Monday, November 4, 2013

How I Met Your Mother "The Lighthouse" Review

Robin and Loretta competed over who makes the best scrambled eggs. The competition dominates the second act. The “Scramble-Off” is silly and awful. It inspires one of my least favorite lines in sitcom history—about the intense implications of the Scramble-Off. The extras cheer for Loretta’s scrambled egg like they are fans hanging out at College GameDay. My expectations for the episode were very low. A season of nothing promised nothing in the previews last week. I remembered that the month is November, though. Networks care about quality during November for advertising reasons. TV writers actively try to tell stories of substance during sweeps periods. So, since November’s a month for quality television, “The Lighthouse” has some substance to it. It’s not completely empty and void.

The A story about Robin and Lorettas’s rivalry is terrible. A scramble-off? Really? The rivalry is renewed on Saturday morning, 33 hours before the wedding, because Robin wears Loretta’s blouse to breakfast--Robin dips the blouse in ketchup and pours syrup on it. There’s a lot of fluff in even stories with a modicum of substance. Of course, one read the scrambled eggs rivalry as a metaphor for Robin’s fertility issue. Her eggs are scrambled. She can’t have children. The story doesn’t build to that confession to Loretta as much as it comes out of nowhere. Loretta laments Robin’s inability to cook her imaginary grandchildren breakfast. Robin leaves, tears welling up in her eyes, wherein Barney tells Loretta why Robin reacted sadly.

After so many episodes that showed why Robin and Barney suck for each other and should never marry, “The Lighthouse” tries to show why Robin and Barney don’t suck for each other and should marry. Loretta’s unsettled by the Robin revelation. Barney explains to her why he’s marrying her knowing he won’t have children with her. The show flashes back to last fall. Barney and Robin leave a secret club. Barney says he’d like for Robin to get a babysitter when she’s a mother so they can still go to secret clubs together. Robin tells him she can’t have children. Barney instinctively hugs her. Robin smiles. Bays and Thomas, it’d be wise to show that last season, because your job is to also charm the audience with their courtship.

The scene’s mirrored moments later when Loretta returns to the dining room. Robin learned her mother won’t attend her wedding. One of the running gags in the episode is a list of what Robin’s friends know about her mother, which is little. The other gag is the tired ‘Linus hands Lily a drink’ and ‘Lily breaks glass whenever she remembers Marshall’s judgeship.” Loretta embraces Robin as Barney did last fall, instinctively and immediately. The Stinsons, then, are bizarre people but empathetic and consoling, as well. Barney’s reason for marrying Robin, he tells Loretta, isn’t for children but for Robin. His love for Robin transcends his desire for children. Season 9’s been devoid of substance. Barney’s embrace of Robin, as well as Loretta’s embrace of her, is manipulative and forced. The effort’s at least there to show why the couple wants to marry.

It’s not a successful story, though. None of the issues get resolved. Personal tragedy allows for moments of sympathy and empathy. The neat resolution of the story suggests Robin’s feelings about Loretta stem from her personal mother issues and that Loretta’s embrace heals what hurts. Robin’s probably a good character under a different writer, but not on this show.

The B and C stories lack substance. One can’t ask the HIMYM writers to try to tell three effective stories. Marshall and the plot device stop by Ted’s childhood home. Harry Groener joins Marshall and plot device so that they can work out their issues. They bond over what annoys them about Harry Groener’s character. Marshall learns to speak his mind and stand up for himself. He leaves Ted’s step-father behind; he tells the plot device he’ll choose the music because she blew up his life.

Ted takes Cassie to the Farhampton lighthouse. The scenes at the lighthouse look terrible. Save some money in the budget to make a fake lighthouse backdrop look more real. It looked like Ringer’s green screens. Ted doesn’t learn a gosh darn thing with Cassie. Ted remembers that he wants a woman he loves at the places he goes. Cassie’s not interested in hearing Ted explaining why lighthouses send him back in time. The Mother returns at the very end. Ted took the woman he loves there and proposed to her. The scene’s flat, especially the proposal. A shared experience in vomiting after climbing a flight of stairs along with a feeling of transportation through time is cute and all, but one needs to see a bit more before the proposal, right? Why the heck is Ted marrying this woman?

The one promising aspect of the final season seems doomed, like the rest of the season.

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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.