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July 28, 2014

'How I Met Your Mother' Season 6, Episode 18

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 1st 2011 12:00AM
Barney gets slapped on 'HIMYM' - 'A Change of Heart'['How I Met Your Mother' - 'A Change of Heart']

A repeated mantra in my reviews over the years is that I feel that certain episodes "should have been funnier" than they were. What does that mean? Well, it means that the stories in the episode sounded like they'd be fun to watch and were told in a clever way, but the laughs just didn't land. It's a frustrating state to be in as a viewer, because the episode doesn't stink, it's just not providing the belly laughs that it should have.

That's what we got tonight. Barney's behavior with Nora, and all the hits he took from Lily, should have generated more than a chuckle. Even the silly story of Robin's new boyfriend "Scooby," who acts more dog than human, could have had the potential to be funny. But neither really was.

That doesn't mean, though, that the episode wasn't satisfying. And you can thank Barney and his repressiveness for that.

If any sitcom character had an easily discernible psychological profile, it's Barney Stinson. He desperately wants to settle down with someone special, but he doesn't want to seem vulnerable. It's not hard to see why: he didn't know his father, and his mother slept around with a different man every year -- that's how he got a half-brother that looks like Wayne Brady. He doesn't want to commit because he doesn't want to get hurt.

It's the reason why he couldn't commit to Robin, but at the time she was also a commitment-phobe, so the pain wasn't as great. Nora, though, wants the works: marriage, children, grandkids, growing old with her husband. He wanted it; he endured a couple of slaps and an elbow to the chest from Lily, as well as a stern "goodbye" from Nora in order to get to the place where he was ready to break his "one rule" that wasn't even superseded by her hotness.

But he got to the door where Nora was meeting with her parents, and he just ... couldn't ... do it.



The disappointment and sadness on Barney's face -- kudos to Neil Patrick Harris -- was palpable, especially as it was contrasted with the fantasy version of Barn actually manning up, and admitting that he was willing to face all that scary stuff with Nora. "I want to be confused with you."

Here's the interesting thing, though: In the span of three episodes, we saw more romantic chemistry between Barney and Nora than Ted had with the last three multi-episode girlfriends he's had, including Zoey. It could be because Barn just doesn't fall very often, or it's just that NPH is doing a better job of conveying the emotions involved. But when I saw Barney standing at that restaurant door, crestfallen, I really felt for the guy.

Let's take a moment to talk about Robin and "Scooby." Look, this isn't exactly a new story: there was a b-plot on a 'Seinfeld' episode where Kramer started acting like a dog after taking canine medication for a cough (long story). So seeing a guy obey commands, fetch, pee on hydrants and stick his head out of cab windows wasn't exactly high comedy. But there was some cleverness there, like when Ted, Lily and Marshall just let loose a string of well-phrased dog puns to Scoob, just to get Robin annoyed. It was so effective that she inadvertently joined in: "Would you stop hounding him?"

More fun stuff:

-- Suzy Nakamura, who played the cardiologist, seems to play a doctor a lot. At least she got to slap Barney this week.

-- Anytime Barney gets slapped is fun to watch, because NPH commits to the slap so thoroughly, spinning around and going to his knees after the slap lands.

-- "I only have one rule" is the Best Barneyism of the week, mainly because the writers decided to make fun of something Barney has said since day one on the show. Favorite? "if you're going to have sex in a Port-a-Potty, do it early in the day."

-- I could swear we've heard Marshall refer to himself as 'Big Fudge' before. Either way, it seems to fit well, doesn't it?

'How I Met Your Mother' airs Mondays at 8PM ET on CBS.

Follow @joelkeller on Twitter and on Facebook.

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tony

What I was trying to say was this. With this show you don't need to laugh a minute

March 01 2011 at 6:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tony

I don't sometimes with this show you need to laugh a minute. This show has always had a heart warming feel to it.

March 01 2011 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ceti

I liked the return of "sandwiches".

March 01 2011 at 5:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ceti's comment
Joel

I forgot to mention Scooby's huge bag of sandwiches, and this exchange: Ted: "We're in our 30s. We're too old to smoke sandwiches." Marshall: "So, sandwich brownies?" Ted: "Yeah."

Also loved the dirt Barney had on each member of the gang, even Ted, who seemed to be OK with going to an 'NSYNC concert, among other transgressions. I feel Marshall's calzone shame, though.

March 01 2011 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roman

Big Fudge was Marshalls skee-ball nickname(although i think it might have been mentioned at other times).

March 01 2011 at 4:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Roman's comment
Joel

Thanks for that. I knew I remembered it from somewhere.

March 01 2011 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roman

Personally i thought that barney + nora felt totally fake and she was just a bad substitute for Barneys repressed feelings of wanting to get back together with Robin(especially because how Robin pushed him into it).

March 01 2011 at 4:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacie

I also disagree. I actually laughed out loud several times during the episode. I think the B-plot with Robin's boyfriend acting like a dog was very clever. From fetching the keys, to getting distracted by the juke box, very smart stuff.

Barney's storyline was very touching and very funny. I think this was Alyson Hannigan's best episode. She is at her best when she gets into that alpha controlling role. She's done it with Ted and his love life and she did it here with Barney. I know that this show has been hit or miss often the past couple seasons but I definetly feel this episode hit.

Also did anyone else notice that Nora was like the perfect person for Ted? First she was just like Ted as in she wants the marriage, kids, picket fence all that, she told Barney of this very early on, as in first date, (like Ted did with Robin), she's a romantic, and on top of that she loves Brunch. We learned early on that Ted loves brunch. What I said doesn't mean much in the scheme of the mother, but I thought it was kind of interesting to point out.

March 01 2011 at 1:16 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Michael

As always we disagree. I think this has been a great season all around.

March 01 2011 at 12:37 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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