially when he's performing a special serenade. He's kind of fearless, no? I'd love to find out that he wrote the slap song, but I know Bays/Thomas write songs, too, so it could be theirs.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit that while I enjoyed most of the "slap bet" scenes, somewhere along the line it began to seem as if Marshall was bullying the much smaller Barney in a too-mean way. Of course, as Barney regained his obnoxiousness it seemed all right again, and the song was the perfect capper.

As always, Ted and Robin are so good together that it's hard to imagine how the "mother" wouldn't pale by comparison. But this show is so perfectly cast, I guess we've got to trust that they'll find someone just right to play her.

-- I once knew a girl who had a shorn Connery. It looked kind of funny, but really helped her to roger more.

Rand said...

I love the general knowledge gag in the beginning, that is so something I've got to use in my house, although it reminds me of a cartoon show Sheep in the Big City which had General Specific and Private Public

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with ra porter, this episode was a huge, huge letdown for me too.

I was really looking forward to it (especially with the little amount of new tv we have left) however every storyline just missed the mark for me. The off-continuity about the first slap really annoyed me and Marshall's song just wasn't funny. I watched it again on youtube and it's still just off, it's not even in the same league as robin sparkles.

And to be honest, I'm disappointed that I disliked the episode as much as I did, especially after all of the hype leading up to it. Does anyone know how many new episodes the show has left?

Alan Sepinwall said...

As mentioned in the update above, I checked with one of the producers, and he said they want to fix the clip of the first slap for future reruns, DVDs, etc., if possible. Sometimes, a mistake is just a mistake.

Jefferson Burns said...


There's now a video of Marshall's song. Watch and enjoy

Anonymous said...

Rand said...

I love the general knowledge gag in the beginning, that is so something I've got to use in my house, although it reminds me of a cartoon show Sheep in the Big City which had General Specific and Private Public.

Don't forget the Beavis and Butthead show featuring Major Woody and Private Parts.

Anonymous said...

I liked it -- it wasn't up to the level of the original "Slap Bet," but Marshall's song was great, and there were a lot of little moments that made it a really nice episode, like Marshall toasting Lily's efforts to bring them all together at Thanksgiving. Plus, I've been complaining since the third episode that the show hasn't dealt with the breakup fallout, so it was nice to finally see Ted and Robin acknowledging that it's weird for them to hang out so much now that they're not a couple. (I also liked Robin's commentary on the parade of nut jobs Ted's been dating this season.)

S. said...

"Oh, nobody really cares about that up here."

I'd agree. It's not a must see the family holiday, like Christmas. It's just a chance to have some turkey.

Unknown said...

My wife started screaming at me about the slap continuity error, as if it was somehow a personal affront to her.

Of course, she may not have been entirely sober.

We both picked up on the number of hours left error.

Anonymous said...

Now I'm just praying they don't come back to Ted and Robin hooking up again, that would fall too much into Ross & Rachel territory.

-- This girl I went out with was too Lazenby to even shorn her Connery. Of course, it was a one time thing, and she vanished into obscurity.

Jeff Goebel said...

At first, I was confused at the timer count down because the clcok in the background was 4:20... and then I thought... oh wait... 4:20.


Anonymous said...

What a disappointment! Every move of this episode was predictable, from Robin and Ted hooking up the first minute they were alone to Lilly giving in and letting Marshall slap Barney. I was somewhat ticked that they even did the flashbacks to explain the slap (I loved the fact that the second slap came out of nowhere and was not explained).

Add that to showing the wrong slap and the countdown screw up, and this was my absolute least favorite episode of this season.

So disappointed.

Unknown said...

I'm a Canadian from out west who lived in Montreal for one Thanksgiving and I can attest that nobody in Quebec really cares about that holiday. It is a bigger deal out west, at least for my family. I have no memory of why Robin explained we celebrate it(explorers finding the northern passage?) sounds like something the writers grabbed off some wikipedia article. I just figured because the harvest is earlier up here from the cold we celebrated in October.