Monday, September 21, 2009

The 15 Most Legendary Episodes of How I Met Your Mother: Part I

In celebration of the season premiere that airs at 8:00 tonight on CBS, and as a response to Entertainment Weekly’s photo album of the 15 best episodes of How I Met Your Mother (their opinion), I’m making my own list! I’m going to name and explain my fifteen favorite episodes of HIMYM. Some I love for the outrageous humor, some for how they perfectly capture the life of a mid-late twentysomething, and some for Barney/Robin cuteness. Hmm…I think I might do this for Lost, too, when the final season premieres next year. And 15 happens to be one of The Numbers. Score!

Without further ado, here is part one of a three part series: the 15 most legendary episodes of How I Met Your Mother, organized by season.

Okay Awesome

“Because, italics, this night did not happen.”


I’ve already pretty thoroughly explained my love for “Okay Awesome” in this “Classic” Recap, but here’s the deal, if you aren’t motivated to read about 1,000 words on the subject (understandable). “Okay Awesome” is…well…awesome for its depiction of the club scene and those of us who don’t especially love the club scene. The loud music that forces all the characters’ dialogue to be subtitled, and the humor that comes from everybody not being able to hear each other, is genius. Ted and the Coat Check Girl talking about how if they go on a date, it will have to be to a place that nobody thinks is fun, is hilariously pretentious. Barney accidentally dancing with his cousin all night his pretty funny, too (and mildly disturbing). And I’m still wondering what the heck Marshall took in the bathroom that knocked out his tooth pain so quickly (clearly more than just a “sandwich”).

Slutty Pumpkin

“He wanted to be a we, and I wanted to be an I. Dudes are such chicks!”


The Halloween costumes in “Slutty Pumpkin” are all great, especially Marshall and Lily’s. I loved the Sonny and Cher costumes and the Captain Jack Sparrow and Parrot costumes. Ted dressing as a “Hanging Chad” every year, even though that’s so 2001, was also great. I do, however agree with Marshall that the fact nobody would get that joke anymore is a sign of the “sad state of our national attention span.” I especially enjoyed watching Ted and Robin (individually, not as a couple) in this episode. I really empathized with Robin in her inability to be “coupley” with her new boyfriend. I’m pretty set in my ways myself. I’d like to think I could modify that a bit for the right guy, but who knows. I think that’s pretty much how Robin felt by the end of the episode, too. I liked Ted in this episode because he was at his dopey romantic best. It made me laugh every time he got that goofy look on his face when telling one of his friends he was going to stay at the rooftop party to wait for the Slutty Pumpkin. The fact that “waiting for the Slutty Pumpkin” reminded me of Linus “waiting for the Great Pumpkin” in the Peanuts comic strip doesn’t hurt, either. I’ve been a fan of Peanuts since I was a little kid.

The Pineapple Incident

“So I think a lot. I happen to have a very powerful brain. It can’t be helped!”


“The Pineapple Incident” is perhaps one of the most outright laugh-out-loud funny episodes HIMYM has produced. Ted ends up drinking much more than usual at MacLaren’s in an effort to, as Barney put it, be less of a “thinker” and more of a “doer.” I like how the episode’s story is told on a sort-of fractured timeline. We see the whole gang at the bar, we see Ted wake up the next morning, then we see in separate flash-back sequences provided by different characters what actually happened to Ted the night before. We don’t, however, find out how a pineapple ended up on Ted’s night table. The episode is most notable for the crazy antics of “Drunk Ted.” He climbs on a table to sing karaoke to Robin over the phone (and promptly falls off the table). He gets not-so-accidentally set on fire by Barney (for repeatedly calling Robin). And every time his friends put him to bed, he keeps going back downstairs to the bar for more craziness.

Zip, Zip, Zip

“I’m birthday suiting up!”


“Zip, Zip, Zip” is notable because it effectively tells three stories in one half hour and includes the first prolonged interaction between Barney and Robin. This episode tells the stories of Robin being Barney’s substitute “bro” for an evening, Ted and Victoria planning to have sex for the first time, and Marshall and Lily…stuck in the bathroom. The Barney and Robin interaction is by far my favorite aspect of this episode. The fact that they enjoy so many of the same things shows how well suited they really are to each other. The look of surprise and admiration on Barney’s face when Robin walks into the cigar bar and Barney exclaims “You suited up!” is just priceless. It’s also interesting that, when he wants to, Barney can actually notice and care about what other people are going through. When Robin rejects his advances, he realizes that she has feelings for Ted and forces her to admit those feelings to herself.

Game Night

“Look, you guys have always been like the parents I still have and in fact moved away from.”


This episode is essentially Barney’s origin story. While having a game night at Ted, Marshall, and Lily’s apartment, Lily reveals that she met an ex-girlfriend of Barney’s named Shannon, and Shannon gave Lily a video tape to give to Barney. The video shows Barney as a hippie coffee shop musician begging Shannon to take him back. The gang obviously wants the full story behind this bizarre (and hilarious) video, but in order to get it, they each have to tell their own most embarrassing story. Ted’s story about the “re-return” when he went back to Robin’s apartment after she turned him down for a date and accidentally vomited on her custom Scherbatsky doormat was pretty funny, but Barney’s story was by far the best. Seeing Neil Patrick Harris play yet another really goofy character is always a lot of fun. It seems like Barney himself is always playing characters, just different characters at different points in his life. He always takes things to extremes. When he tells his “suited up” nemesis that he doesn’t high five, he only gives “high twos” and flashes a peace sign, I never fail to crack up laughing. I like that this episode shows a different side of Barney. Even though he won’t admit it, it’s clear that he is lonely. At the end of the episode, I’m left wondering who replaced Robin’s doormat- Ted or Barney? Both are definitely plausible.

So those are the first five episodes (all from Season 1) to make my list. Stay tuned every Monday night for the next two weeks for Parts II and III!

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