Tuesday, November 27, 2012

HIMYM 8.07: "The Stamp Tramp"

“Wow, you’re like the LeBron James of strip clubs. Actually, you’re probably tied with LeBron for that title.”

I think “The Stamp Tramp” was the first episode of this season of HIMYM where I actually really laughed for a significant portion of the episode. Sure everything was still more exaggerated and cartoon-y than it was in the old days when I was mainlining seasons 1-3 to stay sane during bar study, but at least there was some actual humor and some heart behind that humor as well. There was some great Barney and Robin stuff in the vein of season one’s “Zip Zip Zip,” which was enough fun that I was able to overlook the needle going a little too far over to Cartoon Barney as opposed to Human Barney. And I trust that the little slip up between them at the end will be rectified shortly. And there was also an attempt to break out that old HIMYM stalwart: the naming of a social phenomenon. This time, it’s the “stamp tramp,” aka the person who gives their stamp of approval to everything so you never take their opinion seriously. Oh, and did I mention there was an appearance from Joe Manganiello, who decided to slum it for a few episodes back with the HIMYM crew after skyrocketing to success in “True Blood” and “Magic Mike,” reprising his role as Marshall’s law school buddy Brad, last seen in season 4 being clobbered by Barney at a Rangers game for daring to take Robin out on a date. And holy crap did I just make a sentence go on for that many lines? On with the recap!

Like I said, the story mostly revolves around Marshall giving his “stamp” to things he has no business stamping. He encounters his old law school buddy, Brad (the aforementioned Joe Manganiello) on the street outside his office. Brad looks very disheveled and seems to have fallen on hard times. It’s so bad that he’s lined up a job as a costumed barker for a nearby hot dog stand. Marshall feels sorry for Brad and says he’ll talk to his boss about interviewing Brad for a position that’s open at Marshall’s environmental law firm. When Marshall tells the rest of the gang about this, they all warn Marshall off of recommending Brad. Robin calls him a “stamp tramp.” Marshall loves everything, so his stamp of approval means diddly. Lilly’s approval apparently carries the most weight with the gang. Robin has taken Lily’s advice on everything from beer to lingerie stores. Ted, however, is a piggyback stamper. He’ll latch on to something someone else has discovered and start recommending it like he discovered it in the first place. He spends the rest of the episode watching his college video diary, trying to find a time when he was the first to “stamp” something. It turns out he gave Lily his stamp of approval to Marshall, which Lily thinks is really sweet, until she hears College!Ted say on the video that Marshall can still sleep around with a few more chicks first before settling down with Lily.

Barney’s got a problem that’s a bit outside the theme of the rest of the episode. Quinn’s back to dancing at the Lusty Leopard, which has been making it difficult for Barney to have fun there, so he’s in the market for a new strip club. Barney has spent a ridiculous amount of money at the Lusty Leopard, and a bunch of other NYC strip clubs noticed this, so they’re all courting him to be his next regular club. Barney’s a bit overwhelmed with all the attention and low-level swag. Robin suggests Barney up his game by attending some Long Island and New Jersey clubs. The NYC clubs will get nervous and start giving Barney Rolexes. Barney thinks this sounds smart, and he asks Robin to be his strip club agent. Robin takes to this job with gusto, and the swag is rolling in. It all falls apart, though, when Robin wants Barney to sign with the Golden Oldies because they gave her lots of swag. Barney ends up choosing a different club in a scene that is supposed to mock the LeBron James “Decision” TV special. Robin and Barney happily leave MacLaren’s, pleasantly surprised how much fun they had together. Barney moves in for the kiss, and Robin reciprocates until she suddenly pulls away, saying she “can’t do this” again. Poor Barney is…again…devastated. Can they just get on with Barney and Robin back together and happy already?

Anyway, Marshall goes against his friends’ advice and convinces his boss to give Brad an interview. Unsurprisingly, it’s a complete disaster. Brad still appears disheveled, and he doesn’t give good answers to any questions. And he talks about his psychic a lot and farts. Needless to say, Marshall is humiliated, and his boss completely loses confidence in him. He’s cut out of the big case he’s been working on, too. Lily, though, has the answer for how to get Marshall back in his boss’ good graces. Marshall has to start making recommendations about tiny, inconsequential things, and eventually he will regain trust. Marshall takes Lily’s advice, and it works, but then his career takes a huge nose dive again. It turns out Brad is actually his opposing counsel on the big pharmaceutical case he’s been working on all this time. Brad has worked for the pharmaceutical company for two years, and everything he’s done in this episode has been a plot to be able to look at Marshall’s firm’s case file. Marshall’s boss is apoplectic, and he says that if Marshall loses the case, he’s fired. Overall, this plot had its funny moments, and it was fun to see Joe Manganiello back on the show where I first learned of him. It was still a bit cartoon-like to really be up in the pantheon of HIMYM, though. I’d like for the show to return to its roots, where the humor came more from real emotion and only slightly exaggerated experiences.

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