Monday, January 16, 2012

How I Met Your Mother: "46 Minutes"

Quick Review: Mostly annoying with a few funny gags and a tolerable close.

Episode Synopsis: Lily and Marshall's official move to the suburbs hits a snag when her pushy father flat-out refuses to move out of their new digs. Meanwhile, Ted, Barney and Robin deal with their friends' exodus from the city by hitting a strip club. -tvguide 

Spoilers ahead, so watch the episode before you proceed. Of course, you are free to proceed without viewing the episode, but then don't whine to me about spoilers. Spoilers.

Best Episode Moment: Barney constantly rewriting the opening credits. (Much like he did last season.)

Worst Episode Moment:
Pretty much anything involving Ted.

Creepiest Episode Moment: Mickey (Chris Elliot) and the Widow Rodriguez.

Best Character Interaction: Mickey and Marshall over the intercom.

Worst Character Interaction: Robin and Kevin playing relationship chicken.

Best Character Progression: Sadly, no one progressed this week.

Worst Character Regression: The rest of the gang sans Marshall and Lily.

Best Callback: Russian Stripper Lily. 

Any hint about The Mother? I worry if she willingly decides to hang out with this group.

Any hint about The Wedding? Hopefully Lily nixes any and all strippers.

Do we like Ted this episode?
Not at all. Yes, he learns a lesson at the end, but that doesn't make up for him being really annoying. Even first-season Ted was more interesting.

Overall Opinion of the Episode: This one had its moments, but the overall package was annoying. The theme this week was abandonment and trying to make connections. Robin, Barney, and Ted felt abandoned and tried to make a connection with a stripper and her insane boyfriend. Lily's dad Mickey was trying his best to reconnect with his childhood and with his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson to be. This episode could have worked, but it just felt like it was killing time until the final beat.

Robin and Kevin's "relationship chicken" also proved annoying. The concept, like most HIMYM concepts, was great in theory but grating in execution. It served only to ensure Robin and Kevin remained with the gang through their "zany" adventures and was forced. It felt crammed into the episode when it could have been its own episode story and more organic to the characters. I'd have liked to see an entire episode of them not saying no and having a real moment figuring themselves out. Plus, you'd think that the notion of a strip club would be what merits them actually having a conversation about what they do and don't like. (Are we to believe that they've been dating this long and can't say "no" to each other?)

That's been happening a lot this season. Rather than have the characters develop, or have the plot be a natural outgrowth of who they are, the characters are simply reshaped to fit the story. It makes the characters inconsistent and hard to watch, because if they are only there to serve the plot, then we have no more emotional investment with them. I want to still love these characters, but the writers are making it harder and harder each week.

I did like the moral at the end, that it wasn't the booth at the bar but rather anywhere with the five of them together. That could have been a great theme throughout the episode, but rather than have the characters honestly deal with Marshall and Lily gone, they were forced into a night of crazy adventures with Stripper Lily. (I do have to say that Alyson Hannigan was great as her stripper alter-ego. She has a knack for playing her own doppelgangers, so this wasn't a stretch for her at all.)

A much better episode would have covered the course of perhaps a week, with the friends struggling each night to adjust to an emptier booth or try to fill it each day with someone new. Instead, while the ending was good, it wasn't earned by the episode. It tried, but the sweet moment felt tacked on and contrived, and not the result of the kind of character progression this show used to give us.

This episode had a few cute moments; the overall impression I have, though, isn't favorable. They tried too hard, they didn't let the characters be themselves, and they put too much into one episode and made it feel forced and contrived. It makes me fear for the end of the series. This is supposed to be a "Love Story told in reverse," but the romance is all but gone in this show. I just hope the ending to the series isn't as tacked on as the ending to this episode.

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