A review of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as my breath reeks of shredded carrots and deceit…
When “HIMYM” was in its prime, the show was defined as much by its clever structure as it was by its comedy. The show played with time and perspective beautifully(*), and used its various narrative tricks in service of funny stories that fit the characters.
(*) For all the comparisons to “Friends,” I’d argue that the closer analogue would be the UK version of “Coupling.”
“The Burning Beekeeper,” written by Bays and Thomas, certainly had an interesting structure, as we followed the disintegration of Lily and Marshall’s housewarming party not in chronological order, but by going from one room to the next. And in that respect, the pieces fit well, as we slowly found out why Ted was so eager to get into a fight with Garrison Cootes, why Lily stomped on the gouda, etc.
I just wish that the clever structure had been put to the service of better – and, more importantly, funnier – stories.
Other than maybe Barney’s willingness to be attacked by bees rather than spend another second with Rebecca Creskoff’s crazy cat lady, I’m not sure I laughed once at this episode. And other than Lily’s realization that this disastrous party is a metaphor for what parenthood will be like, I’m not sure any of it rang particularly true to these characters, as opposed to being various stories and jokes that could be applied to anyone on any sitcom.
We know, for instance, that Robin is more prone to violence than the other members of the gang, but the idea that she has a hair-trigger temper that makes her call old ladies “whores” for trying to get the last kugel(**)? Where on earth did that come from? And though it explained Ted’s argument with Cootes after the fact, the actual scene between Josh Radnor and Martin Short was so incredibly broad and loud and annoying that no explanation was going to be clever enough to justify it.
(**) Okay, so I also laughed at Cobie Smulders’ pronunciation of “kugel,” which wasn’t so much wrong as incredibly Canadian.
I like that “HIMYM” tries things like this, and I think they could have done a very good episode with this format. (Though the structure arguably prevented them from fully exploring any of the comic or emotional beats, because they had to keep moving to the next event.) This was, unfortunately, forgettable.
What did everybody else think?