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True confession: If I appeared at a comedy open-mike night, my act would be very much like Marshall's fish list.  By which I mean it would be a list of some sort.  Because I'm a sucker for lists.  I find them hilarious, suspenseful, moving, and supremely satisfying.

And that's why tonight's episode recap really could start and end, for me, with Lily, Marshall, and Barney's guesses about the Canadian celebrity, unusual collectible, and sex act involved in Robin's sex-with-a-celebrity story.  Nothing they could have done with this idea could be any funnier than the bare list items themselves, carefully arranged according to the comedy rule of three.  Bryan Adams, baseball cards, the Greasy Kayak.  Wayne Gretsky, vintage Hot Wheels, the Squatting Eskimo.  Kiefer Sutherland, souvenir shot glasses, the Sticky Flapjack.  Alex Trebek, beanie babies, the Musty Goaltender.

There was a plot surrounding the gang's inspired guesses, and while it wasn't terrible, it seemed designed primarily to set up the idea of Ted working for himself.  Bilson at Goliath National Bank kills the headquarters project that Ted was supposed to be lead architect on.  And he gives the job of informing Ted to Barney and Marshall, who can't bring themselves to do it.  So instead of telling him, they hire janitors, lunch ladies, and crazy street musicians as a pretend headquarters design task force, and Ted's ideas about Zen roof gardens and natural light go over big with the fakers.  Inevitably, though, Ted finds out that the project has been canceled and confronts Barney and Marshall on their deception.  (But not until after their fake softball team lets Ted score the game-winning walk, and he makes a hilarious come-on to the monolingual Hispanic lunch lady Louisa: "Sooooo, what are we going to do about [finger circles encompassing the two of them] thiiiisss?")

To make up for their lies, Barney and Marshall get Ted the job of creating an ETR (Employee Transition Room — okay, firing chamber) on the twentieth floor.  When Ted shows up with a plan to make the spartan room into a new beginnings suite complete with rebirth chamber and grief counselor, Bilson takes him to the eighteenth floor ETR and fires him.  Which is why Ted gets fired from his architectural firm.  Which is why he's going to start his own firm.  (Amid the cheers of the gang, Barney proffers an upbeat "In this economy?")  And we have moved on to the masterplot details for the rest of the season, Ted-wise.


But back to those lists.  Lily cleverly changes the order so the sex act comes second, for the sole purpose of improving the comic possibilities of Rick Moranis, the Reverse Rick Moranis, antique Judaica.  Anyone from the band Rush, superhero lunchboxes, a Montreal Meat Pie.  And the eventual answer?  The Frozen Snowshoe, Old King Clancy, Harveys trays.

Anyone else wish the repeat HIMYM that followed this unusually scheduled episode consisted solely of more of these?  Or is it just me?


Grade: B

Stray observations:

- I know you all went to canadiansexacts.org ("it's not for profit — they really just want to get the information out there").  But for those of you watching without your laptops handy, it's a couple of screens verifying that you are over 18 ("23 in the Maritime Provinces") before a list of sex act links ("Two Girls, One Stanley Cup") that all take you to variations of an error message featuring Alan Thicke.


- Bilson and the other GNB executives are really having to cut back because of the economy, meaning "a lot of tough choices to make at the bi-quarterly retreat in St. Croix."

- "Bass.  This guy over here knows what I'm talking about."

- Cobie's bump doesn't seem to need any more concealment than provided by the booth.  But Alyson's requires a laptop to be open in front of her for most of the episode.


- Harvey's iconic orange trays.  Over 12,000 served!

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