Thursday, February 11, 2010

HIMYM 5.15: "Rabbit or Duck"

“Getting drunk and cleaning the apartment was a plan?”


First, a bit of a programming note. I’m recovering from a bout with a nasty 24-hour stomach bug, so blogging is going to be a little behind schedule this week. I look forward to discussing the latest developments on all my favorite shows, though, so trust me, you’ll eventually read about them here. And now, on to HIMYM. I was prepared to hate this episode half-way through, because there were just so many things that irked me, but some funny moments and past season call-backs toned down my rage slightly. There was quite a bit of silliness overall in this episode, which I generally like in HIMYM, but I don’t think it was grounded enough in the characters to work for me as much as it has worked in the past.

Neil Patrick Harris’ random, in-character-as-Barney appearance at the Super Bowl was explained right away in the teaser of the episode. Since his sign advertising his phone number appeared on national television, Barney’s cell phone has turned into a “magic phone.” It never stops ringing with calls from all sorts of women. Two things about this irritated me right from the get go. First of all, Robin’s only reaction to seeing the stunt is to call dibs on Barney’s wings because he’s obviously not at the gang’s little Super Bowl shindig. You would think she would have some deeper reaction to her ex being back to all his old stupid stunts. And speaking of the stupid stunts, that was my second problem with this plot. It’s yet another cheesy “Isn’t it so funny how Barney sleeps with tons of women” plot.

The only redeeming thing about that particular plot was that it gave Neil Patrick Harris a chance to once again show off his impressive physical comedy chops. Like in “Robin 101,” he had to go all out with the ADHD aspect of Barney’s personality. Each time he got a woman back to his apartment, his phone would ring again, and he just couldn’t not answer it. He also can’t resist abandoning the woman he’s with at the moment and going after the next one, whether or not she seems more or less appealing. Oh, and he’s hired Ranjit to be his personal chauffeur between his apartment and MacLaren’s. I do always appreciate a Ranjit appearance, although this wasn’t one of the better ones.

Another thing that annoyed me about this episode was the return of Don. Even though there were attempts in this episode to make Don a more likeable character, I still think Robin can do much better than him. He’s a loser. Don’s return also meant a continuation of the extremely self-absorbed Robin trend that I dislike so much. Don tells Robin that he’s having a Valentine’s Day gathering with a few friends, and he asks her if she’d like to join. Robin, however, first tells this story to the gang as if Don asked her out. What irritated me the most about this plot line was that Marshall and Ted keep hammering home the “oh, you’re totally going to marry Don” thing. It’s annoying, not charming.

One of the things I did like about the episode was the big argument the gang has over Rabbits v. Ducks. Ted is trying to make a point about how it’s a thin line between love and hate (ie that Robin may think she hates Don, but she probably really wants to jump him), so he shows her a picture that could be either a rabbit or a duck depending on how you look at it. Marshall is the only one of the group that prefers rabbits- everybody else is vehemently Team Duck. I have to go with Marshall on this one, though. We lawyers have good sense- rabbits are cute and cuddly.

The rabbit v. duck fight was pretty funny, mostly because of how over-the-top everybody was. I think I liked it for the same reason that I liked the scene in season 3’s “The Bracket” where the gang is heatedly arguing around Lily’s classroom chalkboard about which women Barney has wronged the most. Everybody yelling progressively more and more absurd arguments to prove their points will never not be funny.

After witnessing the craziness that can ensue from having too many people to pursue romantically, Ranjit shares with the group that he is glad he had an arranged marriage. Ted, being the destination-not-the-journey kind of guy that he is, wants Lily and Marshall to set him up with an arranged marriage. On the day that Ted is supposed to have his double date with Lily and Marshall and their “choice,” Ted is ecstatic. He is lame, and sadly, not out of character, singing a silly verse to the traditional wedding march as he gets ready for the date. Lily and Marshall, amusingly, almost forgot they agreed to set Ted up with someone. They get their hands on Barney’s phone and use one of the calls for a last second save.

For all that I ranted about the Robin/Don plot earlier in this post, there was one redeeming aspect to that fiasco. They brought back the Naked Man! Complete with the same music! I guess it’s pretty obvious now, but Don wasn’t really inviting Robin to a Valentine’s Day gathering for a small group of friends. He definitely tries to use the Naked Man on her. Even funnier is the fact that she brought Ted along, thinking it would be good to have an extra friend at the party. Ted immediately ducks out, saying he has “a dinner res,” and Robin, thankfully, doesn’t get fooled by the Naked Man twice. Don apologizes, puts his clothes back on, and says he got the idea from “some guy’s blog.” I wonder what he’d think if he knew that “some guy” was Barney, Robin’s ex-boyfriend?

The next day at work, Don tries to turn over a new leaf. By actually bothering to wear pants. For some reason, this is all it takes for Robin to see Don as a “duck” instead of a “rabbit.” I guess we won’t be getting rid of Don any time soon. In happier news, the “magic phone” ends up being destroyed (dunked in a pitcher of beer) after both Ted and Barney completely succumb to its powers. Ted actually ended up leaving his date with the woman Lily and Marshall found because he couldn’t stop thinking about the potential next call from the phone. The “magic phone” stuff was kind of amusing and silly, but I really hope that the HIMYM team soon gets back to telling more character based stories and really examining what it’s like to be just establishing your life.

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