Tag Archives: Robin Cherbotsky

Season Premiere: How I Met Your Mother – “Definitions”

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“Definitions”

September 21st, 2009

How I Met Your Mother (How-Eye-Meh-Ett-Yo-Err-Mah-thur) Noun.

1. CBS Comedy Series.

2. Probably the most “anticipated” comedy return of the fall season for this particular critic.

While The Office might be more consistent, and 30 Rock might be more uproarious, I think that I find myself most honestly excited about How I Met Your Mother, a show that just a few years ago I didn’t even watch on a regular basis. I think it’s because while The Office thrives on awkward comedy, and 30 Rock plays the absurdist angle, HIMYM tends to operate most often by either charming us as viewers (something The Office can do but which 30 Rock rarely attempts) or by introducing some really interesting intermingling between serialization and concept episodes of unquestionable quality.

So heading into its fifth season, more successful than one could have imagined two years ago, How I Met Your Mother finds itself closer than ever (we presume) to the identity of the Mother, and finally pulling the trigger on a long-gestating relationship (Barney and Robin). This means that, quite similar to the Office’s premiere, “Definitions” is more about defining (Yeah, I went there) how the show is going to handle Ted’s new job and Barney and Robin’s relationship rather than surprising us with anything even remotely considering a twist.

But, done in typical HIMYM style with plenty of flair and a whole lot of laughs, one can’t really complain about the execution, although the evasion of definition and expectation is certainly a theme.

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How I Met Your Mother – “The Front Porch”

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“The Front Porch”

March 16th, 2009

In bringing in Karen, Ted’s ex-girlfriend from his high school days, How I Met Your Mother has returned to the temporality that often sets it apart from other sitcoms. The show’s basic premise is one of its defining legacies, as the very idea of this being one large story told by Future Ted to his own children has given the past (and memory, and revisionist history) a very important meaning. Even further, episodes on occasion create alternate futures, showing that Ted and the rest of the characters are just as concerned with their own prospective futures as we are about the future we know is inevitable.

“The Front Porch” is ultimately a mediation more on this last idea than the former, the past serving as evidence for the concern for the future. The result is an episode that is less about Karen and more about what Karen could represent, and a more subtle than expected refocusing on the answers to the episode’s central question: how does Ted, exactly, meet this mother? Flanked by some simple but effective little pieces of comedy, the episode avoids sending Ted into a place too annoying, and Lily to a place too mean, in its navigation of what is quite an important issue in the show’s future, and one that could well be heading to a conclusion before the season is over.

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How I Met Your Mother – “The Stinsons”

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“The Stinsons”

March 2nd, 2009

Listen to any fan of How I Met Your Mother talk about why they think other people should watch the show and, chances are, they are likely going to eventually say something along the lines of “this is not a traditional sitcom.” This is something that causes some people some doubts: the show has a multi-camera format and utilizes a laugh track, looking and sounding like any traditional sitcom they’ve ever seen.

Astute fans, though, will point out the show often evolves beyond its sitcom qualities through the use of things like the manipulation of time, copious amounts of flashbacks, and even the general conceit of this all being one big memory told by Future Ted. The show has a lot of tricks up its sleeve that, often, leave it looking nothing like a sitcom at all. There are other times, though, where these elements aren’t as present, and where anyone spotchecking the series for the first time might leave thinking that this is a funny, but not particularly original, sitcom.

“The Stinsons” is an episode that, if I had to put it into one of these categories based on its basic concept, would be in the latter classification. This is the very definition of a situational comedy: after Barney leaves the bar suspiciously, the rest of the gang follow him to the suburbs where they discover a secret about his life that could forever change the course of their lives…or, more accurately, the course of the following twenty minutes.

But what this extremely odd, but extremely entertaining, half hour does is prove that HIMYM isn’t just capable of fundamentally altering the sitcom DNA to make itself standout: in the development of Barney Stinson as a character, and through Bays/Thomas’ great grasp of the sitcom conventions, they are subversive just in delivering this scenario in the most dysfunctional but hilarious fashion. That the episode actually ends up boiling things down, even in its lunacy, to an important point of character realization is testament to the show’s strength: being awesome.

And that’s the Stinson family motto, after all.

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How I Met Your Mother – “The Possimpible”

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“The Possimpible”

February 2nd, 2009

I feel at this point that Bays and Thomas have conditioned us long term viewers on how to watch an episode of HIMYM: the second Barney announces that he has an online video resume, I’m in Firefox typing in the address and making a note that the site is, of course, real. If the show had a resume, it would include many of these types of moments, the little throwaway lines built into entertaining side projects or the quirky facts we learn show up on each person’s resumes emerging as quick flashbacks.

“The Possimpible” doesn’t try to be overly sentimental, or even overly ambitious: it just looks back on its past, makes a reel of the various ways the show has been charming in the past (most related to Barney) and then crafting an episode around them. It’s something that doesn’t always work for the show, sometimes feeling more like a pastiche of its better episodes, but this one really worked for me. Between the invented words, the humorous websites (Barney’s Video Resume and Ted’s Mysterious Dr. X Website), the continued tension between Barney and Robin and the clever and humorous way of working Alyson Hannigan’s pregnancy into the episode, this one earned a spot on the show’s resume.

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