‘How I Met Your Mother’ – ‘Field Trip’: Pollstered!

Senior Television Writer
10.11.11 83 Comments


A quick review of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I click past the slide on Ewok anatomy…

There were a few amusing moments in “Field Trip,” particularly Barney and Ted turning the disastrous field trip into an impromptu focus group to settle arguments about Olmos, Ewoks(*) and more, and I like the idea of Marshall and Garrison Cootes teaming up to save the planet for the sake of Baby Eriksen, Future Ted’s unnamed children, and other future generations. (As we saw last year, it’s very hard for the show to step wrong when it’s telling emotional Marshall stories.) Overall, though, it was a fairly forgettable episode, with one story I want us to discuss a bit.

(*) Gotta quibble with Barney’s math on his Ewok theory. I was born in 1973, but several months after his dividing line between Ewok lovers and haters, and I couldn’t stand the furry little things even when “Return of the Jedi” first came out. (As do many of my friends who were born well after me.) To this day, I’m annoyed that Lucas didn’t stick to the original plan of having it be a planet full of Wookies.

Specifically, how does everyone feel about Kevin(**) and Robin making the leap from therapist and patient to boyfriend and girlfriend? I appreciate that the show acknowledged, repeatedly, that this is a horrible, fairly icky idea – not only were Ted and Barney (former boyfriends who each still carry something of a torch for Robin) grossed out by it, but so were the field trippers and the Germans – but at the same time, the show clearly wants us to see everything as okay by episode’s end. I know that “HIMYM” doesn’t aspire to the level of realism or drama of something like “In Treatment” (which spent a lot of time on the dangers of therapist-patient transference), but there are still some things that seem like a place even a broad sitcom shouldn’t go if it doesn’t want us to keep thinking and complaining about it. The idea that Robin getting to grill him on his innermost thoughts for a couple of hours to equalize things didn’t really fly, and I just don’t see the point to it. If they wanted Robin to get into a relationship with a character who knew far more about her emotional life than the average new boyfriend(***) would, there were other ways to accomplish that without building the whole thing on such a squirm-inducing foundation. Make him the lawyer trying to get her acquitted on the assault charge. Make him some random guy she’s stuck in an elevator with for a whole day. Pick any number of stock sitcom situations in which characters will open up to total strangers – just don’t start here. Because he’ll never not be Robin’s former therapist, and that’s just self-destructive for both Robin and for the show.

(**) Whom I’m trying very hard to not call Kumar every time. Just because his real name and his most famous role both start with K doesn’t mean the whole world has to keep casting him to play guys with K names (Kevin, Kutner, etc.). He was pretty great as a character named Gogol in “The Namesake,” after all.

(***) By the way, I really hope they bother to actually have Kevin/Kumar/Kutner/Kal/Gogol interact with the rest of the gang, and often, for as long as he’s around. One of the show’s most consistent failings with relationships involving people outside the group – with the notable exception of Victoria back in the day and, very briefly, Stella – is that we virtually never see the newbies involved with regular characters other than the ones they’re dating, and that makes it very hard to invest in them. Even Nora seems to show up at the very start or end of any bull session at the bar, and I have no idea who she is or why I should care about Barney dating her.

What did everybody else think? Are you willing to let the therapy thing slide? Are there other TV story arcs where the beginning was so problematic that it overwhelmed whatever good things came later? Are you enjoying Martin Short? And how do you feel about Ted’s new facial scruff?

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