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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

How I Met Your Mother: "Spoiler Alert"

Illustration for article titled How I Met Your Mother: "Spoiler Alert"
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Illustration for article titled How I Met Your Mother: "Spoiler Alert"

Consider "Spoiler Alert" a palate cleanser — moving along a tiny bit of plot (will Marshall pass the bar and become a real lawyer?) while engaging in another round of Seinfeld-esque girlfriend-of-the-weekism — while we watch slapcountdown.com until next Monday. Slapsgiving, baby; you know it's coming.

So the gimmick is that we get to learn all the annoying habits of the gang, accompanied by the sound of shattering glass. Because their illusions about each other's perfection are being shattered, you see. Except that only really works for the first two — Ted's new flame Cathy's loquaciousness, and Lily's loud chewing. The whole idea is that we don't see the flaws of the people we love (or in Ted's case, the people we want to sleep with). As Marshall put it, "the I-wanna-have-sex-with-her truck has a huge blind spot."

Maybe Marshall's narrating all his actions in song counts as illusion-shattering for Lily — except Lily seemed well aware of its annoying qualities in the flashback to past tuneful check-writing and laundry-carrying episodes. And nobody in the room wants to sleep with Robin, Ted, or Barney so how do their grating habits (using the word "literally" incorrectly, constantly correcting people, and [insert grab-bag of well-known Barneyisms that have never been a secret to anyone anywhere]) shatter anybody's cherished illusions?

Of the selection on display, I admit that I like Ted and Marshall's annoying habits the best, because they seem to fit perfectly with the established characters — a bit of a pedantic know-it-all and a distracted naif, respectively. Lily's I liked the least due to my aversions to extreme close-ups of people's slow-motion mouths and exaggerated foley work. Marshall's nonsense song did segue nicely into the resolution of the B-story, however …

… Which was the tiny bit of plot development mentioned earlier. Marshall forgets his password to get his bar exam results online, and briefly puts his career in the hands of Barney who, as usual, knows a guy with some kind of ultimate haxx0r program that comes on a CD and can be operated by Barney. Seems unlikely, right? Right — it's just the dog pooping on a baby viral video that was the Videocracy champ for six weeks running back in the heady fictional days of early 2007. (I don't think I want to see that, and I doubt I'd find it as cute as the gang seems to.)

Nothing like the mindblowing, genre-bending stuff of the last couple of weeks, in other words. Just a fairly ordinary episode of a good sitcom with a few funny lines and a gimmick that's a bit overdone. The Writer's Guild, in its infinite mercy, has seen fit to grace us with new HIMYM's until the end of the month at least. Can the much-anticipated slapfest to come next week live up to the hype? Speaking as someone who's seen on-set photos of some of the slaps — yes. Yes, it can.

Grade: B

Stray observations:

- Lindsay Price, who guest stars as Cathy, not only has a striking presence on screen, but also does an excellent job with her Ted-flame-of-the-week assignment, especially the line "yeah, I remember when I had a penis."

- Ted: "Why do you think I call her Chewbacca?" Marshall: "I assumed it was because she is loyal, wears shiny belts, and because I resemble a young Harrison Ford."

- Robin wins the clothes contest of the week with her diamond-stitch-pattern low v-neck knit tunic — elegant and flattering. Lily gets flagged for flagrant over-accessorizing with her weird skinny rayon ties.

- Although I was not enamored of the glass-shattering sound effect, the epilogue punched it through with the subtitle — and linked back to our revelation in "How I Met Everyone Else" that Ted knows sign language! Double A-plus on the ending, fellas.