‘How I Met Your Mother’ – ‘Disaster Averted’: Slap schtick

Senior Television Writer
11.07.11 100 Comments

A review of tonight’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I get up and say I’m going to star in a YouTube video…

Like most of you, I have a list of things that, for whatever reason, I find never not funny. Just within the context of “HIMYM,” Angry Marshall is pretty much guaranteed to make me laugh, for instance. And “Disaster Averted” featured two other items from the list, one specific to this show, and one not:

1)Marshall slapping Barney as hard as he possibly can;


To Stephen Colbert, bears are the greatest menace to ever face humanity. To me, they are always funny. I’m sorry, but they just are, which means I was a sucker for every single one of Marshall’s hypothetical bear attacks. Even as my brain was telling me, “Come on, this is so, so stupid,” the rest of my head was too busy laughing. So whatever else “Disaster Averted” had to offer, it gave me several bear attacks and two vicious slaps. (And two slaps that felt more earned than at least one of the Slapsgiving slaps.)

When Lily first broached the idea of adding three slaps to the total, I at first took it as a metaphor for where “HIMYM” is at overall: they know we’re itching for a payoff (whether to The Mother’s identity, to whatever’s going to happen with Robin and Barney, Ted in the green dress, etc.), but because the show has at least another season to run after this (and possibly more, given where the ratings are right now), they’re gonna use whatever nefarious reasons are necessary to pad it out. But by having Marshall use up two slaps right away, that still gives the writers one to play with in the present-day action, and one to hold out for my dream scenario of Old Man Marshall slapping Old Man Barney when they’re in a nursing home together.

The non-slap/bear portions of “Disaster Averted” weren’t quite as memorable. Marshall as a clingy Edgar Allen Poe was amusing (not Angry Marshall, but Hammy Marshall, which Segel also plays well, sounding very much like his “Les Mis” performance with NPH), as was the battle of wills between Marshall and Barney over the slap and the tie. Though Kevin doesn’t seem incredibly long for the show given what happened at the end of the episode, I liked him finally using his professional skills to settle one of the gang’s silly arguments, and I hope we get a few more scenes of people being therapisted before Kal Penn leaves to do “Harold and Kumar in 4D”(*) or whatever else lies in store for him.

(*) In which the guys travel back in time to the late ’80s and hang with NPH back when he was still on “Doogie Howser, M.D.” Just use the same CGI tech from “Benjamin Button,” and it’s all done.

The group’s actual internal conflicts over the end of the world felt skimpy/silly – and had the bad timing to air a few days after “Parks and Rec” did a similarly-themed, but much more emotionally resonant end of the world-style episode – and I generally take it as a bad sign whenever Ted is put into a goofy pair of boots. (Even if, in this case, it was a pair of boots that Robin and Lily secretly envied.) I was much more engaged in what was happening in the present at the bar than anything going on at Barney’s apartment during Hurricane Irene.

As for Robin and Barney’s kiss in the cab, I’ve been on record for a long time that Robin and Barney 1.0 was a missed opportunity in which the writers’ fear of committing to the idea made it untenable from the start, and that if 2.0 actually lets them be a Robin & Barney style couple and not a stereotypical sitcom couple, it could be fantastic. Also, the show has done a very poor job of selling Nora as someone we should care about as either the love of Barney’s life or a member of the group – with Kevin, they’ve at least made the effort to put him into episodes like this one that have nothing to do with his relationship – and as a result, I’d rather the show just move on to characters it and we are actually interested in. I figure the two of them will back away from the kiss pretty quickly and try to make things work with their respective partners, but at least this is getting us moving to where things will get better, I hope.

What did everybody else think?

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