Monday, November 14, 2011
How I Met Your Mother: "Tick Tick Tick"
Tick Tick Tick is an episode which has a little something for everyone, by which I mean it contains ample evidence for both people who love the show and people who hate the show.
Let's get the hate-worthy material out of the way. Stoner humor is generally too easy to generate genuine laughter, and tonight's Ted-Marshall "sandwich" plot was several degrees too silly and nonsensical. The last second reveal, which was itself pretty funny, came too late to redeem the forgettable plot. The idea that stoned Marshall and Ted are incapable of even reading the sign to the women's restroom was pathetic.
But Tick Tick Tick was redeemed by the emotional stuff. The show did a remarkable job of portraying the aftermath of Barney and Robin cheating on their partners with each other. It's pretty rare that a show is willing to confront its main characters doing something morally dubious. Which is why I thought for sure both characters would confess before the end of the episode. The fact that they had Barney step up and do the hard thing, while Robin did not, shows that they have ideas in mind about how to develop this storyline.
The writers also cleverly portrayed Robin's decision in terms that make her decision, probably disappointing to so many fans, extremely understandable. Robin's lack of self-confidence led her to ask both Barney and Kevin the same question: "Why do you even like me?" Barney's answer and Kevin's answer were very different, with Barney liking her for being messed up like him and Kevin not believing that she is messed up. It's an interesting divergence, and a legitimate question as to which is better.
Curiously, the attempts at comedy in this plot also felt forced. Sandy Dennis is too cartoonishly evil to be believable in the world of the show, though it was nice to see him get a drink thrown at his face (if not in his face.) Thus we had an episode that was extremely light on actual laughs but was carried through on the strength of its characters and emotional insight. Unusual for a sitcom, but that's How I Met Your Mother all over.