Monday, December 10, 2012

How I Met Your Mother "The Over-Correction" Review

There was a lot to dislike in "The Over-Correction." Robin, Ted and Lily were involved in the worst kind of sitcom plot; Marshall learned his mother had sex with Lily's father. Robin, Ted, Lily, and Marshall were stuck in closets, either trapped, traumatized, or both. Is the closet a metaphor for the writers and their feelings of being trapped by a story that's been unnaturally extended for nearly four seasons? Once upon a time, How I Met Your Mother was a smart and original comedy that I contemplated buying the DVD sets of; now, my decision not to purchase the DVDs couldn't have been smarter. Bays and Thomas have never said what the critics wanted them to stay--they've stuck to their guns about the story they want to tell, which is fine, but please try once in awhile. "The Over-Correction" was lazy.

The title comes from the characters definition of someone over-correcting after something doesn't go their way, like a job opportunity or school election or a relationship. The disappointed person over-corrects, or over-compensates, to make up for the mistake. Following Ted's break-up with Victoria, we got a quick flash-cut to Ted dating an imprisoned woman who demands he hang up first lest he show his 'bitch' essence. The theory of the gang is that Barney's over-correcting for the Robin situation not working out by dating her complete opposite, and office nemesis, Patrice. The idea exists that Robin's insane behavior is evidence of her over-correcting for Barney rejecting her while she wore nothing but a coat and sexy lingerie. Robin acts stupidly throughout the episode while Barney seems happy and closer to the peace he's been after.

Barney's relationship with Patrice came out of nowhere last week, and it's sort of grounded through Barney's active behavior; however, it doesn't get any more than five, maybe six, beats. Barney's unaware of his three friends who're hiding in his apartment as he entertains Patrice for the evening and decorates the Christmas tree. Robin's idea about their relationship is supposed to be the audience's idea, too; that Barney's miserable and connected with the first nice soul he found on a sad night, but that he doesn't really love her and that he's 'over-correcting.' Barney's wonderfully underwritten. Neil Patrick Harris isn't straining to make a dumbass joke or gimmick work. He's watched, so the story never gets inside of his head. Robin wants Patrice to see The Playbook, the book containing Barney's tricks for getting women to sleep with him, so that she'll feel repulsed and leave him.

The process of Robin finding The Playbook is bad, as is her attempts to get Ted to help her. Ted's motivated by the desire to get his stuff back. Ted's friends borrowed Ted's stuff and never returned them, like a shirt from a school election, a cooler, red cowboy boots, a label maker, and a trash can. Meanwhile, Lily's also in Barney's apartment because she'd rather travel to pump breast milk than go into a room and lock a door. The expected gags ensue. Barney leaves; Robin tries to find the book, finds it, but must return to the closet because Barney's returning. This goes on and on, with Ted added, and then Lily. Ted's horrified whenever he locates another of his item, whether the items are ornaments or trash cans. Robin threatens Ted into helping with a photo of an army knife prepared to slice the cowboy boots.

Lily wants to talk sense into Robin. Robin ignores her and leaves The Playbook where Patrice will see it. Barney doesn't lie to her when confronted. Patrice is disgusted, repulsed, etc. Barney shows his commitment to a new life by throwing the book in Ted's trash can and lighting a match, burning not only the book but damaging Ted's trash can. Later, Robin urges her friends to help her intervene for Barney's sake. There's no way he's happy with Patrice, it can't be possible--that's what Robin thinks, and she's probably right. For now, though, Barney is happy. Robin's the one receives an intervention.

The title may be a reference to the writers' efforts to correct their initial mistakes with Robin and Barney. If so, they're totally over-correcting, and the produced episodes have been horrible. The characters are well-paid professionals in New York City. The amount of free time they have is stunning. Now, before anyone asks me if I'd like to watch a show that followed any of them at their jobs, I'd say yes, because I really dug David Foster Wallace's last (unfinished) novel, The Pale King which depicted life working for the I.R.S.

The horrible B story in the episode involves Marshall's mother getting back into the 'game' just short of two years after Marvin died. Predictably, she sleeps with Lily's father. Jason Segal's sort of amusing hiding in the closet, traumatized by what happened. Alyson Hanigan's less amusing as she's clearly stopped trying on this show long ago. The point of the sexual union between them is to surprise the audience and let Chris Elliot deliver nonsense lines. Elliot is the most delightful actor in the episode, and his scenes made me half-smile.

So, to the point, HIMYM can't produce enjoyable filler episodes any more. Any attempt at filler involves stretching the characterization of the main characters to the point they become caricatures. The A story was another low point for the series, and the B story was so goddamn lazy it ashamed the sloths.


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About The Foot

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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.