‘How I Met Your Mother’ – ‘The Rebound Girl’: My two dads

Senior Television Writer
11.21.11 114 Comments

A review of tonight’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I send my RSVP to your CompuServe account…

For nearly all of its running time, “The Rebound Girl” was a very satisfying, “HIMYM”-y episode.

Marshall and Lily’s feelings of claustrophobia upon returning to Dowisetrepla from the spacious Long Island house felt very familiar to me from my city days. I don’t believe they’re actually going to move, though. The baby’s arrival is going to create enough of a logistical headache for the writers to tell stories about the gang hanging out together, but if they have a baby and are living an hour’s drive away without traffic(*), then at that point “HIMYM” becomes a show about Ted Mosby, his bro Barney and their mutual ex-girlfriend Robin, with occasional guest appearances by Jason Segel(**) and Alyson Hannigan. But while they’ll almost certainly decide to stay in the city, I enjoyed the various jokes about the big house/future chimp sanctuary, the suddenly-small apartment, Marshall’s brief attempt to become a Ghostbuster (with no help from the cowardly Ernie Hudson) and Robin’s concern about losing her trusted friends to a suburban lifestyle where they’ll be lucky to see each other once a month.

(*) And as anyone who’s ever tried to travel from New York to its suburbs, or vice versa, can tell you, ain’t no such thing as no traffic.

(**) Here’s a question for you: with the way the ratings have gone up this year, I could now see the show outliving the current deal that runs through the end of next season. That said, when a show gets that old, there can be budget cuts and/or actors who want to move on and do other things. I’ve gotten the sense for a while that Jason Segel would probably rather be doing movies full-time and if “The Muppets” is a huge hit, he might have the ability to do so once his contract is up. Can “HIMYM” survive without him, or even with him as a part-timer?

And I also liked Ted and Barney’s plan to adopt a baby together as bro-parents. It was silly and wildly unrealistic, but that was the point. They were very drunk and, as Future Ted kept pointing out, in a very dark place due to their recent relationship failures. It played out amusingly without undermining the very serious character moments both Ted and Barney have had of late, and even though I immediately figured that the baby belonged to James and his husband(***), seeing Barney both attempt to parent and enjoy the power of having an adorable baby strapped to his chest was funny.

(***) Played by, I believe, Jai from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Remember when “Queer Eye” was the biggest thing on television for six months?

Then came the final scene, where Robin revealed the real reason for her irrational behavior towards Lily and Marshall – she’s pregnant – and I groaned audibly enough that I came close to waking up our own baby. (Lily and Marshall will have to learn not to watch annoying TV shows when their kids are falling asleep.) It was like we got 90 percent of an episode that remembered why we liked this show, and then 10 percent of contrived soap opera nonsense that’s going to drag on for the rest of this season: Is the baby Kevin’s? Barney’s? Is Robin the bride at Barney’s wedding, and are they only getting married because of the kid? Will this give the show an excuse to back out of the idea of Barney getting married, because Robin will decide at the last minute she doesn’t want a shotgun wedding? If the show hadn’t fumbled so many of the relationship arcs for so long, I’d be less pessimistic, but I feel like I’ve been on this ride a time or 12 already.

Beyond that, I don’t know that I’m particularly looking forward to two babies on the show at once. I’m not someone who believes that babies automatically ruin sitcoms – it’s more that the babies tend to come when those shows are already running out of gas – and I think there’s a lot of good comedy to be had from Marshall and Lily trying to still be part of the gang while battling sleeplessness and the sheer responsibility that comes from being new parents. But if you have 3/5ths of the cast taking care of babies – 4/5ths if Robin winds up with Barney – then things pretty irrevocably change, and at that point we might as well have Ted move to Westchester, Marshall and Lily to Long Island, Robin to Brooklyn, etc. and only have them interact over the phone while they all move through different subplots.

What did everybody else think? Did Robin’s news excite or annoy you? Are you ready for multiple kids to be running around Ted’s apartment, for MacLaren’s to have a stroller traffic jam, for Robin to have a lot of painful conversations with Kevin and/or Barney?

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