“How I Met Your Mother” SnapCap: Two New Episodes, No New Answers


I hope those terrified looks aren’t an indication of the entire season

Last night, we were treated to not one, but TWO new episodes of How I Met Your Mother – and, despite one major surprise (I’ll get to that later), the show didn’t break new ground. The one thing I have learned from the past six seasons of this show is that the writers are good at keeping us invested in this guessing game. Ultimately, the HIMYM has become the Lost of half-hour sitcoms, but instead of a mysterious island, the audience is trying to crack the code of the mysterious mother.

When we last left the HIMYM gang, Ted (Josh Radnor) just broke up with his girlfriend and was on his way to being a great architect, Lily and Marshall (Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel) just found out they had a baby on the way, Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is toying with the idea of monogamy with a girl named Nora (Nazanin Boniadi) while Robin (Cobie Smulders) looks on, stifling her feelings for him.

At the very end of Season Six, we flash-forwarded to Barney’s wedding and – surprise – we don’t know who the bride is. In the Season Seven opener titled “The Best Man,” Ted and Barney are chatting at the mystery wedding and they decide to reminisce about the wedding of Ted’s obnoxious friend Punchy. At the wedding, Lily and a very drunk Marshall try to keep their baby news on the downlow while Barney distracts himself from a life without Nora, while Robin continues to stifle.

“The Best Man” was a soft open to the season and didn’t give us anything substantial to gnaw on. However, in the second episode, “The Naked Truth,” the story begins (or so it seems) to unfold. Ted’s quest for a mate takes the forefront. He uses his cover story in New York Magazine as date-bait and jumps head first in the dating pool.

While he tries to deal with that, Marshall gets word of a job opportunity at a big-time environmental law firm headed by Garrison Cootes (Martin Short). The one thing standing between him and this job is a background check – which he stresses about for the entire episode. Then there’s Barney’s attempt to rekindle the fire between him and Nora – who is playing hard to get. Because of this, Robin continues to – you guessed it – stifle her feelings for him.

So how did the two-episode season opener fair on the AfterElton’s SnapCap scale?

“The Best Man”

“The Naked Truth”

Beefcake

There really isn’t any sign of beefcake-ness in the first episode of the season opener – unless you count Marshall licking Lily’s pregnant belly for luck. But I think that’s a bit of a stretch. However, in “The Naked Truth,” Jason Segel drops trou – and that’s a lot of beef.

Heart/Drama

Another good thing that HIMYM is good at is balancing heart with comedy. In “The Best Man,” all the emotion is invested in the Robin/Barney dynamic. At one point, Barney gets a surprise call from Nora and Robin is clearly hurting. Since Barney is a man-slut, he doesn’t know how to handle “feelings” so Robin, with an apprehensive heart, coaches him in how to win Nora back. It’s very Cyrano de Bergerac – without the long nose.

In “The Naked Truth,” the heart and drama are elevated when Barney, in ridiculous romantic protest, sits in a diner until Nora takes him back. Then, at the very end of the episode, while Ted is at the Architecture Ball, he sees a blast from his past (spoiler alert ahead): Victoria (Ashley Williams), his cupcake-making ex-girlfriend – who we all thought was LOOOOONG gone. Things just got interesting.

AfterElton Bait

Besides NPH’s involvement in the show, AfterElton bait is sparse in these two episodes. However, there is an awkward, albeit sweet, dance routine by Robin and Barney set to the timeless gay classic, “Groove is in the Heart” by Dee-Lite.

Barney and Robin get hot on the dance floor

Humor

The show seems to be leaning more towards the drama as of late – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of laughs. The writers have a way with words – coining clever terms and phrases (most of them for Barney) like “Revertigo,” “G-CWOK” (Gay Couple Without Kids), “Suit Up!,” and, of course, “LEGEN…wait for it…DARY.”

In “The Naked Truth” Marshall calls himself “Beercules” in an incriminating online video where he is drunk and naked. For some reason, seeing Jason Segel naked always gets a good chuckle. NPH does his best to maintain the freshness of Barney’s misogynistic and inappropriate humor – but Cobie Smulders has been stealing the show as Robin. She’s like Jennifer Aniston‘s Rachel Green in Friends – but a lot more self-deprecating, funnier and Canadian. Plus, have you seen the videos of her as Robin Sparkles?

Production Values/Acting

They were smart for giving us a double scoop of HIMYM. The first episode was a good set-up for the second. “The Best Man” was somewhat disappointing, but it was a merely an amuse bouche to “The Naked Truth,” hence making a solid season premiere. For seven seasons, the cast has maintained a strong dynamic, but Smulders and NPH make the Robin and Barney chemistry the most interesting of them all. It’s going to be interesting to see where they go this season.

Segel and Hannigan come in second with their portrayal as a the “cool” married couple amongst friends, while Radnor’s Ted tends to grate on my nerves like Sarah Jessica Parker did in the final season of Sex and the City. It’s a good thing he has the others around him to keep him interesting.

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