Monday, October 15, 2012

How I Met Your Mother "Who Wants To Be A Godparent" Review

What were the odds How I Met Your Mother's "Who Wants to be a Godparent" wouldn't be a trainwreck? I saw the title of the episode last week and then read the description over the weekend. I sighed. I sigh a lot in reaction to network television. I let out a sigh of relief last week when the Marvin plot didn't suck the energy out of the episode or make me want to bludgeon myself about the head with a bag full of rocks. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas saved the terrible Marvin-related story for the fourth episode instead. The writers probably gathered around the table and thought about the audience expectations on the first Marvin story, how we'd assume it'd be a story straight from TVTropes. The audience figures the show is washed up and unable to tell fresh stories about babies, so they set up a story about Marvin and turned it into a story about Lily and her father. I read 'Marshall and Lily put their friends through tests to determine Marvin's godparent' and threw my hands up in exasperation. HIMYM never fails to disappoint me.

The second act is the biggest problem of the episode. The first and third acts are concerned with the friendship between the new parents, Lily and Marshall, and the three friends, because the past five months changed the dynamic of the group. McClaren's isn't the place to go anymore. The place for Marshall and Lily after a long day's work isn't a bar with a couple of cold ones, but a warm bed to relax in while taking in a good book or television show. They're new parents, stressed to their last nerve, and unable to listen to any of their friends' problems that aren't a level eight or higher. Ted, Robin and Barney just want to spend time with their friends and share stories from their lives.

Marshall and Lily learn a truth on their one day out together that 19th century Russians learned from the day before; that is, that we're mortal and will one day die. The 19th century Russian writers, specifically Tolstoy, wanted to resolve the question of life's meaning in the face of death. Why not kill ourselves if we'll die someday? What makes life worth living? Marshall and Lily just want to draft a will to secure Marvin's future. They're stumped when asked to sign a guardian for Marvin. Ted, Robin and Barney jump to convince Marshall and Lily that they're the right choice. Bribes are brought to the apartment. Large stuffed animals populate the living room of the apartment. Barney dresses in costume and sings songs to his friends. Marshall and Lily decide to play a game to decide which friend would become guardian in the event of their deaths.

The game occupies nearly the entire second act and falls flat in every cutaway to the possible future where Ted, Robin, or Barney is telling Marvin about the fundamentals of life. They're tasked with explaining what they would say in the event of mommy and daddy's passing; with what they'd say about sex; with dealing with his first heart-break; with disciplining the child. The situations are written specifically for each character. Barney's inappropriate in every instance of explaining something to Marvin; Robin is alternately sweet and Canadian (because Canadians and Minnesotans are depicted oddly in HIMYM); Ted is pretentious and awkward, using a puppet named Prof. Info-Saurus, which includes a rap. The game goes on and on. Series-long fans of the show might've been delighted by the game. The game's reminiscent of earlier HIMYM, when it used to be part of the show's charm. HIMYM has a thick atmosphere of suck around it now. I wondered throughout: why the hell would Ted, Robin and Barney do this for people who don't care about their lives? Why would Marshall and Lily put their friends through such a game? Marshall provides a reasonable explanation (basically it's to forget about the fact him and Lily will die someday).

The third act resolves their issues. The game's forgotten once Barney passively-aggressively remarks about the game-runners being lousy friends. Ted wonders why he, a friend of theirs for twenty years, needs to compete. The hurt feelings don't come naturally, as the friends were totally into the game throughout; its cheap writing, and the writers cheated. They can't have their silly game cake and then eat the emotional crumbs when all the fun is over. Either Ted, Robin and Barney are mad or they're not. They can't grovel and act like idiots for an act because it's what HIMYM has always done. Commit to the characters feelings, show.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I loved this episode of How I Met Your Mother! I loved the ending, even if it was a cheap way out and back to the usual dynamic of the group. I didn’t get to watch it live last night, because I was watching the Monday night football game with my coworkers at DISH. Thankfully, my Hopper recorded it with the PrimeTime Anytime feature so that I could watch it after the game. I can’t wait for the next episode, and to finally see the story progress back to where it is supposed to go!

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.