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A Half-Baked How I Met Your Mother Leaves Me Sad

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Sadly, at least in part, my televisual malaise continued last night. The How I Met Your Mother episode we were treated to fell distinctly flat. It should have been a good episode, it could have been a good episode, but, for some reason, it just didn't work out.

The episode featured one of the usual sure-fire paths to success for HIMYM, a brand new Barney-ism. Virtually every time that Barney comes up with a new phrase or idea, or even puts a new spin on an old one, the episode tends to be funny. That just didn't happen with last night's "chain of screaming."

The idea was simple enough (and I think that was the problem) — when a boss gets yelled at he tends to yell at those under him who yell at those under them and so on and so forth, thereby creating a "chain of screaming." I remember the first paying job I had, where one of my bosses explained to me that "shit rolls downhill." So I didn't really need Barney to explain to me, 15 years later, the exact same thing. And Barney's notions about the world are funny when he is either wholly and completely wrong or shows us something that we never thought of before that is 100 percent right. To have Barney state the completely obvious isn't funny or clever.

Perhaps that's why the show had Barney unable to truly name his idea. He couldn't decide whether it was a chain, circle, or pyramid. But I think it would be a bad sign if the show can no longer find the funny in Barney's ideas and has to resort to looking around the edges of them for humor.

I was also distressed that the mini-plot of Ted's having gotten a new car in no way referenced the fact that up until recently Marshall had a car (the poor Fiero). It felt as though the writers completely forgot that Marshall had ever owned a vehicle (and yet an entire episode was centered on it) in New York City. Last night's episode really needed one reference to Marshall's car and that old episode, one little nod to let us know that the producers remembered what they've done in the past.

It was actually terribly disconcerting that they didn't include such a reference, as one of the strengths of the show is its strong memory; they constantly reference old episodes. To not have done so last night almost made it feel as though a completely different group of folks wrote the episode than the usual group.

In the end, I don't think the episode was a bad one, it just wasn't nearly as strong as it should have been and as the show usually is. What with the strike and the shortened television season, I really feel as though every show needs to be firing on all cylinders all the time in order to make up for the minimal number of new episodes.

On the upside, and I'll just briefly toot my own horn here, Top Gear was not only new and wonderful, but their promo for next week used a quote from me. Talk about genius…

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.