Monday, November 8, 2010
How I Met Your Mother- "Natural History"
How I Met Your Mother can be a hard show to defend sometimes, especially so after the last few seasons, when its cornball sentimentality was rarely counterbalanced with an adequate number of memorable jokes and its once strong characters acted inexplicably unlike themselves. But last night’s “Natural History” was the first episode in a long time I would feel absolutely confident watching with a neophyte. A newcomer to the series would, I feel, be impressed with the episode’s writing and humor. I’m hopeful that the show can carry this momentum forward, justifying my investment in it further.
The museum setting worked in the show’s favor in multiple ways. First, the ladies looked great in their fancy attire. (Especially Jennifer Morrison, who provided ample ammunition for my continuing argument that she is just as attractive as her recent House co-star Olivia Wilde.) Second, it was great silly fun seeing Barney and Robin violate the “No Touching” rule, capped by Robin’s pun that her penguin companion couldn’t have an hors d’oeurvre because he was “stuffed.” And it was nice seeing Ted cut loose thanks to the architectural marvel that is the museum’s whisper spot.
This was a great Ted episode overall, with his reveling in the news that his activist foe is really a bored trophy wife and poking fun at the oblivious fat cats at the GNB ball. (Loved Ted’s lines to the monocle-wearer: “Good luck killing James Bond!” and “Tell me, do they cost half as much as glasses?”) And he also nailed the emotional stuff that makes HIMYM what it is, defending Zoe to her husband even after she’s caught him mocking GNB on tape, and then awkwardly assuming Zoe was inviting him to dance. It’s pretty certain Jennifer Morrison isn’t the mother, so in some sense it’s exasperating to think they might have Ted embark on another long-term non-mother relationship, but on the other hand it would be fairly bold for a show to have it’s romantic hero involved in the dissolution of someone else’s marriage. On balance, I’ll allow Jennifer Morrison to stick around, as long as they keep putting her in dresses like last night’s.
As for the other sentimental notes in “Natural History”, I enjoyed how the writers connected the museum into Marshall and Lily’s argument over his career. I also liked that the writers know the characters well enough that neither character is totally wrong or totally right. And Neil Patrick Harris showed some fine dramatic chops after the out-of-left-field resolution to his past as a museum-exhibit-toucher.
If you’d given up on How I Met Your Mother I think you should strongly consider giving last night’s episode a view on Hulu. You might recognize why you bothered with the show in the first place.