Friday, 4 November 2011

How I Met Your Mother 7.1 'The Best Man'

“Get ready Cleveland, the last man to screw you this hard then disappear was LeBron James” – Barney

I appreciate that the nature of How I Met Your Mother is the slow reveal of facts and information that lead to the big teases that have been dropped as the show has progressed.

The use of ellipses allows the writers to keep the viewer hanging with revelations from the future, but after six seasons the lack of any sort of any real progression is starting to get frustrating.

I know that the whole notion of the ‘mother’ mystery is nothing more than a MacGuffin to allow the telling of these tales but it does feel more and more as though the writers are taking the Lost approach and rather than building up to the big reveal as the show, inevitably, starts to wind up they are giving us more questions than answers.

The season seven opener ‘The Best Man’ was another example of this technique.

After ending season six on the somewhat of a cliffhanger that Barney gets married at some point in the future – not that much of a cliffhanger when you really think about it – the season seven premiere picked right back up there only to then jump back to the present day and almost entirely ignore the big cliffhanger.

I’m not interested at all, at this point, in who Barney marries unless it’s Robin, as much like Ted’s eventual wife we have no reason to care about whoever it is, should it be someone as yet unseen.

I personally felt though that the scene at the end of the episode with the bride at Barney’s wedding asking to see Ted was the strongest indication yet that the bride was Robin.

It seemed odd that the bride would want to see Ted unless it was one of his best friends. I could of course be way off with that theory, and that could be a trap they wanted viewers to fall in to, as given the time between where we are in the present with the series and the point at which the wedding occurs down the timeline, Ted could very well have become close with the bride. It might even simply be an innocuous meeting as she needs to get a message to Barney but isn’t able to see him.

The amount I’m reading in to that shows how fans of the show will dissect even the smallest line of dialogue so I guess in that sense the show is still doing what it does well.

It doesn’t make the lack of answers any less frustrating however and if I am right about Barney and Robin then putting Barney and Nora together now is just a stalling tactic to maybe pad out the season a bit more.

Given how short Barney and Robin’s previous relationship was there is a lot that could be done with the two of them together so I don’t personally believe that they now need to be kept apart with the end for the show surely looming on the horizon.

‘The Best Man’ did a good job in other quarters of seemingly setting up the season’s main elements – Ted’s increased frustration with being unlucky in love, Robin’s unrequited feelings for Barney and Marshall & Lily’s pregnancy.

For the most part it was a pretty unspectacular episode of How I Met Your Mother. As one would expect, Barney got several decent one liners including the one above about LeBron James, which whilst clichéd was still very funny, and drunk Marshall making an appearance is always welcome.

Other individual moments that I thought worked well were Barney and Robin’s dance number to Deee-Lite’s early 90s classic ‘Groove Is In The Heart’, which was fun, even if it does seem like more and more comedies are calling on elaborate dance sequences for laughs these days.

The teases of how Marshall ruined the wedding were also well done, even if they did make the way he actually ruined it seem kind of lame in comparison.

And I Liked Ted and Robin’s heart to heart on the balcony outside the wedding, as it reminded me of several similar instances from the show’s history, including the wedding at which they ended their relationship at the end of season two.

As I’ve said, ‘The Best Man’ did its job in setting up the general direction of season seven and in doing so provided us with an episode that wasn’t necessarily big on laughs but featured a great deal of the heart and soul that has always been at the core of the show.

Although the more human element underpinning a lot of the ridiculousness on the show stands How I Met Your Mother apart from a lot of other shows of this ilk, with the likes of Happy Endings, which is going from strength and is undisputedly the best new comedy out there, snapping at its heels I certainly feel that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas need to up their game.

That said, even in its less fine hours How I Met Your Mother is still one of the best comedies on TV and I’m glad to have new episodes back on our screens after E4 decided to turn it in to the new Friends by bombarding us with repeats.

A Hail of Bullets:

- Barney’s ‘plays’ in this episode were ridiculous, even by his standards. At least some of the stuff he’s pulled in the past had a modicum of believability, but in what world would “patient zero” or “the escaped manslaughterer” work?

- I mentioned above that the wedding scenes on the balcony had an air of familiarity to them, that’s because it’s the same set right?

- It felt a little shoehorned in, because surely Ted’s wedding breakdowns would have been big news within the gang as well, but did the auto-tune remix of Ted’s breakdowns fail to make anyone laugh? Hats off to Punchy, who’d have thought he had such a creative streak?

How I Met Your Mother Season Seven continues in the UK Thursday @ 9pm on E4


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