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July 28, 2014

How I Met Your Mother: Slap Bet

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 20th 2006 9:45PM
How I Met Your Mother(S02E09) Holy living crap, was that a funny episode or what? I laughed hard during most of it, something that I only seem to do during The Office, Scrubs, and early Simpsons episodes. God, it was all so good: The slap bet, and the resulting payments on both sides; Marshall and Lilly enthusiastically telling each other about every mundane detail of their days; Barney's "Ohh..." moments; Robin's elaborate (and classy!) lies about her nonexistent Canadian marriage; the flashback to thirty seconds before the first slap...

... But the best part of the entire episode came at the end, when Robin revealed her dirty little secret, one that she didn't want anyone to know, including her beloved boyfriend Ted...

... Robin was a teenage pop star in Canada!

Well, you kind of knew the secret was coming, given our on-set coverage of the show and some of the clues from the ads. But the spoilers or semi-spoilers didn't make it any less funny. In fact, what made the whole thing even better is that whatever you might have been thinking while watching "Robin Sparkles" dance and lip-synch to "Let's Go to the Mall," one of the characters likely ended up asking it eventually:

Marshall: This was in the Nineties... why does this look like it's from 1987?
Robin: Because the Eighties didn't come to Canada until like '93.

Barney: Did you have to laugh like that every time?
Robin: (sheepishly) Yes.

Seeing Robin bounce around in that big blond wig, the acid-washed denim jacket and skirt, the leggings, dancing with that robot, saying "aboot" and that a boy has "hair like Gretzky" (or was it "hair like Wayne"?) was soda-snorting funny. I almost wished they showed her coming out of a locker on You Can't Do That On Television. I've got to tell you, if I had to spend a year doing that living on "Orange Julius and Wetzel's Pretzels," I'd be afraid of the mall, too.

As great as the video was, the slap bets generated the biggest laughs. Because neither Marshall or Barney was right -- Robin was neither married nor did she do porn -- they just ended up spending the episode slapping the hell out of each other. And while Barney prefers short, staccato slaps (that make Marshall cry), I prefer Marshall's method, which is to rear back and put all his weight into the slap, and do so at the least expected times. "Your hands are enormous," says Barney after the first slap. "Dude, what did you expect?" responds Marshall. "You've seen my penis." And Lilly made a very worthy slap bet commissioner, coming up with the ingenious "ten slaps now or five at any time until eternity" punishment for Barney's premature eslapulation. Why Barn chose the "five until eternity," I'll never know (I agree with Ted and not Robin, I guess).

Hm... what else? Ohhhh.... forgot about the Best Barneyism, which was the fatal "Ohh..." moment, or the moment that a woman says something so heinous to a guy that it completely changes how he sees her (and you respond by saying, "Ohh..."). My favorite? "I just turned 30." Second best Barneyism was "Porn... wait for it... ography!"

More stuff:
  • The mall with the fictional 500th Sharper Image store? Willowbrook Mall, which is a real mall in Wayne, NJ. It also happens to be the "home mall" of the Keller family, as both Rich and myself worked and shopped there in our formative years.
  • I liked how, when they flashed back to Robin mentioning "this friend in Canada who got married way too young," Lilly had her old lighter hairdo. Nice little detail there by the director, or script coordinator, or whoever thinks of these things.
  • Marshall's reason for not ever visiting the Pacific Northwest? He's afraid of Sasquatch. Or, according to him, not afraid, but always aware.
  • Nice to see them turn back to Ted and Robin's relationship for a week. And I like the fact that the revelation didn't really turn out to be earth-shattering. Even when we thought for a short time that Robin was married (a "Canadian marriage" that didn't count, according to Lilly), it wasn't one of these big dramatic "we were on a break!" moments. Contrast that to Richie and Lina on the episode of The Class that followed this and you'll see how differently this was treated.
  • You can see the entire video for "Let's Go to the Mall" at Robin Sparkles' very own MySpace page.
  • Third favorite Barneyism: "It's slap o'clock." Fourth favorite: "It's obvious that their universal health system doesn't cover breast implants."
I think I got everything. I didn't think the guys could top "Swarely," but they did in spades. The fact that two hilarious and memorable episodes came so close together shows that HIMYM is on its way to becoming something special. When I can do show reviews almost from memory, that's a sign that the jokes are sticking in my head. And pretty much this entire review was done from memory. Good job, guys...

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Deez

forget "the best episode yet," this was one of the best half hour comedy network shows i can remember, ever.

November 21 2006 at 6:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Hadley

I liked it but, as a Canadian, I would've liked at least a couple slightly less stereotypical jokes. I was kinda going "Oh yeah...she said aboot...oh, and Wayne Gretzky, and Canada Day...ha...yeah...that's funny...". I mean, I know they've gotta write it for an American audience, but come on, just hire on Canadian writer or get one Canadian friend for the episode to give you something a little more clever! At LEAST they could've picked two Canadian mall shops to have her eat out of on her tour. Tim Horton's should've been mentioned at least once! I don't know. I guess I've come to expect such high quality writing from HIMYM (and don't get me wrong, no complaints otherwise) I was really hoping they'd give me something more clever than the same jokes every American show has been making for the last 10-15 years...

...and I would REALLY like to see a porn where a girl is doing a Mountie on a Zamboni...cause I'd probably just laugh my ass off.

Eh.

November 21 2006 at 6:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sol

What about the look on Marshall's face when Robin mentioned the Mrs. Fields' giant cookie as the wedding cake? Then his face when Lily said they weren't gong to have it at their wedding? Too funny!!

November 21 2006 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wayne

I watched it five times last night, and I'm still on it today. Couldn't stop laughing. I've got the lyrics (most of them anyway, let me know if I missed anything) here: http://tvcomedies.about.com/od/howimetyourmother/a/robin_sparkles.htm

Your recap is right on the money. It was a very quotable episode. How about "I've been practicing on a tree."

November 21 2006 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

As someone who lived through the 80s in all their glory (and, dammit, I still miss them), I have to say that "Robin Sparkles"' Tiffany-esque video was so spot on that I was gasping. Smulders' ability to evoke classic 80s pop video dance moves was uncanny. That was GENIUS.

And the whole episode? Just got better and better and better. The slap bet? Astonishing. I was in pain I was laughing so hard. But I agree--I would SO have taken 10 now over 5 whenever: the constant fear is going to be debilitating. This should be GREAT.

November 21 2006 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andy Greco

I don't mean to sound like an old foagie, mind you i'm 17, but I am amazed that CBS can get away with all the sexual innuendos at 8 pm "primetime family tv time" I love this show but its been getting worse in that category, not as sexual as 2 and a half men but still, its getting really realyl sexual. I remember when the show first started it wasn't this sexual and it was funny, i wonder why they have pumped up the sexual jokes? I love the show but at 8 PM with little kids watching...come on. I used to watch this with my little sister and mom, but they can't anymore because its gotten so sexual. Is anyone else bothered by this?

November 21 2006 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
smikwily

Just visited the Robin Sparkle's MySpace page and one of the friends listed is Tiffany :)

HIMYM is up there on my favorites list and continues to climb. I remember not watching many sitcoms, but with The Office, Scrubs (come on already!), My Name Is Earl, and a few others, my "dramas" are starting to slip.

November 21 2006 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
nick

Peronsally, I like Alanis' Emotion Away song a little better

http://youtube.com/watch?v=AnPuWbgakDI

and it was the first thing that came to mind while watching the show last night, which by the way, is the first time I've ever caught the show. It was hilarious!

November 21 2006 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve

I thought that was the greatest most hilarious episode yet. Though they did make a lot of jokes at the expense of Canadians. It was such a funny episode that I must forgive them for it.


November 21 2006 at 8:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KMF

That was the best episode yet! Just when I think they couldn't top themselves each episode and along comes Robin Sparkles! I loved it! The slap bet too, Barney flinching when Marshall reaches for his soda. That was hilarious. Lilly being a consciencious slap bet commissioner and being so anxious about it. Yeah best Barney moment next to the massive slap by Marshall, "I just turned 30." "Oohhhh."

November 21 2006 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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