Monday, October 10, 2011

How I Met Your Mother: 'Field Trip'

Quick Review: It played to the show's strengths and was overall a good episode.

Best Episode Moment: Barney and Ted polling the field trip. It's a welcome return to the kind of gags the show used to be good at.

Worst Episode Moment: The tag at the end. I kept expecting the flashback to the Edward/Jacob James Olmos conversation to go somewhere, but it didn't. The scene wasn't needed at all.

Best Character Moment: Marshall walking into Garrison Cootes' (Martin Short) office and showing him the ultrasound. Jason Segel is the king of powerful, understated performances, and he nailed it.

Worst Character Moment: Robin wanting to get her "swerve" on. Really? It's not creepy enough that she's dating her therapist (Kal Penn), that's how she tells him she wants to get intimate? In front of Ted's tour group?

Best Character Interaction: Anything Ted and Barney other than the tag. Those two were really bro-ing it up and it was fun to watch. This is why they are friends, and it's nice to see.

Worst Character Interaction: Lily insisting that Marshall clean up his story because the growing baby might hear. I suppose this is a step up from last time (in that she seems to care about the baby again) but she's taking it too far. (TBS version of 'Breakfast Club' indeed.)

Best Character Progression: Barney. He's showing slow but sure signs that he intends to be a better man, even if it's coming to terms with Nora possibly being 37. I'd like to think that this continues, that we see him gradually become the kind of character we want to see get married.

Worst Character Regression: While Robin dating her therapist is creepy, at least she's trying to make progress, so we'll call it even with her.

Best Sagat Narration: "He became a DJ." It's always fun to see Future Ted contradict present Ted. 

Best Callback: Marshall's fish routine. It's completely terrible, but it's funny the way that he believes it's comedy gold.

Best Star Wars Reference: Barney's Ewok presentation (particularly his concern that Nora was on the wrong side of The Ewok Line.) Plus, if I'm not mistaken, you can hear a little of the Ewok song during the office party.

Any hint about The Mother? No, but at least Marshall saved the world for her, which is nice.

Any hint about The Wedding? No, except that Robin is dating her therapist and trying something new, so perhaps she isn't the bride.

Do we like Ted this episode? It's a wash for Ted. I like how he earnestly cares about making an impact, but his field trip was just too poorly planned from the get-go, so it's hard to have sympathy. (Plus, dragging them into MacLarin's? Come on.)

Overall Opinion of the Episode: I'm going to say this is the strongest episode of the season. I liked how Marshall is still so enthusiastic and passionate that he's able to drag his boss back from the brink. This is hopefully a sign of things to come, good things.

Ted's field trip was hit and miss. I liked how Barney just started tagging along, and the Ewok slide-show was cute. The polling scene, as I mentioned, was well done, but I would have loved to see the tour be a disaster for a reason other than Ted didn't plan ahead and now he's scrambling. There's a lot of potential in dragging around a group through the streets of New York, and they only realized some of it. (The German family loving David Hasslehoff, though, was pretty good.)

Of course, the big storyline is Robin and her therapist. Is it creepy? The show is walking a fine line of hanging a lantern on that fact, what with everyone saying so in the episode, and showing that it is possible for these two to work it out. I appreciated how Robin turned the tables and got him to talk about his problems. I also like how Robin is trying to progress past the pathetic shell the writers concocted for her, and I suppose this episode will be judged by what comes later. If it can avoid another Ted/Zoey type fiasco, I'm all for it.

Again, we're in the part of the season that's a lot of setup, but I'm enjoying the setup. If they get the payoff right this time, that will improve these episodes. If they mess it up, we'll watch them in the inevitable reruns and mourn what could have been.

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