Tuesday, February 2, 2010

HIMYM 5.14: "The Perfect Week"

“I had lunch at a Staten Island Chili’s and banged a drunk hairdresser. Are you happy, Truthy McGee?”


Although it had some good laughs, I found “The Perfect Week” overall to be a pretty frustrating episode of HIMYM. The complete character regression of Barney makes me sad, and almost angry (it would be silly to be completely angry over a TV show, and a sitcom at that). I don’t love the turn the writers have taken with Robin, either. And it’s not just because Barney and Robin aren’t together anymore. It’s because both have turned into rather hollow joke vehicles, and considering they used to be entertaining, compelling, well-developed characters, that’s just a shame. I honestly wish I liked this episode more, considering it was fairly Barney-centric and was jam packed full of baseball references (even if it did reference the Yankees too much for my taste…bitter Phillies fan here). If it wasn’t Lost premiere week, which means Lost has been taking up much of my non-blog related TV watching time, I would totally break out a few of my favorite HIMYM episodes to remind myself why I loved this show so much, because I’m really starting to forget.

One somewhat interesting thing about this episode was its rather unique framing device. Throughout the episode, Barney was imagining a conversation between himself and sportscaster Jim Nantz. Apparently this is something Barney does whenever he’s nervous, and he most definitely had reason to be nervous. A big merger fell through at work, and Barney is in danger of being fired from GNB. While he’s waiting to be told his boss’ decision about whether or not he gets to keep his job, he “talks to Jim Nantz” about his sexual exploits from the past week. It turns out Barney was on track to have a “Perfect Week” where he slept with a different woman each night.

I really feel like concepts such as the “Perfect Week” and “The Playbook” do a major disservice to the character of Barney. Sure, he’s a kind of disgusting womanizer, but over the past few years, we’ve been shown a different side of him on many occasions. He didn’t have the greatest childhood, he was devastated when his college sweetheart dumped him, the list goes on. We got to see more of his vulnerability through his pursuit of and eventual relationship with Robin. After Robin and Barney broke up, everything about Barney other than the often funny womanizer has been erased. Sure, in this episode there’s the extra layer that he’s trying to keep his mind off of his job troubles, but the episode doesn’t really spend much time exploring that.

Instead, the episode seems to focus more on how Barney’s exploits help his friends keep their minds off of their own troubles, which are really incredibly trivial compared to what Barney is probably going through. In a plot that I found more offensive than actually funny (yeah, I’m super politically correct…deal with it), Ted doesn’t react well to a student with an unusual (and unfortunate) name. He’s convinced that his new class added “Cook Pu” to the sign-in sheet to mess with him, and by the time he figures out that she’s real, she’s horribly upset and drops the class. Instead of thinking about how terrible Cook must feel, Ted just wallows in “I just had my first student drop my class” self-pity. Marshall and Lily are upset that a couple they had a double date with it freaked out over the fact that Marshall and Lily use the same tooth brush. Robin is upset that a nerd she was going to dump never called her after their first date.

Out of the two plots that I really haven’t addressed yet, I found the Marshall and Lily plot to be occasionally mildly amusing and the Robin plot to be downright rage-inducing. I liked how it turned out that four of the five main HIMYM characters had all shared the same toothbrush at one point. Since this is a television show and not real life, it was good, silly fun. What I didn’t like about Robin’s plot was that it continued the extreme self-centeredness kick she’s been on for the past few episodes in a row. What happened to the embarrassed about her past, kind of quirky Robin we’ve gotten to know over the past few years? The character has been very one-note lately, always whining about certain people not noticing her or paying enough attention to her. It is not entertaining to watch at all.

The only thing that made yet another “isn’t Barney so funny because he sleeps with tons of women” plot at all palatable was that some of the baseball shout-outs the writers threw in were actually kind of funny. The one that made me laugh was when Ted gives Barney advice on which MacLaren’s woman to pursue like a manager or pitching coach would for a pitcher in a baseball game. He gave each of the women nicknames that corresponded to pitches like “High and Outside” and “The Slider.” Each name corresponded to something literal about the woman. “High and Outside” was actually outside the bar and high as a kite, and “The Slider” was eating a slider. It was also funny when Lily tried to explain to Robin why women were so drawn to players for the New York Yankees by asking Robin what her reaction would be if a Vancouver Canuck walked into the bar.

The culmination of the episode was a group effort to help Barney complete his Perfect Week. New York Yankee Nick Swisher walks into MacLaren’s, and Barney is in danger of losing the woman he’s chatting up to the inexplicable Yanke magnetism. One of my good friends is an employee of the Yankees, and they have been good to him, so I’ll refrain from disparaging the organization here, even though the Phillies fan in me desperately wants to. It was cool to see the gang all work together, even if I kind of hated what they were working together to accomplish. Oh, and Barney didn’t get fired from GNB. I think it might have been more interesting if he had been. Every character but Barney has faced employment troubles throughout the series, and Barney is usually the one to come to the rescue. I’d be interested to see how Barney would deal with such a problem happening to himself instead of one of his friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment