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Band Or DJ? A HIMYM Dilemma

by on January 31, 2013

After coming off its strongest episode of the season in its mid-season finale (something arguably true of last season’s “Symphony of Illumination”), How I Met Your Mother returns for more stall tactics. Now, stall tactics aren’t necessarily a bad thing; in fact, many of the best series make an excellent practice of itImage. But HIMYM isn’t exactly the best series at stalling the inevitable; especially when we know what the inevitable is (The show’s title has been spoiling it for us for nearly 8 years now).

This isn’t to say “Band or DJ” is bad (it’s not; there’s a couple nice jokes and one excellent, touching scene between Ted and Lily), but it’s thoroughly grounded in saying: “trust me, we’re going to get there, and it will be great … but in the meantime, here’s some stories you don’t really care about to kill time”.
The jokes aren’t exactly laugh out loud funny either. There’s some chuckle worthy stuff that’ll put a smile to your face, but very few jokes make you go, “OH MY GOD THAT’S GREAT!” But that’s just par for the course for the show since they introduced Zoey. Which isn’t to say HIMYM suddenly got bad in its 6th season; there was a predictable decline going on at times during the fourth (which has one of the series’ weakest episodes in the form of its finale “The Leap”)  and fifth (Don and Robin’s relationship in hindsight is so very, very pointless and ends incredibly abruptly) seasons. But the 6th season changed my expectations of the show completely. The zippy pace and great jokes weren’t there; the use of narrative perspective and time to make jokes wasn’t as apparent. We got storylines that were so very strange and misplaced: particularly Zoey but also the death of Marshall’s dad (which wasn’t a bad story but came so suddenly, unexpectedly, inorganically and just felt cruel to do to the character). Zoey was the worst aspect of it though: she was a very obvious stalling tactic; very early on we’re told she’s not the one, and the show established a relationship we had no reason to root for and made little sense in the first place with the two so clearly always at odds with one another. Of course I still can’t help but love Jennifer Morrison and as big a HIMYM fan as I am, she will always be Dr. Alyson Cameron for me (House MD? Hugh Laurie? No?).   
So when a comedy series is stalling, it needs to do one of two things: be really damn funny or earn some nice emotional moments. HIMYM hasn’t really been selling me on either. Just look at “Who Wants to Be a Godparent”. It’s Marshall and Lily hosting a game show to determine who will be their kids God-parent, when we know good and well it’ll end up being all three of them in the end; throw in some very obvious, not particularly funny jokes and you can see why all this stalling is deeply unsatisfying. 
So what’s stalling us this week? 
Robin finds out Barney didn’t ask for her father’s permission for marriage, and Barney spends the rest of the episode getting the answer we always knew he’d get (although, it’s eventually with the help of Robin who won’t let her father come to the wedding if he doesn’t accept). I mean, there’s more to it than that, but that’s pretty much the gist to it. 
Ted and Lily fight over who gets to plan Robin and Barney’s wedding. Ted wants a DJ, and Lily a band. But then the band/DJ thing devolves into a weird metaphor for Ted being unhappy about Robin’s engagement. Lily finally gets episodic time dedicated to a story that isn’t involving Marshall or her new baby (something that hasn’t happened in so damn long! Alyson Hannigan can act people. Give her some more material!), in which she gets Ted to admit he still likes Robin (in exchange for her admitting  how having a kid can be frustrating enough at times that she considers leaving).
All in all, we’ve seen worse forestalling the inevitable from this series, and honestly, it was hard to follow up the mid-season finale, so this a good, but not great episode. 

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