How I Met Your Mother received positive feedback for last week’s flashback episode because, uh, I don’t really know. “Mom & Dad” continues the trend this season, which is each episode failing to do anything worthwhile. Future Ted remarks at the end, ‘And for a rare moment all was well that weekend.” The line suggests the audience was given a break from the non-stop drama of the weekend. The non-stop drama, mind you, includes a scrambled egg competition, a poker game, something about whisky, Lily wanting to kill her husband (okay, that’s fair), and Ted standing sadly at the top of a lighthouse, with a woman who can’t even cry right. All was well? Are you kidding me? This show hasn’t been ‘well’ in four seasons.
Barney wants his mom and dad to get back together and then re-marry. Jerry’s cordial and polite ‘hello’ to Loretta in the lobby convinces Barney Jerry and Loretta continue to love each other, thirty years after they parted. Barney’s desire to re-create the family life he didn’t’ experience as a child motivates him to manipulate events in that cheesy and forced sitcom way of the very worst and washed up sitcoms. The lazy devices and gags irks me in How I Met Your Mother. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas once were on the precipice of reinventing the sitcom, according to critics in 2005. I’m sitting on the couch tonight, watching and listening to this episode, listening to the piped in laughter of the audience, and brainstorming something shattering to sum up the creative despair of most sitcoms. I thought of nothing except to recommend anyone looking for the ‘re-invented’ sitcom to watch Community.
James enters the story as Barney’s combatant, for he wants his father to reunite with Loretta. The brothers imagine an idyllic 1950s style family life, which allows for a little musical number. Little musical numbers in How I Met Your Mother don’t work. Neil Patrick Harris has Broadway experience, starred in Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, but he cannot save the musical number. The musical number annoyed me because it reminded me of those self-indulgent musical numbers I see on any awards show. The number picks up in the second go-around when Jerry turns around, dressed like a rebel with just one cause, which is to make James’ father a cuckold, in Barney’s imagination, and brings attitude with him. The fantasy fits with Barney’s other fantasies. After all, the character writes like he talks, penning ‘wait for it’ in a sentence.
The A story furthers the idea that Barney’s a sociopath, though. Jerry’s wife is taken somewhere for the day to see her husband for a ‘surprise’ date. Barney wrote a fake suicide note to his father from her to speed along the process of his parents’ reunion as lovers. The third act resolves the headaches of the first two acts. Barney accepts Loretta’s love for James’ father. Robin dutifully helps Barney realize why it’s okay for Loretta to love James’ father over Jerry. Evidently, Jerry’s marriage does not communicate anything to Barney. James’ divorce makes family more important for him. Yeah, okay, that’s sloppy storytelling. The writers could’ve weaved Robin’s impending marriage into his family as a comfort for Barney. I mean, Barney wanted a family growing up. He’ll do anything for it. Robin’s his family soon.
Billy Zabka and Ted continue their feud that began in the episode in which Ted got stripped of Best Man privileges. Ted investigates Zabka, a bell hop, and Robin’s Canadian cousin as culprits behind the ink-spill on an autographed photo of Wayne Gretzky. Ted’s motivated to clear his name lest he disappoint Barney as Best Man. The investigation includes poking fun at French Canadians, unfounded accusations of wrong-doing about a black man, and Zabka’s past as a villain in 1980 films. I don’t know what to write other than what I wrote about for pretty much everything I’ve seen this season (except for the premiere) about the Mosby-Zabka feud.
The plot device, meanwhile, made its exit in the C story. Next week’s episode should end on Marshall’s triumphant arrival to the Farhampton Inn, just in time for Thanksgiving, so we can discuss how happy that makes us at the dinner table. The plot device served its purpose. Marshall’s not with Lily, but now he will be with her.
Critics and fans delude themselves if they think whatever they liked about last week’s episode will maintain for the rest of the season. Example: this very episode.