“Robots vs. Wrestlers”
May 10th, 2010
With its timey-wimey narrative, How I Met Your Mother usually tends to join traditions and ongoing storylines at a point somewhere along the road rather than at the very beginning. So when “Robots vs. Wrestlers” starts talking about the eponymous event being a tradition, it seems premature, but that’s part of the episode’s conceit: the very idea of it is too awesome not to become a tradition, and that’s something that Barney (especially) is concerned with as the group discusses their different trajectories in the wake of Robin trying things out with Don.
I like a lot of what the episode is trying to accomplish, showing each character enough of a potential life without this group to make them both understand their desire to have a life of their own and how important their friends are, so I think this is ultimately a good step for the series. I do think, though, that there were a couple of points in the episode which seemed underdeveloped, like the focus was spread out so much in the episode that details were overlooked that kept it from becoming an outright classic.
“Girls vs. Suits”
January 11th, 2010
I picked up the fourth season of How I Met Your Mother on DVD over the holidays, and I watched a few episodes over the course of the break. I came to realize that there are a number of highlights in the season, but that many of them hinge on a story element that has since that point been entirely wasted. Episodes kept pointing towards Barney coming to terms with his playboy identity in order to confront his feelings with Robin, and those episodes are painful for me: they’re a sign of the storyline that the show cut loose before I felt it should have been cut loose, and before it had been given time to develop into something that could have become a meaningful part of this universe.
If we view “Girls vs. Suits,” scripted by co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas as the show’s 100th episode, as a celebration of what they consider the show’s two most enduring elements, we find that the mythology surrounding the Mother and the audacity surrounding Barney Stinson are the show’s constants. But considering my frustration over Barney’s regression from his relationship with Robin, and considering how the story surrounding the Mother has been dragged out to the point where it has ceased being about Ted and become more about the show itself, this isn’t what my ideal 100th episode of the show would look like.
And yet, I found “Girls vs. Suits” managed to crack my cynical exterior with one of its storylines, although the other (although eventful and charming at points) simultaneously confirmed that it may have to be in desperate need of some reinvention to ensure it can “make it work” in the future.
September 28th, 2009
I love when episode titles aren’t what you’d expect. As a television critic, it means that I’m taking notes after I’ve looked to see what the title of the episode is (so you can more easily find this post), so I went into this one expecting the show to take advantage of their newfound pairing in order to provide some sitcom-style double date antics.
I should have known, of course, that How I Met Your Mother isn’t that kind of show. The “Double Date” at the center of the episode was a clever sort of “instant mythology,” where Ted relives a previous blind date all over again seven years later, which allows the show to do what it does best. We get healthy doses of both the show’s time-twisty structure as well as its heart within the storyline, while the other (also double-themed) story with Marshall and Barney helps to provide some levity while both work in tandem to create a whole new element of the HIMYM Lexicon.
On the whole, it’s a clever and well-executed episode that further cements the show’s strong sense of narrative, and one which provides a pretty darn good showcase for a somewhat maligned character.
“The Naked Man”
November 24th, 2008
[UPDATE: For those who want a better look at Lily’s list of 50 reasons to have sex, Mo Ryan at the Chicago Tribune has the enormous napkin list. I think my favourite is #39 because of its history between Marshall and Lily and the early Season Two period.]
When adding terms to the HIMYM Lexicon, it is usually Barney who takes the mantle, but “The Naked Man” takes a slightly different approach. For once, it places all of our characters on the same page: they are all students to Mitch The Naked Man’s teacher, and the result is that all of them test out his unorthodox method for their own purposes.
What could have been, as a result, a highly unorganized episode smartly lays low in regards to the show’s central dramas. With Barney and Robin’s love, and Ted’s recent breakup with Stella, payed homage to without dominating the episode, you have a chance for each character to play their comic beat while not becoming overloaded in drama. Yes, ultimately this episode feels quite inconsequential, but it was indulgent in a way HIMYM hasn’t been all season with the cloud of Stella or Major Life Changes hanging in the air.
And in many ways, this episode is the transition point: from this point forward, Ted’s in a new place in his life and perhaps we can find a new turn around the horizon…just as long as Mitch isn’t there when we turn the corner.