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'How I Met Your Mother' recap: A few of my favorite things

December 13, 2010 |  9:51 pm

Monday night's episode of "How I Met Your Mother" felt like a real turning point for many of the characters. When Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) announced that she was pregnant, it caused the gang to reexamine their lives. For Robin (Cobie Smulders), it meant rethinking her decision to become a hot coin-flip girl on the game show “Million Dollar Heads or Tails,” hosted by Alex Trebek. She decided to take the boring, off-camera research job at World Wide News instead. Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), meanwhile, decided to give his bonus to charity rather than buy a diamond-lined suit. First, he staged his own version of "Oprah's Favorite Things" in the bar. Barney's bellowing/yelling of Oprah voice -- “You get a lap dance! You get a lap dance! Everybody gets a lap dance!” -- was spot-on. And the reaction Barney imagined was perfect and not at all a case of comedy over-exaggeration. If you've ever watched, you know they really are that crazy and over the top. While watching this season's two-part "Favorite Things" episodes, I laughed so much at the audience's reactions that I thought they should make a comedy pilot out of it. Close enough, I guess.

Barney was about to give the rest of his money to the church where James' (Wayne Brady) father worked, but then he got a text from Marshall and Lily that it was false positive. The same text caused Robin to reconsider her decision to take the World Wide News job. “That research job sounds hard. And I'm pretty. I'm really, really pretty,” she thought to herself.

Marshall and Lily were actually relieved not to be pregnant. They'd spent the last day and a half freaking out and manically doing baby prep, which included using bubble wrap to baby proof their apartment. When they announced that maybe they weren't ready to have kids, Ted (Josh Radnor) lost it. He ordered them to go home and get pregnant. He told Barney to return the diamond suit and give the money to charity before announcing to the criminals of New York that Barney was wearing a pants leg that was enough to retire on. And then he laid it on Robin, telling her to take the job she came to New York for, the one she made a New Year's resolution to get. I loved that Ted was the one to set his friends back on their paths. Because Ted is the guy who has his path laid out, but he hasn't found the woman yet who will follow it with him. So while all his friends are living their lives, he's waiting. And when he sees them about to squander what's at their fingertips, he sets them back on track as he longs for what they have and goes to see “It's a Wonderful Life” by himself.

After seeing Ted talk everybody down, Robin realized that maybe he did have it in him to be Punchy's best man. He could handle the groom's doubts. She asked Ted to be her best man, if she ever got married, which set off my alarms. After the season premiere, there was speculation that the future wedding might be Barney and/or Robin's. Then it seemed that it was likely Punchy's, although the show never confirmed that. Now I'm starting to think again that it could be Robin's, maybe even Robin and Barney's, even though he was relieved to be single still while Robin was less than happy about it. But like I said at the beginning of the  recap, this episode marked a turning point. I think the fact that Barney had doubts about the life he was leading was a mature change. He even gave away a bunch of suits to charity!

Speaking of turning points, Robin's big career change is long-deserved. It's realistic that she would eventually move on to a legit career,  but I will miss the comedy that has been her résumé so far and the impossibly perky Becky (Laura Bell Bundy). In a way, Robin's work dilemma has been a lot like Lily and Marshall's pregnancy storyline. You don't want to hamper the show with a child, but you also want to remain honest to the characters' situation. And just as Marshall and Lily realized they were ready for a baby, Robin realized it was time for a new job.

Readers, what did you think of Barney's favorite things? Do you think there's a possibility Ted is playing best man to Robin in the future wedding? Would you like that to be the case? And are you glad Robin has a new job?

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

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Photo: Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), center, introduces his favorite things. Credit: Ron P. Jaffe / Fox