Review: ‘How I Met Your Mother’ – ‘The Stamp Tramp’

Senior Television Writer
11.19.12 36 Comments

A review of tonight’s “How I Met Your Mother” coming up just as soon as I send you a fax machine and a Charo calendar…

These last few “HIMYM” episodes have prompted several questions, from both me and you: Why are we still watching? Why am I still writing reviews? What has happened to this show we once loved?

Well, “The Stamp Tramp” didn’t magically cure all the ills of “HIMYM” season 8. It wasn’t even perfect on its own; I groaned, for instance, when the emotional moment between Lily and Ted was immediately sold out for one more joke about College Ted’s bad judgment. And on the whole, everything is much, much, much broader than it used to be. But at the same time, “The Stamp Tramp” was full of enough clever ideas and jokes that it felt like an actual version of the show that I liked, rather than the zombie one we’ve been getting lately. By early “HIMYM” standards, this would be a minor one; by season 8 standards, it was damn near a classic.

Barney’s strip club obsession, like his knack for manipulating incredibly dumb women, has been taken way too far. And yet turning the whole thing into a parody of LeBron James’s heinous “The Decision” – not just the ESPN special itself, but the prolonged courtship period of the other teams he never had any intention of going to – made things so absurd that it actually became funny again. And some of the individual jokes (the one about the sabermetrically-inclined “Moneyballs,” for instance) were actually very smart. As I said last week, the show has largely killed my interest in Barney and Robin at this point, but at least this episode put Robin back in Barney’s element and was a reminder of how much they had in common back in the days of “Zip, Zip, Zip.”

Marshall’s penchant for giving overly-optimistic stamps of approval, meanwhile, was one of those cases of the “HIMYM” writers coming up with a new catchphrase idea that actually suits the character in question. This is absolutely something Marshall would do, and it was a surprisingly effective comic showcase for Joe Manganiello (last seen on “HIMYM” taking Robin to a hockey game in the season 5 premiere), particularly with the payoff that it was all an act to sabotage Marshall. (That the story led to another one of Future Ted’s hateful “but we’ll get to that later” was not pleasant, but this seems like the kind of story they will have no choice but to get back to soon, rather than stringing it out for weeks or months.) And since I’m assuming Martin Short isn’t available (or has too high a quote) for more frequent appearances, I’m completely on board with Joe Lo Truglio coming on as the firm’s other name partner.

And, as mentioned above, the joke at the end of the Ted/Lily scene was a case of not leaving well enough alone, but Ted’s end of the stamp tramping led to a great orchestrated spit take by Lily and the others. Simple pleasures, people.

What did everybody else think?

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