Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HIMYM 5.04: "The Sexless Innkeeper"

"It was like we were on a date with a sad, chubby girl our mom made us call."


So, I may have driven 2.5 hours home from PA this afternoon, but fueled by a glass of peach iced tea, I think I’m ready to dish about Monday’s episode of How I Met Your Mother. Overall, I’m sad to say that I was disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, this episode had more funny moments than “Double Date” (all Double Date really had going for it was the Doppelganger concept). Plus there’s another website to add to the HIMYM lexicon (quick go check out But I would still rank this one pretty low when compared to the series overall. Once again, it appears that characters have been sacrificed for the joke…or a kind of lame romantic comedy parody. If that’s what the writers were indeed going for. It’s kind of hard to tell.

Suddenly Marshall and Lily have become so obsessed with having couple best friends that whenever they host a Couples Night, they try way too hard. They have appetizers and pre-prepared anecdotes and fall apart if the slightest thing goes wrong. Most couples that go to Dowisetrepla for a Couples Night don’t return for a second visit. I wonder when Marshall and Lily had this change of heart. In “Okay Awesome,” they hated that sort of stuff so much that they abandoned their own wine tasting party. I’m all for character growth- this show could have never gotten to five seasons if the characters had stayed stagnant (and if Britney Spears hadn’t made her fateful appearance in season 3, but I digress), but I would have liked to have seen more of that transition. This was a little sudden. I think there might have been one other episode dealing with Marshall and Lily and couples night type activities, but that’s all I can think of.

Anyway, in this episode, Barney and Robin are invited to a couples night. They happily accept, thinking it will be fun to spend the evening with two of their best friends. They have no idea what they are in for. They are bombarded by Marshall and his tray of Gouda when they enter. They are subjected to Marshall awkwardly yelling out anecdotes he thinks fit the situation. They awkwardly sit and watch while Marshall and Lily fight over the broken egg timer that is delaying a game of charades. Marshall and Lily happily declare it was the “best night ever.” Out in the hallway, however, Robin is miming putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger. And Barney is miming wiping her brains off his face. This was a great, hilarious moment that really showed the potential of Barney and Robin as a (somewhat unconventional) couple.

To make things even worse, Barney and Robin find that Marshall has sent them a photo montage complete with an original song (you can see a video of Marshall performing the song at the website I mentioned). Apparently Marshall’s love for charts and graphs has been replaced with a love for sending musical photo montages of his life to his friends. This was, I think, my favorite part of the episode. “Cat-sitting” followed by “Cat Funeral” had me laughing hysterically. Besides being funny, it was in character. Marshall did have an obsession with charts and graphs so serious it required the “Intervention” banner, so it makes sense he’d move on to photo montages as a new creative outlet.

Barney and Robin know that they don’t want to go to another couples night with Marshall and Lily, and Barney tries to dump them like he would a girl from his womanizing, one night stand days. He tells them that he and Robin have been tapped by the Navy for a scientific expedition. Marshall and Lily know him too well to believe that, and they cut all ties with Barney and Robin. They find a similarly ebullient Hawaiian couple to take Barney and Robin’s place.

This development makes Barney and Robin miserable. Ted finds them sitting on the couch in sweats (Barney wearing Armani sweat pants, naturally) eating ice cream. To a montage of “All by [Ourselves],” they see couples on double dates everywhere. This whole sequence just didn’t make sense for these characters. Barney and Robin do their own thing, and it never occurred to me that they would ever actually like something like a Marshall and Lily style couples night. If they were upset simply because they lost two of their best friends, that would make more sense.

Barney and Robin use a very Ted-like move to win back Marshall and Lily. They create a trail of egg timers from the door of Marshall and Lily’s apartment out to the street, where Barney and Robin are waiting for them. In the rain. They both say “ding” as Marshall and Lily appear at the front door. It’s mildly amusing, but like I said, it’s such a Ted move that it kind of grates.

Meanwhile, Ted actually had a pretty funny plot this week, even if it was only given minimal screen time. He’s been rocking the professor look (featuring a tweed jacket) at MacLaren’s, and he’s all excited that a woman seemed to like it and spent the night in his apartment. Sleeping on his couch. Because she didn’t live close by. Robin and Barney quickly dub Ted “The Sexless Innkeeper,” and Barney has a poem about the phenomenon ready. It’s set in the 1700’s, like the scenes about the writing of the “Bro Code” back in season three because…duh… “It’s a poem!” By the end of the episode, however, Ted has his own response, complete with 1700’s style poetry. A girl dug the tweed and stayed over at the apartment. And it wasn’t so sexless. Barney sees the woman standing in the doorway to Ted’s room. Then he hears Robin asking him if he’s ready to go to brunch with Marshall and Lily. He looks panicked for a second, then he screams “What have I done!”

If HIMYM is going to dabble in full episode parodies, the parody really needs to be made clear. My absolute least favorite episode of the series is season four’s “The Stinsons.” Hard to believe since it’s a Barney-centric episode, right? The story turned out to be not at all compelling, and it just wasn’t at all funny no matter how hard the very talented cast tried to work with the below-par material. I later read some speculation that it was meant to be a parody of a bad 80’s-90’s family sitcom. I wish somebody had told me sooner. The parody should have been more heightened if that was actually the intent. “The Sexless Innkeeper” came closer to being a believable romantic comedy parody because some of the scenes, such as Barney and Robin and their egg timers were so over-the-top. It still didn’t work for me, though. I’m hoping to find my “fictional friends” again when I turn on my TV next Monday at 8:00, because except for a few brief moments, I didn’t see them this week.

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