So far this season of How I Met Your Mother has been quite a letdown. The plot has slowly winded its way to an abundance of insignificance, while far too few moments of hilarity have been sprinkled in. The season is still young however, so there’s still plenty of time for the show to turn it around and have a strong finish worthy of the phenomenal series that fans have come to love.
This week’s episode, The Stamp Tramp, was finally a step in the right direction.
One moment at the beginning of the episode was a special reminder of why this show is so great. Lily mentions the man in a hot dog suit that Marshall is so afraid of, Marshall denies seeing him, but throws in a side comment about how hot dogs aren’t supposed to have faces. Then when Marshall tells his story, Brad is eating a hot dog he found in the trash, a subtle reference to the conversation they just had, and then of course the hot dog man joins the conversation and Marshall is instantly uncomfortable.
It’s those subtle jokes that this show has made its mark with. They don’t need the rolling-on the floor laughing-out-loud moments that more comedically focused shows rely on. How I Met Your Mother is driven by how relatable its characters are, and it’s that relatability that makes the smaller moments so funny. The show has deviated from that recently, so it was a welcome relief that the show headed back there this week.
Joe Manganiello was back this week too as Brad. We hadn’t seen him in a while, but he’s always a welcome addition to an episode. At the beginning of the episode Marshall stumbles upon Brad looking extremely down on his luck. Marshall’s firm has an opening, so he decides that he’ll help his friend out and get him an interview.
This prompts a conversation at the bar about how Marshall is a stamp tramp, meaning he’ll vouch for anything and anyone. This is very true, I mean Marshall is just an all-around nice midwestern guy. Of course he’s going to vouch for his friend. Everyone else says this is a problem though and it waters down his credibility.
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It’s determined that Lily has the most credible stamp, with everything all the way down to Robin’s bra being based on a Lily recommendation. Ted however, is simply a piggy-back stamper. The only new stamp he’s given is on a quality ear, nose, and throat doctor.
This revelation sends Ted on a hilarious quest to find something he was the first to recommend. Episodes that delve into Ted’s past, especially his college years, always provide great laughs. Of the three characters we get to see in college, Ted is by far the best. His pretentious moments are way more prevalent than they are in the modern day, and they’re such a great contrast to the relatively socially adjusted Ted we see now.
Ted thinks he’s onto something, he remembers a Dishwalla song that he insists he showed the whole campus to. Lily claims she was the one to show them, but Ted claims it was Dr. X who showed everyone. Lily brings up the obvious point that if Dr. X showed everyone then it wasn’t Ted’s stamp that mattered. Ted thinks about this for a second, and finally makes the not-so-shocking confession, prompting the best planned, synchronized spit-take I’ve seen.
Ted spends the rest of the episode diving into his college video diaries (yes he made video diaries), searching for something, anything that he was the first to stamp. He comes to the crushing realization that not only was he lacking in new ideas, but he was also nowhere near as cool and sophisticated as he thought he was.
Eventually Lily and Ted stumble upon a clip of Ted and Marshall after Marshall’s third date with Lily. It turns out that Marshall was concerned maybe they were moving too fast, especially since he hadn’t dated any other girls in college. However, Ted puts Marshall’s concerns to rest by giving Lily the ultimate stamp of his approval, and saying that meeting the one when you’re 18 just means you get to spend that much more time with them. So it turns out even though Ted wasn’t the first to show everyone a new song, he did give a stamp of approval that led to a child, which isn’t a bad alternative.
Marshall’s stamp isn’t working out quite as well as Ted’s though. It turns out that Brad isn’t suited for any interview, let alone one set up by a friend. He make racist/sexist comments, talks about the upcoming case due to advice from his psychic and his astrologist, and he lets one rip before Marshall and his boss, Honeywell, leave the room.
Honeywell isn’t happy with Marshall’s advice, and Marshall begins to rescind his support of Brad before realizing no, he has to stand by his stamp. He points out that Brad was third in their class, and that impresses Honeywell, at least enough to go back into the interview for two more minutes.
Everything seems to be going well until basketball is brought up. It turns out the not-too-tall Honeywell has a bit of a size complex. And by a bit, I mean he’s about 5’6″ and thinks he’s 6’1″. Marshall plays along saying that since Honeywell is 6’1″ Marshall must be over 7 feet. Brad however won’t play along. He makes a few offensive comments before leaving to take a dump, and Honeywell has lost his confidence in Marshall.
When he is at first ignored, Marshall attempts to win his boss’ affection back, little by little, by first showing a funny internet video, then making a recommendation about combining cheese and caramel popcorn. Eventually he tells Honeywell that his deep v-neck works well, and his trust is regained.
When it’s time for the Gruber Pharmaceutical case, defending Gruber is none other than Brad. It turns out his horrible interview was all just an elaborate scheme to get into the office and spy on the strategy Marshall’s team had put together. Honeywell tells Marshall he has to win the case or he’s fired, but we don’t get the rest of that story yet.
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While all this is going on Barney is in a major pickle. Now that him and Quinn are broken up, she’s gone back to dancing at the Lusty Leopard. His problem isn’t that she’s stripping again, it’s that this means he needs a new strip club.
His money is so valuable at strip clubs that they begin courting him through a series of gifts that begin to increase in value with time. Robin tells him that if he takes more time he can start getting some really nice gifts. Barney likes that idea so much that he asks Robin to be his strip club agent, an offer which she surprisingly agrees to.
She takes her role extremely seriously, taking offers from a serious of innovatively named strip clubs, before finally deciding that Barney should sign with the Golden Oldies. Barney is ticked off, as he asked her to remove them from contention. It’s then he notices her Rolex and bling necklace. Robin has been taking bribes, and because of this Barney lets her go.
Barney is on his own now, and he has a decision special in MacLarens. I’ve enjoyed the subtle references knocking LeBron over the last couple seasons, but tonight was the best. Barney gives a heartfelt decision speech, with lines pulled straight from LeBron’s decision, until he eventually announces he’ll take his talents to Mouth Beach. The only thing that was more of a joke on LeBron than Barney’s decision, was LeBron’s own ESPN special.
Robin accompanies Barney to the club in order to buy his first lap dance in an attempt to make up for trying to sneak extra benefits as her agent. They walk home extremely drunk, and Barney tells Robin how he always has a good time with her. They pause for a moment and then finally kiss, the kiss fans have been waiting for since Barney and Quinn broke up. After a few seconds Robin pushes away, says she can’t do this and runs off.
This episode was a great effort at getting back to what fans have been expecting from this season. It had its funny moments, didn’t deviate from the characters like recent weeks had, and it moved the story in proper direction for its ultimate conclusion. It has my seal of approval.
Part of the reason tonight worked so well is Marshall and Lily were separated. Their relationship is one of the best on TV and certainly the most enjoyable of the show, but in recent weeks them together just meant both characters were in a not funny rut. Separate, the show was able to properly show funny moments from both of them, and get back to their characters pre-baby. Hopefully when they’re back together in future weeks they’re out of their rut.
Other Random Notes
- Ted’s thoughts on Marshall being a stamp tramp, “It’s like when my mom likes a movie, it just means it has Richard Dreyfuss.”
- Another opportunity for Marshall to make fish jokes. “What’d you call a fish with no “i”s? Fsh”
- Robin did a great job pulling in offers for where Barney should “pitch his tent.”
- I don’t think the Boys and Girls Club will want the profits from Barney’s decision.
- Cheese and caramel popcorn is a great combination.
Check back next week for my thoughts on the next episode in the eighth season of How I Met Your Mother.Previous