How I Met Your Mother – “The Best Man” & “The Naked Truth”

How I Met Your Mother – “The Best Man

How I Met Your Mother is a show I have almost entirely caught up with in syndication. I didn’t really watch new episodes on CBS until this past year. Maybe because I’ve been exposed to it all in one year, I haven’t tired of it the way some others have. I like it. It’s funny. It plays with structure and cutaway jokes but not in a Family Guy manatee joke. Plus it’s got heart. You got to give it credit for that. Obviously it has been stringing us along for six seasons about a mystery that’s no closer to being solved now than it was in the first season. Season six ended with a flash forward to a wedding that turned out to be Barney’s. They’ve flat out said that the actual wedding won’t happen to the season finale. We don’t even know who the bride is (with Robin and cute Brit Nora being hinted as the possibilities… smart money is on Robin).

In fact, the wedding is used as an excuse to flash back to ANOTHER wedding. This time the groom is one of Ted’s high school friends, Punchy. Apparently Ted has become the go-to guy for wedding toasts due to his often amusing emotional breakdowns while giving them. Apparently this has led to viral popularity in Finland. We are also teased that Marshall will ruin the wedding and the show keep misdirecting the audience as to how that will happen. Speaking of Marshall, I am so glad the secret pregnancy storyline only lasted one episode. There’s no real reason for it but when contained to a single episode they got some good laughs out of it, the best being Marshall getting totally shitfaced to cover for Lily’s aversion to alcohol. Also funny: the bartender instantly knowing Lily was pregnant when she ordered a non-alcoholic beer.

The emotional storyline comes from Barney and the possible future Mrs. Stinson, Robin. So Barney Stinson, longtime man-about-town, is ready to get serious with a woman. This is something he has not done since Robin. Despite their breakup and the fact that they were deeply unhappy together, Robin wants Barney back. This desire is solidified with a dance to “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite. The emotional scene comes when Barney finally gets Nora on the phone but doesn’t know what to say to her. Robin plays Cyrano de Bergerac and tells him what to say. It just so happens to be exactly what she wants to say to Barney. It’s not the most original scene in television history, but it works.

The Naked Truth

The second episode of the night picks up with Marshall being hung over from his drunken shenanigans in the previous episode. Given that the wedding was in Ohio and his hangover is in New York City, that must have been one hell of a bender beyond the four shots we saw him take. In preparation for the increased responsibility of impending fatherhood, he swears off drunkenness.  He is also interviewing for a job at a prestigious environmental law firm run by Martin Short. Short appears via very bad green screen, calling from a swamp. Many puns ensue: all very cheesy, but mostly amusing.  His background check is jeopardized by a viral video of a naked drunken Marshall calling himself Beercules. I find it funny how half the cast of the show are viral video stars and it has never come up before. It’s a stupid plot but humor is wrung from it, largely due to guest star Jimmi Simpson (from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as an excessively drunken college friend later revealed to be a father of four and a surgeon.

Barney spends the episode being honest with a woman about his past of excessive dishonesty. Nora is somewhat put off by the many reprehensible things Barney has done in the pursuit of pussy (he mentions the “Soul Man.” The thought of Barney in blackface is hilarious to me but I can’t imagine that would go over very well with network types). Barney decides a grand romantic gesture is needed and for some reason the best he can come up with is not leaving a 24-hour diner until he gets another date with Nora. I don’t understand why in the hell that would ever work, but it does lead to the joke about Barney annoying the staff by not ordering anything. Ted meanwhile is trying to decide between two women whose numbers he got while waiting at a newsstand for people to notice that he is on the cover of New York magazine. The song “Victoria” by the Kinks plays several times. Being a Kinks fan I noticed this and thought to myself “wasn’t the main love interest of the first season named Victoria?” A couple scenes later I was feeling very clever as who should show up but Victoria?

How I Met Your Mother is just kind of spinning its wheels at this point. Bob Saget’s omnipresent narration informs his kids that the story isn’t even close to being over. Actually, the show’s producers have pretty much said that Ted will meet the kids’ mother at Barney’s wedding in the season finale and spend season eight wooing and winning her. Then the show will be over. Other shows, when they express a definite timeline to wind things down start working on resolutions but a sitcom has the added burden of having to be funny, which involves getting the characters into new zany situations. We don’t really learn much of anything in the overall narrative in this episode that we didn’t already know at the end of the last season. Here’s hoping that the storytelling will tighten up a bit as the season moves on.

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