Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How I Met Your Mother: "The Overcorrection"

Quick Review:As long as you ignore Robin it's a tolerable episode

Episode Synopsis: Barney's developing relationship with Patrice leaves Robin questioning his motives, while Marshall's widowed mother gets back into the dating pool, but he thinks she may be swimming with a shark. -tvguide

Spoilers ahead, so you might want to watch the episode before reading this. But if you do, make sure you're using your own television and not one you've just borrowed and never given back. I know, I know, you believe that possession is nine-tenths of the law, but sometimes you don't want to mess with that other tenth. That tenth could be crazy. Seriously crazy. The kind of crazy that believes homicide is an apporpriate response to betrayal. There's a lesson in all this. Don't borrow from people who have "Let's kill them" as plan A.

Best Episode Moment: Barney burns his playbook without a moment's hesitation

Worst Episode Moment: Any time Robin interacts with Patrice

Worst Nickname: "Borrowny"

Best "Challenge Accepted": Ted's red cowboy boots

Quickest way to end a friendship with Ted: Not returning his red cowboy boots (because your wife wanted to be Wonder Woman for Halloween) 

Worst Hostage Crisis: Robin holding a knife to Ted's red boots

Even Worse Development: She's using Ted's own knife

Best Running Gag: Apparently everything everyone has is Ted's

Best Use of a Stormtrooper: Concealing "The Playbook"

Worst Rebound: Dating an incarcerated convict

Best Get Psyched Song: "You Give Love a Bad Name"

Best Fan Convention: "Bernie Man" 

Best Source of Medical Training: Lethal Weapon 2

Best Place to use a Breast Milk Pump: Barney's Apartment

Worst Place to Test a Breast Milk Pump: Mickey's nipples

Best Ignored Advice: "Or you could do almost anything else and not seem so creepy." 

Worst Three Words Spoken Aloud: "Family With Benefits"

Best Callback: Marshal's fish routine, now with more "edge"

Any hint about The Mother? She's going to borrow all of Ted's stuff, too.

Any hint about The Wedding? Is Barney marrying Robin because she's holding one of his suits hostage?

Do we like Ted this episode: He's already taking on the dad role of lending things out and never seeing them again, so yes, he's very likable. (His post-Victoria dating habits notwithstanding.)

Overall Opinion of the Episode: I get that a common sitcom plot is to have a character face a crisis, become a pain to everyone else while dealing with it, but in the end come out of the crisis and be better for it. We saw Marshall go through this when Lily left him, and we're seeing it now with Robin. The only difference is that Marshall was a pain over the course of only one episode, he was still a likable character while dealing with his pain, and the moment he started getting better was sweet.

Robin's struggle to deal with her feelings for Barney have made her a horrible, unsympathetic character. Is this the best the writers can give us, force us to watch as Robin abuses Patrice. It's not comical, because rather than sympathize with Robin's plight, we just wonder whether it would be too difficult to replace her character with Patrice. It's painful to watch her character continue to be assassinated by people who used to know how to write her properly, and I hope that the intervention at the end of the episode finally gets her back on solid footing. I'm not optimistic, but hopefully next week's two part episode will prove me wrong.

On the Marshall and Lily front, it was pretty obvious when Marshall's mom wanted to start dating that she would wind up with Mickey. Were the writers really that desperate for the "family with benefits" line? Again, they took the quick and lazy way out rather than actually have fun with it. A more fun story could have been Marshall and Lily believing their parents are hooking up, when in fact the opposite is happening. Why not go with a farcical angle? Or, we could actually see a genuine relationship develop between the two of them that was actually compelling and honest. Again, so many wasted opportunities to avoid the cheap joke.

The only redeeming factor in the episode, just like last week, is Barney. He's the one character showing any development, and that's probably because the writers are forced to so we can buy his willingness to get married. Still, I'll take it, because I like character development and Neil Patrick Harris can swing from sleazy to sweet at the drop of Ted's dime. I like his relationship with Patrice, and while she was a one note character with Robin, she works well with Barney as his good influence and the opposite of anyone he's ever dated.

There was something to the theme this week, over correcting, and it had a lot of potential. After a bad experience, it makes sense to go in the opposite extreme. However, this just wasn't explored well. We saw Ted dating a prisoner, when again he could have been throwing himself hilariously into his work. We had Marshall's mother and Lily's father, but that really wasn't an over correction so much as two lonely people. Robin wasn't really over correcting, just continuing last week's insanity. There wasn't much to the theme, unfortunately.

It's becoming clear at this point that this had better be the final season of this show. Everyone has pretty much given up trying to reach the lofty heights of its first few seasons and now the show is running on momentum and fumes. It's not like the show still can't be good, it has the same potential it always did, it's just that the writers have lost faith in these characters and are resorting to the cheapest and dirtiest gags possible. They barely explore the themes like they used to, and it's almost an afterthought. It's almost becoming a parody of itself, and if this had been what the first season was like, it might never have been renewed.

So while yes, I enjoyed this week's episode more than last week's, it wasn't by much. Next week is the fall finale, so we'll see if the show can course correct and be the show we know it can be.


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