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Tuesday, 25 of February of 2020

How I Met Your Mother – “The Perfect Week”

“Giddy-waitforit-[neighwhinnystomp]-up!”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from being immersed in film studies, television studies, and media studies for a number of years now, it’s that your own baggage, personal or theoretical, always comes with you to whatever you’re studying. In fact, any text is like that tree/cave thing on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back: What’s in there is only what you take with you.

I make that simile for two reasons. Reason number 1 is I think it nicely explains a person’s relationship with any text that they approach, be it a film, a book, a television show, a piece of music, whatever. Reason 2 is that the simile probably didn’t work for everyone. They may not have seen The Empire Strikes Back and thus have no idea what I’m talking about (which is I why I provided that handy link to Wookiepedia), thus limiting their ability to relate to my simile, which weakens my overall argument.

But that, dear readers, is how I felt about last’s night episode of How I Met Your Mother: an analogy that worked for most but kept me bogged down like that swamp that swallowed Luke’s X-wing in The Empire Strikes Back.

Central to the episode’s plot this week is that Barney is on course to have the perfect week: sleep with one woman each night of the week. Now, I get that they’re aiming to set this up like a pitcher’s perfect game in baseball. I just felt out of the loop due to the heavy reliance on sports-themed jokes that the episode deployed. And I, thankfully, wasn’t the only one.

Barney recounts this tale of the perfect week to a sportscaster who wasn’t Bob Costas, so I had no idea who he was, but the interview segment was okay (Nantz kicking a chair when Marshall would dare bring up the jinx was an amusing cut-away joke) since I’ve seen enough of Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night to understand the general format (that show is were most of my sports understanding comes from, I won’t lie).

So I’m doing okay with the extended baseball/sports stuff (though I think it’s getting overplayed by the time Ted and Barney start referring to women as pitches (it was pitches, right?)) until an actual New York Yankee shows up. I have no idea who this guy is, execpt that the show is okay with a Yankee having have a faux hawk but not teenagers who want to have sex with Robin’s little sister. Once he shows up, I’m pretty much done with the episode — they’ve gone too far outside my sports understanding or caring to keep me interested.

So the episode’s general premise, that we need sports to get us through rough times (Barney is dreaming his interview with Nantz while waiting to find out if he’s getting fired, and everyone else is dealing with subplots I’ll get to in a moment), falls flat because I haven’t taken enough sports knowledge into the show with me to fully grasp that.

One thing that I do take into the show with me is an understanding that show values its continuity (the random mention of Victoria was not only awesome, but made me want a cupcake while watching “Drumroll, Please” (that, for the record, also has a reference to The Empire Strikes Back), but the Barney’s perfect week quest again calls attention to that Robin seems totally non-plussed by Barney’s return to his womanizing ways. It’s a refrain I suspect many of us will keep coming back to until the show provides an emotional payoff for why the relationship ended the way it did and why there’s been so little fallout from it. I expect that from the show.

The rest of the crew, as Barney tries to slide into home plate 7 times (is that right? I have no idea), is doing little bits of business. Marshall and Lily have been sharing the same tooth brush for a decade now (and by extension, when Ted and Robin were going out, they were all using that same one as well), and it finally came to light. Robin is waiting for a return call from her one-true love who appears to really like Gargamel. And Ted is embarassed/amused by a student in his class being named Cook Poo.

The toothbrush thing is creepy and not sweet, which is weird for the show because they normally make that leap pretty easily with Marshall and Lily. Maybe it was just my oral hygeine issues. Robin’s obsession with her date calling her back could be the only real sign of Robin attempting to cope with the break up, pile that on with the overplayed gag of her thinking she’s the hottest woman in the bar, and I think we may have something there. Maybe.

But it was the Cook Poo jokes, and of course all the sports stuff, that really locked the episode down as a non-starter for me. The jokes just weren’t funny, and that Marshall, Lily, and Robin kept making them made everyone seem really juvenile. And that the episode used the situation for the tag made the situation even worse (I was hoping for a Field of Dreams riff with Barney).

Easily not the show’s shining moment. Hoping for a home run next week. (See. I can do this sort of thing. Kind of.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Marshall’s use of a “performance enhancing drug” was kind of funny, but veered into the not-so-funny when he announced that he had to go to the hospital. Because you know how they fix that, right?
  • Like Myles, I appreciated them contextualizing Swisher into a Canadian equivalent for Robin, but what about me?!

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