“No Questions Asked” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 5.43.00 PMDoes anyone else feel like those date and time title cards at the start of How I Met Your Mother are doing more harm than good by ticking by far too slowly? We can hardly believe that it’s still only 11pm. On the Friday. This is the weekend that won’t end.

We’re still torn on this new format. We’re not sure if it’s the best thing the writers have ever done, or the worst. Yes, it gives particular aspects of the story time to breathe – Robin and Barney’s incompatibility and their increasing bouts of cold feet, Ted’s quietly mounting desperation, Marshall’s guilt over the judgeship – but the one thing we were hoping it would allow us more time with isn’t being utilized at all. Is anyone else wondering where the Mother is in all of this? We’re seven episodes in and she’s only made two appearances. Weren’t we supposed to be spending this season learning more about her? Seeing her meet Ted’s friends? Finding out just why they’re perfect together? This is beginning to feel like the writers are just trying to distract us so that they don’t have to go to the trouble of figuring out what Ted’s perfect woman is actually like. We suppose that’s one way to avoid disappointing anyone…

And yet this episode was not the worst of them. Reserving much of the running time for genuinely Continue reading

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“The Poker Game” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 10.16.30 PMNot a bad effort from this week’s How I Met Your Mother. The laugh track continues to grate – would it kill them to kill it? – but the episode itself didn’t. It was a decent mix of funny and serious. Relationship issues were balanced well with the side story of the Ted-Lily-Marshall ‘wedding present’-‘thank you card’ debacle. Most notably, the new format was served well this week, with the action centered on a single card game. This allowed the peripheral stories room to branch out, so it felt simultaneously tight and sprawling. And that’s kind of the best of HIMYM – a solid story that has some movement and flow.

If we had one issue with it (and, yes, we do always seem to find one, don’t we), it’s that everything always gets that little bit too manic, and the writers always stop just on the wrong side of funny. The joke always goes that bit too far, the story gets that bit too crazy, the premise that little bit unbelievable. If there’s one thing HIMYM needs to learn, it’s restraint. They need to learn when to quit while they’re ahead. And that’s right before Barney’s mom and Robin become sworn enemies.

Though, in saying that, it’s Continue reading

“The Broken Code” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 10.29.03 AMLooks like HIMYM is settling back to its standard level of quality. Unfortunately, that’s not very high. There were some nice moments – Marshall playing judge and Ted and Barney in the rain, recreating the carousel, for example, or the bro code’s bizarre prevalence – but, by and large, it was a disappointment. The episode was clearly meant to be a display of the friends’ friendships and how they can outlast anything. Mostly it just felt like one big missed opportunity.

Central issues aside, wouldn’t it have been much better, in the midst of an episode about Robin’s inability to make friends with women, to have her making friends, not with crying girl, but with The Mother? Wouldn’t that have been a perfect opportunity to show how perfect The Mother is, not just for Ted, but for the group? It could have been a fleeting acquaintance, like Lily on the train, but even a hint at a beautiful friendship to come could have done wonders. We know the point of crying girl was to cement Lily and Robin’s friendship, but they could have done that some other way. This felt cheap, and uninspired.

The other friendship arc followed on from last week’s ‘cliffhanger’. Barney saw Ted and Robin at the carousel. HIMYM dealt with that strand fairly well (though, of course, not without largely annoying attempts at humor – Billy Zapka, Tim Gunn). Barney torturing Ted with wedding duties and, ultimately Continue reading

“Last Time in New York” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.33.01 PMStraight from an episode that was easily redeemable to one that couldn’t have been saved by all of the Avengers (and the Justice League, while we’re at it) combined.

There was so much wrong with this episode – it was dull, it was largely unfunny, it was predictable (to a point) and it was repetitive. The running ‘joke’ about old people being like zombies who are drawn to anyone who says Mandy Patinkin made us smirk the first time but, as the episode progressed, became somewhat of a thorn in our side.

The main problem with having an entire season devoted to one weekend is, of course, that you have to write 12 hours of funny material, all largely set in one location and with a very limited pool to draw from. Yeah, weddings can be hilarious. But are they twelve hours of hilarious? That seems unlikely. If we’re honest, we didn’t think the cracks would appear this early. We’re hoping it’s just an early slip and not an indication of the way the rest of the season will unfold.

There were a few nice moments, mostly relating to Continue reading

“Coming Back” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 9.32.14 PMTurns out we’re still not on top of our TV-watching schedule just yet. We missed another episode last week – the second episode of HIMYM’s ninth season, “Coming Back”.

To a certain extent, this duplicated the success of the season premiere. There were no present-day glimpses of The Mother, but there were amusing licks that gave us something else to enjoy. Previous seasons, in their rush to tell all of a story (or most of it, at least) within a 23-minute window, never gave you the opportunity to grow to like a bit character (like our favorite thing about “Coming Back”, desk clerk Curtis) or to really appreciate the running jokes (“Thank you, Linus.”), though even those grate eventually. If “Thank you, Linus” lasts through the season we’ll want to punch someone. If it’s dealt with by next week (episode 4 by now), then we’ll be happy.

But, all in all, this episode dragged a little. Where the new format as used in “The Locket” gave us space to get to know The Mother, “Coming Back” just gave us space to wish we had less space. We were a little bored, and the continuing animosity between Daphne (Sherri Shepherd, 30Rock) and Marshall began to irritate early on.

But, as is often the case with HIMYM Continue reading

“The Locket” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 1.27.43 PMWe were surprised by this first episode in the new season of How I Met Your Mother. We’ve become accustomed over the last few seasons of the CBS hit to a series of unfunny episodes, with little clever going on (and we did get a portion of that this week, with Marshall’s strand). Yet this felt different and fresh. It felt like a new incarnation of the show. One we can get behind.

We’ve learned in recent weeks that this season will have a whole new approach. It will take place in its entirety over Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend. Each of the friends will meet the Mother and fall for her before Ted does. Some reviewers are detractors of this formula. We’re not. We think it’s perfect for what needs to be done. This will give the entire arc space. This time, Ted’s romance is actually important. To allow it to unfold over an episode or two would be cheating those long-term viewers who have doggedly hung on for this exact relationship. We need to know everything about how they meet. We need to believe in them. And to present that in classic sitcom fashion would either have taken too long or would never have done it justice.

There were classic How I Met Your Mother moments peppered throughout – a last-minute freak-out from Robin and Barney as they realize they may be related, that Marshall arc, Ted’s road-trip binder and Continue reading

“Something New” – How I Met Your Mother

how-i-met-your-mother-cristin-miliotiThis was probably one of the better episodes of this ‘more miss than hit’ season, and we’re glad they saved that magic for the finale. For once, we felt like we were finishing an episode with a positive attitude to the show, and that’s the exact feeling we want to carry forward through the summer hiatus and into the start of HIMYM’s ninth and final season.

Overall, it was just your standard episode. There were a few jokes here and there, many of which have recurred throughout the series – Marshall’s mother’s inability to let her kids go, Barney and Robin’s similarities – and some romance and plot twists, but none of that is what made the episode so enjoyable for us. That honor rests with Ted and Lily. We love when these two get scenes alone. They’re always incredibly honest and soul-bearing, and make us see the show more as what it is trying to be – a comedy with occasionally serious interludes about growing up and the importance of friendships. The connection between Ted and Lily, that innate trust, makes the rest of the nonsense bearable.

Not that there was much nonsense this week. The most HIMYM-esque scenes were Barney and Robin’s attempts to sabotage the worst couple of all time, but these were offset by the Ted and Lily stuff, as well as by (the vague cliffhanger of) Marshall being offered a judgeship and accepting it without telling Lily. That should make things interesting when the series comes back in the Fall. Will we see Continue reading

“Something Old” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-05-07 at 11.31.56 PMAh! Mention of the move to Rome! Not just a mention – packing. Actual packing. We were wondering if they’d forgotten. So we guess they’re actually going? This is How I Met Your Mother, so we can’t be sure just yet.

The focus of the (not wholly terrible) episode was on Robin and Ted, really, even though each of the other characters played a part. Robin’s dad and Barney provided the comedy, with the pair traveling along a rollercoaster of father-son bonding. Lily and Marshall’s imminent departure was merely a foil for Ted and a way for him to come to the necessary realization by episode’s end.

As has so often been the case recently, the episode was relatively lighthearted throughout, (but not hugely funny – another thing that features frequently is the drop in the quality of the comedy writing) and closed with an emotional and serious moment. This week, that moment was Robin finally admitting her fears about marrying Barney. We had all seen this crisis of confidence coming almost since the proposal, but it took a missing locket and Ted showing up when Barney didn’t to bring it all to the surface for Robin.

We now enter the season finale with a certain uncertainty about how things will turn out. Despite’s Ted’s assurances Continue reading

“The Bro Mitzvah” – How I Met Your Mother

The Bro MitzvahThis week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother was intensely, immensely predictable. I don’t think there was one ‘twist’ that we didn’t see coming a mile off. It suffered from many of the symptoms that have plagued HIMYM in recent seasons – clinging too close to one single aspect of characters’ personalities (painting Lily as a sexually adventurous housewife, Barney as a petulant child, Ted as a bumbling fool), tragically overused ‘catchphrases’, that predictability… It certainly wasn’t the best of HIMYM. Not even close. And yet we didn’t care. Somehow it still entertained. With the exception of Lily, we actually enjoyed each of the characters and, sadistically, loved seeing Barney try to be a better man and learning that he does have a heart, and it can be broken. There were a few funny moments, too.

You ask how we could possibly have liked an episode that seemingly had so little to offer us? We’re not surprised. We certainly don’t seem overly enthused about it. Perhaps years of subpar episodes have lowered the bar for watchability. For us to enjoy an episode of HIMYM, maybe it just has to make us laugh once or twice and not offend us. All it has to do, now, is offer just enough to keep us going through each episode, and enough to keep us interested in watching the next one. And this did that. Not that we would give up on the show, anyway. Not now that we’re so close to finding out who the Mother is. It’s likely that the big reveal will be held off until the Season 9 premiere. A reason to keep watching, even after ‘only okay’ episodes like this. We just have to know. Just one more year to get through. The end is in sight. – K

Quoteworthy: “Shut it, Ralph Macchio. Why don’t you go have a party with Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter and War Horse and all the other movie villains and stop ruining mine.” – Barney

PS Ralph Macchio and (the real Karate Kid) William Zabka guest.

“Romeward Bound” – How I Met Your Mother

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 12.27.54 AM

How to describe this episode of How I Met Your Mother… a difficult task. Ehm… we hated it less than we’ve hated other episodes this season? We almost liked it? We liked bits of it? All of the above? We’ll go with one of our favorite descriptors: it was a mixed bag.

Oddly, the main story strand (and that with the most far-reaching consequences) – The Captain asking Lily to move to Rome with him for a year – was buried under the secondary plotline. We’ll get that plotline out of the way first. It revolved around Robin and Barney’s wedding planner, Liddy (Hart of Dixie star Mircea Monroe), and her slammin’ bod. This was a lot of fluff to get through for a relatively small plot-development and potential wrench in the works. As Barney uses Robin’s interest in Liddy’s body (and his own ability to ask her to take her coat off without sounding like a creep) to justify a future of perving on women he’s not married to, Ted warns him to be careful with Robin because she’s not as ‘cool’ as he thinks. Barney brushes it off, but we think it’s going to be a recurring issue before the wedding (in THREE WEEKS!).

With the more important storyline of the two, we’re left with a cliffhanger of sorts. Lily and Marshall have decided to risk it all and move to Rome (Marshall’s speech to convince Lily was the sweetest damned thing we’ve seen [read] all season), but will The Captain still take her? And will they bite the bullet and actually go? We know there’s only one season left, but we can’t imagine even a single season without the couple. We know we’ve been a little anti-them over the past year, but we still don’t want to see them gone. So will they be off the show, or will we see their life in Rome unfold through Skype chats and visits? We’re actually curious to find out. – K

Quoteworthy: “Robin, thanks to you I can now walk up to any girl and say whatever creepy, disgusting thing I want and totally get away with it.” – famous last words, Barney