How I Met Your Mother – “Woooo!”

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“Woooo!”

November 17th, 2008

Scoring its highest ratings since the season premiere, which were close to its series high levels, How I Met Your Mother has grown from a niche success to a bona fide comedy hit, scoring extremely impressive numbers in key demographics in particular. Whether it is the result of the recent stuntcasting trends, or just based on the show’s undeniable quality, How I Met Your Mother has in the span of only a year gone from a show fighting for its life to a show that CBS will be keeping around as long as possible to allow it to expand into syndication.

When that happens, I don’t really know if “Woooo!” is going to resonate very well as an episode of the series in terms of its broad strokes. While the titular expressions of happiness are, as the episode cleverly shows, veiled cries for help amidst a pool of self-pity, this episode lacks a certain level of depth that could help elevate it. The episode returns to the Barney and Marshall battle for Ted’s best friendship, but after last week delved into the question of parenthood this week we see very little on that level of character building.

Instead, what we get is an office in the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Strip Club in the Letter “N,” and let’s be clear: on that level, this was a very sharp and (when it repeats in syndication) thoroughly entertaining half hour.

Ted and Robin are both in fairly pathetic states in their life right now, and they both end up one of the “Woo Girls” by episode’s end, those who Woo at everything they do in an effort to hide their struggles in the areas of love, employment or just life in general. It’s a fun gag that has its levels of humour: the eventual reveal, through subtitles, of their inner desires was quite clever, while the various rhyming sequences felt a bit cliche and required some major work on behalf of the performers to pull it off. Jamie-Lynn Sigler (just coming off a guest stint on Entourage as well) was a bit all over the place as Jill, Lily’s co-worker and head Woo Girl, to be honest; she wasn’t bad in the more serious moments, but a couple of Woos in the montage felt more forced than they should be. I am not one with the Woo by any means, but they should have felt more spontaneous (And yes, I am perfectly aware how pathetic it is to be criticizing Woo delivery).

Either way, it did a good job of getting to Ted and Robin’s issues without weighing down the episode. Robin and Lily’s friendship isn’t explored very often, so it was nice to see them return to some questions of singlehood and marriage that are not strictly about children. It did seem a bit egregious to bounce from last week’s episode, where Robin was the third wheel to Marshall and Lily, to a sequence where Marshall is the third wheel to Lily and Robin, but it works thematically speaking and both Smulders and Segel revel in playing the role of the haplessly obtrusive individual.

The real memorable side of the episode, though, is in (of all things) the search for an architect to design the new headquarters for Goliath National Bank. Sure, it’s a nice place for Ted to prove that he’s capable of success even in the wake of Stella’s betrayal, but most importantly it is an excuse for Barney to have a fantastic crisis as he is faced between Ted’s friendship and Swedish Architectural Collective SVEN. Comprised of three new wave musician types in unitards, they propose the greatest building of all time: rising in the shape of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Barney would be front and center in the T-Rex’s head with a button that makes it breathe fire at his disposal. No one could possibly not make Barney’s decision to select the other building: it breathes fire, people!

As far as the storyline overall goes, there are questions about Ted’s employment situation (Wasn’t he the sort of boss before? Or was he just boss of that team within a much larger company?), but it feels like the right time to get down to more concrete things. Early on, with Marshall homeless and Ted in a relationship with Stella that we knew was transitional, things didn’t feel well-weighted down. Now, though, with episodes about real emotional responses to reality and pregnancy over the past few weeks, it feels like the show is really returning to its roots. I don’t know how far they’ll go with the building storyline, whether it will let Barney/Marshall/Ted become a three amigos of some sort within the offices, but I like where we’re settling our characters.

Overall, though, it’s another episode that will be remembered more for its little things than its connectivity to any of the show’s over-arching themes. They are due to return to the Robin/Barney question at sometime in the future, and there’s certainly some pathos heading into Ted’s next birthday in regards to the Goat, so here’s hoping that we can settle in and then move onto those opportunities.

Cultural Observations

  • Loved the Mad Men shoutout, especially Barney’s ignorance to the show despite his desire to smack a secretary on the bottom. Well played, Bays/Thomas.
  • This was a good episode overall for Barney: you have his inability to distinguish Sweden and France, the attack of the pigeons, and even the coda where he had yet another attempt at the tricycle torn from his grasp by the mere recollection of Ted Mosby (And, you know, his inability to walk).
  • After consulting with a friend, Jason Segel either needs to get a haircut or shoot whatever he’s leaving it long for – it’s getting distracting.
  • Lily’s pathetic attempt to be a Woo Girl was mostly just sad, sure, but I do enjoy someone yelling awkwardly about prostitutes and STDs as a general rule.

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