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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: 'I'm not ready for this'

January 4, 2011 |  6:46 am


Well, that was a harsh way to start off the new year. Monday' s episode title -– "Bad News" -– was a major giveaway, but I still didn't expect it to be quite so bad.

Bad news for Robin (Cobie Smulders): The host at her new job is Sandy Rivers (Alexis Denisof), her old coworker and onetime date. Sandy remembers it differently, though. He thought they had sex and announced it to the whole office. Robin finally convinced him that they didn't have sex, prompting Sandy to remember the real reason he finds Robin so memorable: She's the reporter who stepped off a carriage and fell into poop. Thus, Robin's new nickname, Scherpoopy -– I admit, it made me giggle -– was born. It got worse. Her new coworkers uncovered what is essentially a Robin Scherbatsky's Most Embarrassing TV Moments clip reel, featuring all my old faves, including the Robin Sparkles videos and the adult diapers commercial, but not the owl attack -- shoot. It was fun to see Robin's greatest hits -– or should I say misses? -– pulled together.

Earlier this season, I pointed out that Robin was amassing quite the embarrassing collection of videos, so it was nice to see that tie back into the story and bite her in the behind a little. Smulders response to her clip reel of embarrassment? "I think that [Robin] has the ability, like all Canadians, I should say, to laugh at ourselves and to not take ourselves too seriously," she told me. She certainly demonstrated that at the end of the episode as she donned her Robin Sparkles jean jacket. And although they're very cute, I have to ask, what's up with the glasses, Robin? Is it a nod to Clark Kent the journalist? Wanting to look more serious and smart at the new job?

Also fun: Denisof's game return as Sandy and the image of him in a bald cap, standing in front of a bear wearing a bra.

Bad news for Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan): Still unable to get pregnant, they went to see a specialist, Dr. Stengel (Neil Patrick Harris). Fittingly, the reproductive specialist turned out to be Barney's (Harris) doppelganger. One guy has a lot of sex with women. The other guy stares at female private parts all day. Like I said, fitting. It took Barney and Dr. Stengel both being in the room during her exam for Lily to believe that Dr. Stengel wasn't Barney. But Barney had to wear what looked like Ted's anti-spoiler goggles from "Monday Night Football."

Lily turned out to be "extremely fertile," so Marshall worried that the problem was him and his little swimmers. Dr. Stangel gave him a cup for a sperm sample, which he took home. Unfortunately, his parents had arrived for a surprise visit. All the talk of his mother's two-piece bathing suit was making it quite difficult for Marshall to make a deposit, so Lily finally forced him to tell his parents the truth about what was going on.

Bad news for Marshall: Just moments after telling his friend his sperm were OK, Marshall learned from Lily that his father had a heart attack. He didn't survive. It was an unexpectedly dramatic twist, but one we should have probably seen coming as soon as the show started featuring Marshall's father more this season. It's the circle of life and the gun in the first act all rolled up into one. (Apparently, there were numbers throughout the episode counting down from 50 to the moment Marshall found out, but I didn't notice.) Though the moment was a bit startling after all the sitcom shenanigans, it reminded me that "Mother" can often be just as heartfelt and real as any one-hour drama. And Segel and Hannigan played the scene beautifully. "I'm not ready for this," Marshall cried as Lily hugged him. No one ever is, Marshall.

Readers, did the ending bring a tear to your eye? Are you enjoying Robin's new job? Want that clip reel for real? And are two NPHs better than one?

— Vlada Gelman


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Photo: Marshall (Jason Segel) visits Dr. Stengel (Neil Patrick Harris). Credit: Monty Brinton / CBS