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October 25, 2014

Review: How I Met Your Mother - The Playbook

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 17th 2009 9:40AM
Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother: The Playbook(S05E08) Could it be that, after the whole season five build-up to the Swarkles relationship, everyone would more or less go back to normal by episode eight of season six? It seems that way, and I don't know how I feel about it.

Relationship Barney wasn't that pleasant to watch. Some of his patented awesomeness tried to come through but he was increasingly becoming a content guy, which is no good for comedy. But to see him immediately snap back to the way he was pre-Robin was equally jarring. Maybe that's the way it has to be for Barney ... I don't know. But, as funny as the exploration of Barn's playbook was, it felt like the last two dozen or so episodes never happened.

Oh, and it seems like Robin's quickly moving on too, so it's not all on Barney ...

Like I said, the playbook plot had its merits. Was it the funniest plot Bays and Thomas ever came up with? No. But seeing the various ways Barney uses to scam and flim-flam women into sleeping with him was a hoot to experience. My favorite hoax was not the Lorenzo von Matterhorn scam, though it's complexity was admirable -- so admirable that there was actually a Wikipedia entry for him until the folks there got wind of it and pulled it down (thanks for capturing that, Dave!). But for some reason, the pure dopey simplicity of "The SNASA" was what I laughed at the hardest, especially when Barney told his dippy conquest that he was going to go on a mission to the "smoon."

The extra layer of plot, where the playbook was part of a larger flim-flam called "The SCUBA Diver," was a nice cherry on top. But what that did was kill all the seeming regret Barney displayed to Robin for diving into the dating scene so soon after the break-up. But then again, it's so Barney to do that, isn't it? It's what made Lily say "Youuuuu sonfoabitch" to begin with -- leading to a nice recurring joke -- and you would expect nothing less from Barn. But the suddenness of it is what made the whole Swarkles pairing feel like it was a mistake on the part of the writers rather than something that just ran its course.

On the Robin side, you knew she was going to find someone as soon as Marshall and Ted told her about the legions of friends who found the loves of their lives as soon as they said they were done with dating. Of course, it's one of the most overused axioms of dating -- "You find someone as soon as you stop looking" -- but it's one that made me roll my eyes when I was single. You're always looking, aren't you? Maybe that's why Ted still hasn't met "the mother" yet; he's still looking. Heck, he even admitted as much.

But Robin meeting her new co-anchor and going "Dammit, Marshall," means she's moving on, too, further confirming that Swarkles is being treated more as a mistake than anything else.

Sigh. I don't know, maybe I'll be proven wrong and we'll see Swarkles again. But the break just feels too clean to make it satisfying.

More fun stuff:
  • The Best Barneyism of the week is: "Mothers, lock up your daughters. Daughters, lock up your MILSWANCAs." MILSWANCA = Mothers I'd Like to Sleep With And Never Call Again.
  • I understand why Lily felt it was her duty to wipe the playbook from existence: she saw the "good Barney" during his relationship with Robin and wanted to see it again. But Barney wouldn't be Barney if he wasn't scamming on the ladies, would he?
  • Good to know that Ted tried out "The Ted Mosby" ("I got left at the altar.") and it worked.
  • So even if the playbook itself was part of a scam, the scams are real. Makes you wonder how many hundreds of scams Barney has tucked away in that brain of his.
  • Marshall was impressed by Barn's prolific writing skills (remember, he also wrote The Bro Code), calling him "Stephen King over here."
  • Robin's playbook? Her boobs. "A two-volume set. Right here."
  • Very nice that Marshall got "guest blonde" to join in on the "Hell noooo..." harmonizing.
  • Lily out-scammed the scammer during "The He's Not Coming." But then, we didn't know that the playbook itself was part of a larger scam, so Barn's still got the upper-scamming-hand. But Lily certainly is an up-and-comer in that category.
  • Instead of being stamped as "MARRIED!" one of the couples Ted and Marshall spoke of was stamped as "Entered into a civil union and will get married pending a ruling by the New York State Supreme Court" or something like that. Anyone have the exact phrasing of that?

[Watch clips and free episodes of HIMYM at SlashControl.]

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Martin

No word what so ever about the Robin Sparkles appearance that Alan Thicke mentioned last week :( I was kinda sad about that.

November 17 2009 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrew

The girl who Barney pulled the "von Matterhorn" on was Susan Sarandon's daughter...also known as the stripper from Californication.

November 17 2009 at 1:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank

You know how people have called this a "Girls' Show"?
This review shows why.
Who cares about "the relationship"?
This isn't some epic Lost with grand story arc that need to be fulfilled...

This episode was AWESOME.

November 17 2009 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dkny

Barney is the funny part of the show and he was no longer funny. Realizing that what they were doing wasn't working and fixing it FAST is a sign of maturity and I applaud them for it. The "He's not Coming" was the best for me but nothing will ever match the old man from the future.

November 17 2009 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Dude, how can you say this wasn't a very funny episode? This was easily THE episode of Season 5, right behind Slapsgiving in my opinion. HIMYM finally got back to what makes the show work - awesome Barney. And Robin's moving on too, so everything's going back to normal. Now if they could just stop giving Marshall really stupid lines (I don't remember what he said when they were all going through the Play Book, but it literally made me roll my eyes) and make Ted not such a douche, this show will return to its former glory in no time.

November 17 2009 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David's comment
Joel Keller

Didn't say it wasn't funny; it was one of the better eps of the season, funny-wise.

I just think that bringing things back to the old Barney and Robin so suddenly makes what we saw from most of season five up until now feel like it's a Bobby Ewing "it was all just a dream" kind of thing.

November 17 2009 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael Wise

"CIVIL UNION AND PLANNING TO GET MARRIED PENDING THE PASSAGE OF LEGISLATION CURRENTLY ON THE FLOOR OF THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE!" - QUOTE MARSHALL

November 17 2009 at 10:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gudlyf

We've got a non-cached version of the shot of Wikipedia, if anyone cares (has Mr. Matterhorn's picture): http://www.cliqueclack.com/tv/2009/11/16/how-i-met-your-mother-and-barneys-back/

November 17 2009 at 10:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patricia

Something along the lines of:
got a civil union, with a marriage pending legislation currently on the floor of the New York senate...

November 17 2009 at 10:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
levydr

Thanks for the hat/tip, Joel!

November 17 2009 at 10:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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