‘How I Met Your Mother’ – ‘Change of Heart’: The Scooby gang

Senior Television Writer
03.01.11 89 Comments


A review of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I punch you into cardiac arrest…

There are times when a show I like commits to a guest arc or new character I just don’t like, and then I have to fundamentally write off any and all scenes related to that. I’m not sure if Nora’s going to be sticking around past last night’s episode, but if she is, I think that whole arc may be a write-off for me.

I recognize that part of this is just lingering frustration about how the Robin/Barney story was handled, and the idea that if Barney’s going to turn from Pinocchio into a real boy, it should be with her. But I also don’t think Nora has been a particularly compelling character apart from that. Like a lot of the show’s arc’ed love interests (Don, Stella), we hear more about her than we see her(*), and so I don’t know what it is specifically about her that’s finally inspired this change in Barney. So even as Neil Patrick Harris was doing a lot of terrific work in showing Barney struggle with his desire to change, I kept reacting to Barney’s feelings about Nora the way Michael Bluth used to feel about George Michael’s girlfriend Ann: “Her?”

(*) Also, some of you the last few weeks have suggested that Nora might somehow wind up being The Mother, since we know Ted meets her at the wedding, and since Ted had yet to actually share a scene with her. Not anymore. Cross her off the list just like Zoey, Stella, Victoria, etc.

I did, however, enjoy the rest of the group’s reactions to Barney and Nora. Lily and Barney are one of the show’s more underrated pairings – in many ways, I like Lily a lot more when she’s interacting with Barney than when she’s with Marshall, just as I think Marshall often is more fun when he’s with the other members of the gang than with his wife – and I always enjoy seeing her try to keep him in line. And the scene where Barney invoked all the dirt he has on the rest of the group was wonderful, from the way Marshall folded after the word “calzone” was uttered(**) to Ted blithely copping to his ballet and N Sync pasts, to Marshall lawyering for Lily.

(**) On the other hand, maybe it says something bad about me as a person, but I didn’t think the actual calzone secret was so terrible as to justify his earlier fear.

The “HIMYM” creators both used to write for David Letterman, and the subplot about Robin’s dog-like new boyfriend Scooby(***) was one of those jokes that reminded me very much of a Letterman bit: a bit funny at first, then something that started to feel tired the more the show kept doing it, then (around the time Scooby pulled out the bag of “sandwiches”) became even funnier than it was the first time. It did, however, remind me of that season two storyline when Ted made Robin get rid of all the dogs that her ex-boyfriends had given her, and I would say that man-as-dog story was on a whole better than this one, and not just because it came first.

(***) Hat tip to Alyson Hannigan’s “Buffy” past, or is Scooby just such an inherently funny name that they’d have done it even if she wasn’t on this show?

What did everybody else think?

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