Monday, January 21, 2013

How I Met Your Mother: "Ring Up"

Quick Review: It's like the series forgot that this is supposed to be a love story between a man and his future wife.

Episode Synopsis: Barney believes it would be in Ted's best interest to continue dating his much younger, much more uninhibited girlfriend, despite having very little in common with her. Meanwhile, Robin adjusts to the powerful dynamic of wearing an engagement ring. -tvguide

As usual, there are spoilers ahead, so you might want to watch the episode first. And, while you're at it, Lord of the Rings. It gets referenced quite a bit, and while the gag has been done before, it still works. Besides, if you haven't seen Lord of the Rings, you really should. You don't even need to see the extended editions, but if you can, you really should. There's so much more added to the story. Then, if you're feeling like it, watch the Star Wars trilogy again. Because why not. It's the Star Wars trilogy. And if you think I'm talking about the prequels, let me assure you, I'm not. I'm never talking about the prequels.
Best Episode Moment: Robin's "On the House" song and dance routine

Worst Episode Moment: Ted explains why he's wearing the old man hat.

Bad Realization: Ted's sleeping with Barney's half-sister, Carly

Worse Realization: Barney encouraged him to do it

Worst Realization: John Lithgow isn't in this episode at all

Best Accessory: A leather cuff

Biggest Health Hazard: That same leather cuff

Biggest Hand: Marshall, thanks to the leather cuff

Best Lord of the Rings Reference: Robin's ring of power

Best Sagat Narration: "This is how Uncle Marshall likes to tell this story."

Best Callback: Remembering that Barney has a half-sister

Any hint about The Mother? She's going to love it that Ted told his kids this story

Any hint about The Wedding? It's going to be awkward if Ted brings a date. Or even if he doesn't. Yeah, it's just going to be awkward for Ted. Right before he meets his future wife.

Do we like Ted this episode?  No, and I'm not sure I like the show much this week, either.

Overall Opinion of the Episode: Remember when How I Met Your Mother was a love story told in reverse? Remember last week when all the pieces started falling into place and we knew that Ted would meet his future wife in four months. Remember when we started to see Ted grow as a person and be someone who is worthy of The Mother.

Good, because whoever wrote this episode sure doesn't. Now, I get doing an episode on age differences. Now that Ted is no longer in his twenties, it makes sense for him to interact with a girl fifteen years his junior. There's a lot of comedy potential there. I did like the moment when Ted and Carly had absolutely nothing in common. What should have followed was Ted finally realizing that he's done with hooking up and is now ready for the Real Thing[tm]. Remember when that was something Ted was looking for?

This show is like a kid realizing that there are only a few days left of summer. Now that the fabled date of Mother-meeting is upon us, it wants to cram as many Ted Dating Inappropriate Women storylines as possible into its schedule. This isn't the way to take the final bow, to keep Ted in an immature rut as long as possible. That Ted isn't interesting, and certainly not worth paying attention to for eight years. (And however long his kids have been listening to this story.)

I'd rather see Ted trying to get his life in order, focusing on his career, his teaching, and being a great architect. I'd like to see Ted helping Lily and Marshall with their marriage, help Robin and Barney plan theirs, and be a great uncle to little Marvin. Instead, we get episodes like this.

There is one possible reason for Ted not having his life together just yet. Since the show is going to return for a ninth (and final) season, just because Ted meets his future wife this May is not a guarantee that she will instantly fall in love with him. In fact, because of things like this, she might downright despise him. Then the final season will go from 'How I Met Your Mother' to 'How I Got Your Mother to Like Me.' I'm not saying that's where they are going, but it's a possibility.

The revelation that Carly was Barney's half-sister could have been a lot funnier as well. This show used to have more deft timing. Now it seems to be going through the motions. By the time Barney scrolled up to the girl's face, it was pretty obvious where the episode was going. They tried to mix things up with Barney then attempting to throw an impromptu wedding, but that wasn't entertaining so much as something we sat through until we got the point, that Barney was now over meaningless flings.

The whole storyline was a bust and yet another missed opportunity. What would have been masterfully handled in season one was now simply filler this year. The show is better than this.

Then we had Robin dealing with her ring making her invisible to lecherous guys who'd give her attention and free things. Again, remember when Robin was five kinds of awesome and not just a typical television female? While the musical number was cute, and the best part of the episode, I would have loved to see Robin realize that there could be an upside. She's not invisible to everyone, just guys who only want to buy her affection. This could be great for weeding out people she no longer needs in her life and provide her a chance to grow, as a woman and as a journalist.Another missed opportunity.

Plus, the idea of a wedding ring making a woman invisible was already covered by Scrubs.

I did find Marshall and Lily's roleplaying via the leather cuff amusing, especially Marshall's grotesquely swollen hand. It was yet another post-baby trope that they're hitting like clockwork. Although after last week's episode, this one, like the other plots, just seemed too by-the-numbers.

So yeah, I'm very disappointed in this week's episode. It had a few cute moments, but they were overshadowed by a lot of wrong turns and missed opportunities. Let's hope the next time out gets us back on track.


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