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'How I Met Your Mother': Going to the smoon

November 16, 2009 |  9:38 pm
98604_FOX_0241b After a somewhat disappointing and heavy breakup episode last week, “How I Met Your Mother” went back to basics for “The Playbook.” It was a fun, mostly stand-alone episode showcasing Barney's (Neil Patrick Harris) womanizer ways. The episode did have much in the way of plot advancement. It was mostly a series of edited together vignettes, but the show is always funniest when it's presenting a set of rules for dating or life – Lemon Law, anyone? – made up by Barney.

Rebounding from their breakup last week, Robin (Cobie Smulders) throws herself into work, while Barney throws himself into “every woman in New York City,” including miltswancas (Mothers I'd Like to Sleep With and Never Call Again). I found it a little odd and hurtful that Barney reverted back to his old ways so quickly and intensely even though he and Robin had just broken up. I don't expect him to be a monk, but he was flaunting it right in front of her. Robin seemed to be constantly getting up and leaving.

The episode introduced Barney's “Playbook,” a book of cons, hoodwinks, gambits and hustles for tricking women into sleeping with him. How much you want to bet this book will be on bookshelves next year? Maybe they could even rush it in time for men to prey on those lonely, vulnerable hearts on Valentine's Day.

My favorite play was The Mrs. Stinsfire, in which Barney infiltrates a sorority as a Mrs. Doubtfire-like house mother. The costume was perfect and Harris' high-pitched “Hello!” sounded so much like Robin Williams.

The elaborate Lorenzo von Matterhorn was also another favorite. Lorenzo is a fictional, adventurous, rich businessman, complete with made-up websites and articles created by Barney. There was even a real Wikipedia entry for him at one point, which was deleted when Wikipedia realized it was for the show, not a real person. The play works so well, Barney steals away Shelly, Lily's (Alyson Hannigan) three-years-in-the-making setup date for Ted (Josh Radnor). Shelly, by the way, was played by Eva Amurri (daughter of Susan Sarandon), who I adored in “Saved!” She also has a role on the current season of Showtime's "Californication." As she's a coworker of Lily's, here's hoping we may see her again.

Other highlights from “The Playbook”: The SNASA (Secret NASA that goes to the smoon), The He's Not Coming, which made me wonder how different the end of “Sleepless in Seattle” might have been had Barney been at the Empire State Building, and The Ted Mosby, which included plaid shirt and sad “I was left at the altar” eyes.

As fantastic as all the plays where, when they got to the My Penis Grants Wishes, I had to agree with Robin. If you're stupid enough to fall for one of these, you're a "smoron."

Thankfully, Barney notices that Robin seems to be genuinely hurt by his behavior, so he gives up on The Scuba Diver and admits that maybe he was overcompensating for his own broken heart. I was a little skeptical of Barney's heartsick confession, but it was nice to see him acknowledge Robin's feelings. But then it's revealed that everything that came before, even getting Lily angry enough to steal the book, was just part of The Scuba Diver plan to make Barney seem vulnerable to a hot blond at the bar.

Readers, do you think Barney is really sorry about hurting Robin's feelings? Which move from “The Playbook” is your favorite? Would you try one of them out? And what did you think of Robin's new co-host Don, who appears to be her new love interest? Is it too soon to have Robin dating too?

– Vlada Gelman (follow my TV musings on Twitter at @stayingin)


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Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) prepares to perform The Scuba Diver. Credit: Karen Neal/Fox