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October 10, 2015

How I Met Your Mother: The Third Wheel

by Joel Keller, posted Oct 9th 2007 1:46AM
How I Met Your Mother: Third Wheel
(S03E03) To all the members of the fairer sex who are reading this review, I will let you in on a little secret: every breathing straight male on this planet wants to ride the tricycle.

There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it: the dream of being with two women is one of the things that keeps us breathing and makes us feel alive. Few of us ever get to ride the trike, and those that come close often buckle under the pressure ("I'm not an orgy guy," Jerry said in the face of "the ménage" on Seinfeld). But to even get a chance? That's what Wild Ted Mosby faces in this episode. And, while it wasn't as funny as it could have been, one thing saved it: The Belt.

The thought of The Belt flashing though Ted's head (and earlier, Barney's) generated some big laughs. Just the idea that Ted and Barney not only created a mythical championship for the first person to achieve a threesome, but that Barn actually went out and bought a boxing-style championship belt, is what elevates this story just slightly above all the other threesome stories we've seen in Sitcomville over the years (and there have been quite a number of them, haven't there?). As I said before, the pressure that a guy can put on himself in this situation can be overwhelming; it even consumed the great Barney Stinson, who choked like the Mets and used wine spillage as an excuse to go. But Ted? How would he do? We'll get back to that in a second.

(Oh, and why wasn't this episode called "The Belt"? They only mentioned "The Third Wheel" fleetingly, before Ted realized that they were into the threesome. Maybe naming it "The Belt" would have given something away.)

Remember how I bitched and moaned about stunt casting and how it distracts from the show? Well... let's just say that the stunt casting works well when the guests are Danica McKellar (reprising her role as Trudy, first seen in "The Pineapple Incident" two years ago. I guess they figured out how to work around the fact that Ted said he never heard from her again) and Busy Philipps. Boy, I forgot how sexy Busy can be, with that lisp of hers... she doesn't quite reach those heights when she's got her hand in a sucking chest wound on ER, does she? Now, as much as I like seeing Trudy back, I just have one question: do Bays and Thomas have more in store for her than just a fleeting threesome? There's a backstory there, and I can't imagine they brought Danica back just for this episode; I hope not, as I think she's going to play a big part in the journey Wild Ted takes to find "the mother."

Speaking of that: Whether Ted actually went through with the threesome or not (and Barney was going nuts trying to find out at the end, didn't he?), even the fact that he told the lead-up story to his kids seems a bit... unseemly, even compared to some of the stories Old Ted has told his kids over the years. I mean, really... do you want to know about that time that your dad hooked up with two chicks? Didn't think so; the thought alone would make me cry in my Cheerios on a daily basis.

Barney had a lot of good moments in this episode, despite the fact that he didn't leave the confines of the Ted/Marshall/Lily abode. The Best Barneyism has to be his step-by-step instructions that would lead Ted to tricycle nirvana, from the tequila and the smoking jacket to the foot massage (with grandma references... it's good to look like a caregiver) to the speech about not denying the joy, it shows how depraved and ingenious ol' Barn is. Fortunately, Ted didn't need any of that, as the girls got started without him. By the way, I give Bays and Thomas credit for that; I really thought they were going to have the girls leave while Ted got the pep talk from Barney in the bedroom, but they faked us out by having them move to Marshall and Lily's bedroom. Smooth.

As for the other plots... well... that's mostly what made the episode unfunny. The Wii tennis tourney was fun, especially as Marshall settles in by taking off his pants, leading to a couple of good "bangars and mash" type of jokes from Barney (heh... because bangars are sausages...). But it just served as a way to keep Barney, Marshall and Lily in the apartment. The boot sale frenzy? Considering that the fact that Lily's objection to Rachel (Philipps) being her boot thief enemy got about five seconds' worth of consideration (let's just say Lil can be bought) really showed how little that complication was needed in the grand scheme of things.

And Robin's hairy dating dilemma? Not good. Not at all good. I mean, having her butter up her legs to shave was kind of funny, but the entire plot could have been sliced out of the episode and no one would have really missed it. It really shows that the writers are having problems trying to figure out how to integrate Robin back into the group post-breakup. So far, it's been painful, leaving Cobie Smulders adrift from the others. I think if they hook her up with Barney, as most fans seem to think is bound to happen, that might rope her back into the fold. I hope they think of something; as I have said, the show works best when the entire group is together, and having Cobie carry entire plots on her own isn't the best of ideas.

This is the best of the three episodes we've seen so far this year, but the season overall still needs to hit its stride. Am I disappointed at this slow start? A little. But I have faith in Carter, Craig, and their crew that they'll get up to speed soon. They'd better, because if The Big Bang Theory is getting more viewers than they are, that's not a very good sign.

Oh, by the way, CBS has been posting weekly "How It Really Happened" footage on the show's website. I'm sure they'll have some good extended scene from this episode, as well.

How do you think this season of HIMYM is going so far?
Loving it393 (56.4%)
It's OK195 (28.0%)
I'm disappointed but hopeful97 (13.9%)
I'm done with the show12 (1.7%)

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I know the format of the show is that he tells these stories to his kids, but I don't actually recall any voiceover on the episode (I was wondering the same thing about whether the same guy that tried to convince his kids not to have sex until marriage "or maybe even a couple years after that" would also tell them he even had the opportunity to ride the trike).

Anyhow, it seems like they might have ditche the narration for this episode (since it's CBS) and just left it up to the viewer to decide whether it was or was not a story he told to his kids.

October 11 2007 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Robin's date (real name Neil Jackson) was also the main villain of the Spike TV series, Blade The Series, that ran last summer on the Spike TV cable network. He played Marcus Van Sciver, the head of the House of Chthon, the main vampire group on the show.

The premier of the show came out on DVD a month or so ago or you can download the full series in a per episode cost on the XBox 360 Live Marketplace.

October 10 2007 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Thanks. I was starting to think no one would respond.

October 10 2007 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The song was "Passenger Side" by Wilco. Ted used listening to the new Wilco CD as an excuse to get the women to his apartment. However, "Passenger Side" is from Wilco's first CD from 1994, "AM", and not from there new CD released earlier this year.

Several of Wilco's songs are also featured in the current Volkwagen tv campaign.

October 10 2007 at 2:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

THANK YOU, Cold Chilli. It was driving me nuts where I'd seen him before. The best I could come up with was Stargate SG1. The CSI credit doesn't show up on IMDB or TV.com yet.

I liked the episode. I agree that they need to find something to do with Cobie and fast. I like her, but showing us how she's dating and moving on isn't what the show is about.

October 09 2007 at 11:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Perhaps "The Third Wheel" referred to the fact that you can't have a tricycle without a third wheel!! What began as awkward, ended as awesome - classic HIMYM

October 09 2007 at 11:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you haven't seen this week's installment of "How It Really Happened" over on CBS.com, I suggest you do...

October 09 2007 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maybe they (writers, producers, etc.) know that Robin is floundering in terms of storyline and maybe that's why they DID name the episode The Third Wheel. Think about it. Her storyline was the Third Wheel of storylines!

Anyways, again not the best episode, but it still had me laughing.

And as for continuity, yes Barney said he was in a ten-way but are we really suppose to believe everything he says about his sex life? Barney Stinson? Seriously?

October 09 2007 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Busy Phillips is hot? Really? Because when Lily said to choose, the choice was obvious: One is a horse-face with a thick trunk, and the other one is Danica effing McKellar.

Maybe it was the fact that she was standing next to a truly beautiful woman, but Busy looked anything but hot to me. She looked like the sorority chick who you'd do if everyone else left the party already and you were half in the bag.

October 09 2007 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Robin pulled a Ross Geller too with slippery antics in the bathroom. A classic scene in Friends. A painful memory for HIMYM.
Hope she finds her way.

October 09 2007 at 3:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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