How I Met Your Mother, “Legendaddy” (6.19)

At Maclarens, Marshall (Jason Segel) shows the gang his new possum friend Rex.

A review of the latest episode, written by Dan Gregor & Doug Mand, directed by Pamela Fryman and  featuring John Lithgow as a very special character, after the jump…

“This guy has flaked out on your entire life.” – Ted Mosby

When I heard we were going to meet Barney’s dad, I was pretty excited. When I heard John Lithgow was going to play Barney’s dad, I was really excited.

But, despite one really fantastic scene for Neil Patrick Harris, “Legendaddy”, both the episode and character, were… boring.

The A plot, with Barney and his post-awesome dad, was pretty fun. Finding out that Barney’s parents were both like him in their youth, crazy partiers, makes their individual decisions to settle down a nice thematic link to where we see Barney headed. And seeing Barney angry not because his father was boring, but because he doesn’t have a legitimate excuse to have abandoned him (like bein g’too cool’ to be a dad), makes the abandonment so fresh that Harris and Lithgow had a really nice scene near the end, where Barney steals his half-brother’s basketball hoop and gives it to Ted for his new house. That one scene, divorced from the episode around it, was awesome.

But man was it a slog to get through the rest. Partly because the type of awkward humour employed isn’t a style I particularly enjoy (with Barney clearly ignoring every sign that his dad isn’t who he was hoping), and partly because, despite Lithgow being a very good actor, the character of Barney’s dad never really came to life for me. I see why: the character was played as pretty lifeless; a driving instructor whose life is the ultimate nuclear family was framed as the opposite of Barney’s, which has plenty of energy but no soul. But for that to work, I had to be engaged by his dad’s passion for his family… and I wasn’t. And I think part of that lies with the writers, and part of it lies with Lithgow, because there character doesn’t pop even when we see him in what we’re sold as ‘his element’, nor in the earlier ‘awesome’ fantasy.

This was only made worse by the B story, which was typical of Mother B stories in the past few years: its clearly gimmicked, connects only tangentially to the plot and character arcs, and isn’t particularly funny. There was one redeeming moment in the entire plot, and that goes to Alyson Hannigan for her excellent reaction to Rex. Other than that, the moments didn’t add up to anything, and it wasn’t nearly as clever as previous ‘the group has secret flaws’ bits, particularly the one at the centre of the classic “Spoiler Alert” (3.08). I was bored stiff, and sighed as yet again the awesome and confident Robin gets reduced to the archetype I call ‘slutty Robin’ – scenes where the typically awesome Robin I love suddenly becomes brainless and pathetic, particularly when it comes to men.

So, all in all… a disappointment that highlights how much this season has been just a shadow of previous years, even as it tries to get back on the right track. Bring Jennifer Morrison back, stat; having her in the group scenes might change the dynamic even just that little it needs to be fresh again. Because I don’t know whether I can sit through another bland, unmemorable and laughless B plot featuring the jokes the writing staff didn’t use three years ago.

One Response to “How I Met Your Mother, “Legendaddy” (6.19)”
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  1. […] at The Signal, or at least as much as I can be during a crunch. My most recent work: my latest How I Met Your Mother review goes into why the show’s been suffering this year, even with a return to their old style; I […]

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