'How I Met Your Mother' recap: First one there...
Any “How I Met Your Mother” fans from New York out there? I think this episode was made for you. For the rest of us, I don't think it was quite as hilarious or wink, wink, nudge, nudge. And it didn't help that New York was clearly a studio lot in Los Angeles. But it's oddly appropriate that an episode challenging whether or not Canadian import Robin (Cobie Smulders) is a real New Yorker aired on Oct. 11, Canadian Thanksgiving. According to the gang, one is not a real New Yorker until they've done all three of these things: 1.) Stolen a cab from someone who needs it more. 2.) Cried in the subway and not given a damn about what other people think. 3.) Killed a cockroach with your bare hands. Seeing Woody Allen is also a requisite, something Robin hasn't accomplished. When Marshall's (Jason Segel) friend spots him in a restaurant, the gang sets off on a race to see who can get there first.
Why he needs the win: Ted (Josh Radnor) found out about a website that lets you rate your teachers. Despite getting 64 positive reviews, he can only concentrate on the one bad review that said he was “boring.” Ted, take it from someone who used those types of sites in college –- that's amazing.
The journey: He begins spouting off random facts about buildings to the other bus passengers until he becomes that one, crazy guy no one wants to sit next to. And when they do, they doze off. Ted wonders if he's so boring he's putting everyone to sleep?
Why she needs the win: Things in the babymaking department aren't going well for Lily (Alyson Hannigan). Erikson men are “hella fertile,” Marshall says, so Lily's worried something's wrong with her. Little Marshall on the pee strip taunting her is also not helping.
The journey: Lily's knack for being able to understand garbled conductor speak comes in handy, but she gets sidetracked when she finds a crying Robin on the subway and stops to comfort her. Then ditches her!
Method: Foot. Marshall thinks he can run seven miles. Ha!
Why he needs the win: Remember the part about the Erikson men being really fertile? Maybe it's Marshall and not Lily.
The journey: Determined to beat the machines, Marshall sets out on foot, with his own folk song -– where do I get an mp3 of “Marshall vs. the Machines”? -– providing the soundtrack for his run. When he passes out from all the running -– not your boring factoids, Ted -– he awakens to a guy dressed in a giant calculator costume. “Ah, the machines have won!” he screams in a priceless Marshall reaction. Lily picks up Marshall in Ranjit's town car and realizes their baby issue have made her so crazy, she left her upset friend in the subway. Getting pregnant isn't a competition, they both agree before coming up with a “cradle list” of things to do before they have a baby. First up, a detour to Coney Island.
Why she needs the win: She's got a new co-anchor, Becky (Laura Bell Bundy), who's so perky, they've made her head into a sun-like logo on the show's posters. Robin feels eclipsed, like everything she's worked for since coming to New York has been for nothing. And when she goes to talk to Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) about it, he brushes her off.
The journey: One by one, Robin does all the things on the gang's list to becoming a real New Yorker. First she steals a cab from a woman, but to be fair, Maury Povich stole her cab first. (Was it just me or did her cab driver look like he was transported from the '70s?) At one point, Robin and Barney end up in Ranjit's town car. Barney's surprised to learn Robin really did have something to tell him earlier and offers to listen this time, but Robin's still upset with him and jumps out of the car. She decides to take the subway instead, but is “eclipsed” by a poster showcasing Becky. She rips the poster down, but it only reveals one of her and Don underneath. Robin begins to cry even though it means her show is at least being advertised, and tells off the other subway passengers, who are staring at her. That's when Lily spots her and tells her she can't leave New York because she loves her and would have to follow her. Then Marshall would follow Lily, and Ted would follow Marshall, but at least they might finally be able to get rid of Barney. After the way he's been treating Robin lately, this kind of sounds like a good idea, but he'll make it up to her like he always does. There's no denying Barney cares about Robin.
Method: Ambulance. It's a bit unconventional, but shrewd.
Why he needs the win: He doesn't. He smells great even after running and peddling.
The journey: Barney orders a steak at a restaurant and then fakes a heartache. After the dumb waiter finally clues in, Barney is taken away in an ambulance, but it's going in the wrong direction from the destination. Barney makes a break for it, calling upon Ranjit's services. Then he switches to pedi-cab, but the bicyclist is too slow, so they switch spots. Eventually, Barney, Ted and Robin converge at the same spot. They all take off, but Barney pretends to trip and tackles Ted. And that's how Barney lets Robin win. In the restaurant, Robin hits it off with Marshall's friend, who's mistaken Maury Povich for Woody Allen, and kills a cockroach with her hand on the table. It's a classy joint, obviously.
Some other brief thoughts:
-- Marshall waited for the light to turn green? Really? Even I know that no one in New York does that.
-- Between all the running around, I think the cast has completed their exercise for the rest of the year.
-- The running gag of all five of them running across Maury Povich in different places was fun. The guy must have clones. And that must be the biggest honor Povich has received recently.
-- It's always great to see Ranjit, one of the show's best recurring characters, but he felt underused this time. They could have given him more to do than just repeating everyone's lines.
-- I really liked the scenes between Robin and Lily and Robin and Barney, which both had a lot of heart. And it's lovely to see them exploring Robin so much, but I am so ready for something really great to happen to her. She deserves it.
-- All the mentions of cockroaches reminded me of the cockamouse episode from Season 1, which is still one of my favorites. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.
Readers, did you enjoy this episode or do you think you need to be a New Yorker to appreciate it? What do you think of Robin's new co-anchor? I didn't get enough of a feel for her in this episode to form an opinion, but I like Bundy in general. And are you, like me, still getting Robin and Barney vibes from the show?
-- Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)
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Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Ted (Josh Radnor), Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Marshall (Jason Segel) race across the city. Credit: Cliff Lipson / CBS