Monday, April 19, 2010

How I Met Your Mother, "Home Wreckers": The money pit

A quick review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I picture myself in something Spanish...

Because I was on quasi-vacation, I didn't write about last week's episode, which largely sacrificed emotional truth for the sake of elaborately setting up the (admittedly pretty funny) "King Kong" joke at the end of the episode. "Home Wreckers" was the opposite of that, in that it told a good Ted Mosby story but fell flat in most of its attempts to build laughs around his pain.

I liked the gang's enthusiasm for Marshall's invention of the Drunk Or Kid? game far more than the game itself, and any episode that involves a character falling through a ceiling without Future Ted saying he exaggerated for argument's sake is trying too hard. (Conversely, Future Ted saying "There was no guitar" in response to his stepdad's painting was one of the few strong jokes.)

But if "Home Wreckers" wasn't that successful as comedy, I did like its focus on Ted realizing his personal life has essentially been in neutral since the pilot. I figured we were heading towards the revelation that the awful house would one day be the setting for the longest story in the history of ever, but I still smiled at the time-lapse montage of the living room's transformation.

At the same time, finding out how Ted got the house that he and the Mother will live in takes us no closer to him meeting her than our glimpse of her foot in "Girls vs. Suits" did. I don't know that the show needs to get back to the quest full-time, but it does feel like something has been missing this season. And since the Robin/Barney storyline didn't turn into the big romance it seemed like it might be at the end of last season, perhaps some concentrated, more focused Mother time is necessary, and soon.

What did everybody else think?


Chrissy said...

I actually thought it was quite funny, particularly the house inspector and his Lily inspection. It had a more natural zing than previous episodes. The best part, though, was the Marshall/Ted coda. I like whenever the show focuses on the relationships within the group, and I think it's been a while since this particular best-friendship has been explored. I like that Marshall made up the game to get the gang off Ted's back, and that he knew based on their long history that Ted would keep the place. That felt rooted in actual character work that we've seen, and it was a nice moment for Marshall who so often has to play silly.

(Also, good on the show for remembering that Heather exists. I was just about to call foul on her not being at the wedding when they nicely dealt with that off-camera and in-character for Barney.)

"And the dragon...."

erin said...

I didn't find it particularly funny, but as I'm about Ted's (and the writers') age, I did find his quest to buy the house without the life he imagined going along with it to be quite poignant. It seems a little weenie-ish when it's coming from Ted, but that might not be fair (he's just so damn mopey about not finding his soul mate, and frankly, all the men I know his age who are available...well, I don't know any who are actually available. They've been snatched up and married for a few years. There are a LOT more single women in his place, from my personal experience.)

The broke-down house was one big cliche to me, but I also liked the setup at the end that he did the right thing, bought the house, and the family came along later--and they're still in the house.

I did kind of enjoy the reveal that Barney had a thing for Ted's mom. But the lead-up with the Robin crying-bit was pretty lame.

I'm losing interest in the show (I missed last week's and didn't really mind), and i'm not sure if that's because of the lack of Mother or just the characters/plots. I Hope something worthwhile happens in the next few eps, because they may not keep me around next season.

Unknown said...

I've really found this season, the last few episodes in particular, going downhill. There's very little continuity between episodes, half the time they are just flashing back to a 'past event' that was newly created for the the purpose of one gag for that episode. It has stopped being clever and fallen into a lull of elaborately setup jokes and short-term laughs, just missing that spark that is used to have. Each episode will have a couple redeeming things, like the 'There was no guitar' line this episode, but unless they make a major change soon, they should really start wrapping this show up and meet the mother so the actors (NPH in particular) can move on to fresher pastures.

Carolyn said...

@Eric M: The incident with Barney and Ted's mom, which was referred to at least once, if not twice, before in passing. Even the conversation in the car about Victoria's broach goes all the way back to the "Brunch" episode in season 2, where Barney asked her for the story behind it. They get some leeway in my book for making up new past episodes when they can bring up minor tidbits like that years later.

They lose some points, though, for forgetting to bring up Marshall and Lily's ill-advised purchase of the crooked floor Dowisetripla apartment.

Brandy said...

I've hated Don in all his episodes but they keep mentioning how serious he and Robin are getting without showing it.

If they want me to invest they need to give me something to invest in. Otherwise? I don't care.

Andrew said...

I was distracted by wondering if a creepier pairing than Angela Petrelli and The Mayor of Sunnydale could possibly happen. I came up blank.

Unknown said...

I liked this one. I thought the inspector was pretty funny, but mostly I enjoyed it because it had some sweet moments between the characters. That's been largely missing from the show this season, and I think it has suffered because of it.

Nicole said...

I don't know why Ted the architect would buy a house without an inspection first, or a sale conditional upon inspection. That part was so contrived that it was hard to overlook.

I did like Barney's stories as well as the chat with Marshall at the end, but I can't say this episode blew me away. They seem to be floundering without the Barney - Robin arc of last season, or even the search for the mother.

And I completely agree that if Don is supposed to be important to Robin, we need to see him more, or more evidence that she is in a relationship.

Anonymous said...

I think I might be hitting the "that's it for me" point with this show. Not only did I not find the episode funny, but I find Ted and his constant emotional crises pretty much insufferable at this point. I guess the little revelation about the house was nice in theory, but frankly I just rolled my eyes. I know lots of people complain about Modern Family laying it on pretty thick with the closing voice over and I found this 1,000x worse than anything that show has ever done.

Billiam said...

I thought the episode would end with Ted tearing down the house and designing a new one. That would have made more sense to me.

Anonymous said...

I was gagging at the Marshall-Ted conversation at the end. Robin's relationship makes no sense since we never see it. Clint was painfully unfunny. Ted's problems are predictable. This show has been pretty terrible and unrelatable all season.

Allie said...

I was distracted by wondering if a creepier pairing than Angela Petrelli and The Mayor of Sunnydale could possibly happen. I came up blank.

Andrew knocks one out of the park..I kept trying to avoid that thought when I was watching. Yikes.

I thought it was about half funny - the "Drunk or Kid" game could have used some more time. Ted leaping forward as an adult? Could be interesting. The "Lily inspection" was pretty funny and I love that actor, Gary Anthony Williams .

Tyroc said...

Not a lot of laughs, but thank God for Marshall liking Ted so much, otherwise he would be unbearable.

Its that old TV trick of having a character everyone likes say they like another one who the audience is less fond of. Like the story of the producers of Mary Tyler Moore having Mary say "Gosh, I like that Rhoda" so the audience would too (as in initial rehearsals, without that line, the audience did not.)

Ted on his own is one of the least likable leads on a TV show that I can remember (and not someone you love to hate, but just someone you, well... hate.)

Rick said...

I need an arc. Any arc, I don't care, just something to focus on. It can be the Mother-Search, it can be an Erickson Baby, it can be Barney/Robin. Anything will do, but I didn't start following this show for single-serve episodes.

What was Ted's lamp-hanger? "I'm still the same as I was five years ago?"

Odd to see Lyndsy Fonseca on the couch after seeing her in Kick-Ass last night. She's certainly, um, grown up.

Katie Fiorino said...

The last scene with Ted and Marshall made the episode for me. That, and drunk or kid? (with drum rolls!)

One thing did really bother me, though. Not tooo long ago, Ted almost broke off his engagement with Stella because he didn't want to leave Manhattan, and now he's buying a house in the burbs? That seems off.

dez said...

Odd to see Lyndsy Fonseca on the couch after seeing her in Kick-Ass last night. She's certainly, um, grown up.

That's where I recognized her from. I feel kinda dirty, now, lol.

I liked it okay, especially the "Drunk or Kid?", Lily inspection, and Barney's overreaching with his big penis.

RD said...

Definately one of the best episodes HIMYM has done in a while. While I didn't really care for Barney liking Ted's mom story, I did like the "huge penis" overreach.

I thought the "Kid or Drunk" game was awesome and I sorta kinda maybe want it to be a running gag.

Lastly, Ted can get annoying sometimes when the show relies on him for the comedy, but he is great when the show relies on him for the romance/coming of age. This episode gave me a retro-feel to earlier episodes in the series when the show was about him finding a girl. I really loved the last montage and, admittedly, I smirked when seeing it too.

Matt said...

I didn't think it was too terrible. It had lots of jokes that made me laugh, even if it wasn't as great as some HIMYM episodes.

It was about average for a sitcom, but when HIMYM is on it is much higher than average.

Also, I kept trying to figure out where I knew Clint from, and figured it out (in a way that I am surely the only Sepinwall reader would know him from) -- he was Gunther in Las Vegas.

Anonymous said...

A continuity goof?
I wonder whether it was mentioned in one of earlier episodes that Ted and kids in 2030 live in the apartment above the pub in which the gang used to hang our for the most of the time? Or my memory plays cruel tricks on me...

Alden said...

@anonymous: Nope, they clearly established they weren't in that apartment. Back in season one's "The Duel" (which I rewatched recently), Ted's opening voiceover is all about, although it's been a long time since they lived there, he still remembers that apartment fondly. So it was clear they don't live there in 2030.

Speaking of The Duel, in the montage last week of Marshall accidentally injuring Lily, they completely forgot him running her through with the sword! One of my favourite S1 moments! That's where the show started to lose ,e cause when they were on top of their game they never would have let that slip. Or, this week where they shame him when their own Dowisetrepla purchase was unwise.

Also, "Say Cheese" and "Hooked" a-plots (people we don't know in important photos and the emotional fallout between exes) were both better addresses, at the same time, back in "Slapsgiving". I'm starting to feel like HIMYM being off isn't just a vague feeling, but one with some consistent evidence showing they're off their game.

Unknown said...

One thing did really bother me, though. Not tooo long ago, Ted almost broke off his engagement with Stella because he didn't want to leave Manhattan, and now he's buying a house in the burbs? That seems off.

At the end of that episode, though, he realizes that he did need to move forward, and he was all ready to move to Jersey. I think this episode was just an extension of that. He's making progress that he knows is right (even if the timing is a bit off and wrong) but just never made before.

I thought the episode was pretty funny overall. Thought the inspector stuff was overall pretty funny (and inspecting Lily was hilarious), and I liked the whole gang being together just teasing each other. There's always a joy in that.

Marshall and Ted's scene at the end was my favorite, though. They so rarely let Segel just play calm anymore that I sometimes forget how much I love Marshall, particularly Marshall and Ted together. The scene reminded me of the end of "No Tomorrow" where Marshall made Ted face the facts about everything. Such a natural friendship and chemistry.

And while it wasn't a huge shock that the house became the house, I definitely smiled and even teared up a bit at the montage. The show's having an off year, but I care about these people and this show so much at this point that they can easily suck me back in.

bmfc1 said...

Is the actor who played the home inspector also in the Miller High Life commercials?

bmfc1 said...

"Marshall and Ted's scene at the end was my favorite, though. They so rarely let Segel just play calm anymore that I sometimes forget how much I love Marshall, particularly Marshall and Ted together."

So true. Marshall's line, "Your heart is both drunk and a kid" was beautiful.

Matthew Stollak said...

Matt said...
"Also, I kept trying to figure out where I knew Clint from, and figured it out (in a way that I am surely the only Sepinwall reader would know him from) -- he was Gunther in Las Vegas."

Clint (Harry Groener) is best remembered by me, as the Mayor in Season Three of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

Anonymous said...

After last night, I deleted the auto-record for this show from my PVR. I'm done. Circle of life.

Karen said...

I was distracted by wondering if a creepier pairing than Angela Petrelli and The Mayor of Sunnydale could possibly happen.

A-freakin-MEN, Andrew.

I, too, liked the bit at the end with Marshall 'cuing for Ted. It was definitely a reminder of why these guys are friends.

And for those of you who liked the "big" and "huge" penis lines? C'mon! It was an enormous penis!

Anonymous said...

I was actually ready to kick HIMYM to the curb, but this episode showed a spark of the show I once loved so I'm sticking around.

Anonymous said...

I hate Ted. I don't care about the mother. My one remaining hope for this show is... the kids on the couch are watching a video of the Bob Saget narration. It is a video Ted made for them to watch in case of his death. This way we can look forward to Ted being brutally murder in an upcoming episode.

srpad said...

Another "not bad" episode but not great either. The show is still funny, it just seems like it has been missing something all season. I wonder if the creators are working on a new show for the upcoming season.It seems like many (most?) shows that have a distinctive voice lose something when their initial creator gets distracted by a new project.

It happened to Buffy, Seinfeld, and more recently, The Office and now it may be happening to HIMYM. Am I right? Do they have something new coming up?

Unknown said...

I did not think anything worked last night other than the inspector. The relationship between Ted's mother and Clint was cringe-worthy. The Robin no Barney cried at the wedding was worse than cringe-worthy. The drunk or kid game was contrived nonsense.

I did enjoy the end with Marshall and Ted, but I found the episode tough to watch. This is one of maybe four or five shows I look forward to and I have been severely disappointed this season.

Jen said...

I'm slightly horrified to learn that I'm the female Ted Mosby: I work in the architecture field, my dad's engaged (thankfully not to Harry Groener) and I'm nowhere near that point in my life. My roommate has been warned to keep me off any real estate auction sites, because like Ted I would totally think that I could handle a major renovation of an old house.

That said, I was so happy to see Harry Groener and a singing Harry Groener at that! (And the dragon...) He starred in the first Broadway musical I ever saw (Crazy for You) and he has a soft spot in my heart for that forever, no matter what hijinks he got up to as Mayor Wilkins.

LA said...

Well... the home inspector was funny, but not much else.

Matter-Eater Lad said...

"Or, this week where they shame him when their own Dowisetrepla purchase was unwise."

After five seasons, do you expect Lily to be capable of self-knowledge?

Alvy Singer said...

Alan you really nailed it about episode. There were some really nice moments and they reminded why I so dearly love this show. As has been noted above, the Ted-Marshall moment, the Barney-Robin payoff (sort of), and the room becoming his current home in that montage. I miss Ted dating and wonder just how Don is the right guy for Robin (he went from sitcom cliche to love interest largely off camera), but this gave me hope that the heart at the center of the show is still there. No question that the kiss between Barney and Virginia was cringe worthy. However, Barney's line about cougars over 50 being called "Mellencamps"made me laugh harder than any thing on TV this season outside of "Modern Family."

Chrissy said...

I think it's funny that some people found Ted hard to relate to in this episode - I don't generally relate to him much, but in this episode I was just nodding along. I'm more in a Robin place then a Ted place (job not quite what I want it to be, but in the industry I'm interested in, serious relationship but nowhere near married), but I'm not much like Robin, personality-wise. And I have definitely felt what Ted is feeling, that time is moving on without you and you aren't checking off the items on your life's to do list quickly enough. Has not caused me to buy a house, but that is such a Ted thing to do. He's all about big, not particularly well-thought-out but well-intentioned, gestures. That's practically the basis of the whole show.

I agree that this season has not been as good as those previous, that it's been lacking some of the snap. But I thought this episode was both funny and moved the plot along, as we see Ted getting a reminder of what he wants through his mother's creepy, creepy, sweet relationship. (Yes, I realize he gets those reminders about once a month. Still, this felt like progress.)

Anonymous said...

There are several flashback/forwards previously that use that same porch set, so HIMYM has that going for it - continuity-wise.

(Especially the flashback/forward of old Lily and Old Marshall.)


David77 said...

I feel like HIMYM has gone a similar path to Lost ie they knew from the start how the show would end - but due to its success, seasons were added and then it was forced to meander for a while to kill time.

Recent seasons don't have the focus and direction that the first two had.

It's the age-old dilemma, do you kill the golden goose for artistic success and credibility or do you keep getting it to lay those eggs for commercial success?

Once we meet the Mrs Mosby to be- how much episodes will they spend on the courting? Wedding planning?

Have they built it up so much that they face the problem of it being totally anti-climatic?

More than other shows, these guys seem to have it under control so I'm not worried - just curious.

Anonymous said...

Normally I wouldn't think this necessary for a comedy, but what HIMYM needs is an end date. With one, they could build toward the mother stuff, which is important, but mostly I think the show is getting close to being creatively spent, so having some forward momentum could help.

I think most of the problems with this season are due to age. The cast and writers are simply tired, and the product shows. Moreover, the show is mostly about adults at a certain phase of their life, and the show is having difficulty stretching that time out. When you add in the fact that NPH and Segal are bound for bigger things that will sap their energy even more, it's not hard to argue that the show would benefit greatly from declaring next season (or even the one after that if they must) to be their last.

I'd rather they get a late-stage momentum boost, heading toward the mother reveal and other big character moments (Ericsson baby, Robin marrying, Barney growing up), then saving up those moments past the point where everyone cares.

crackblind said...

Another continuity error:
Where was Angela & the Mayor's sandwich?

Also, was Barney driving back then? I lost track of his driving history.

This show used to be all about the continuity.

Unknown said...

@ Crackblind

I completely missed their failure to bring back the "sandwich" for the end of the episode. If Ted's telling the story in one sitting, shouldn't something like that hold up across the entire series?

And they've really dropped the ball on Barney's ability to drive throughout the entire series. First, he was terrified to hit the road. Then, later on, he's talking his way out of a speeding ticket. Wazzup wit dat?

I go into every new episode with an open mind, trying not to find holes in every new story, but it's hard not to! When your show relies on continuity, don't throw it out the window. Regular viewers will pick up on those mistakes.

Is it really that hard for the writing team to have just ONE person take the final pre-production version of the script, compare it with previous episodes, and determine whether or not there are issues with continuity? Heck, I'll do it (for a princely sum, of course)!

I currently own seasons 1-3 on DVD. But, to be honest, I really don't see myself buying the last few seasons. A majority of them aren't that memorable.

Jennifer Boudinot said...

I agree with Nicole--the plot hole (no pun intended) with Ted buying a house before he got it inspected was too big to ignore. I'm TRYING to like Ted, I really am, but when the writers make him do really stupid stuff, it's hard. Plus, they already had an episode where characters bought a home before they should have.

I love everything about this show except for Ted and the story of how he met his wife. Unfortunately, they can't really take that part out now! Oh well, I will still watch for Marshall, Lilly, and Barney.

Sinead said...

I do agree with you, I am getting frustrated that they haven't really talked about the mother at all this season.
Also, is it just me, or has Lily and Marshall's relationship been forgotten since they got married?