2
Feb
2010
How I Met Your Mother: Season 5, Episode 14
The Perfect Week
Jordan
Generally the ideal How I Met your Mother episode is mythology based, following an advancement of ted's quest to meet the mother or at least giving us hints at what is to come. Occasionally an episode becomes legendary for its use of the flash-forward to foreshadow major events in our characters lives. Sometimes the episode becomes legendary by introducing an excellent new running joke that will keep us waiting for seasons before the pay-off. "The Perfect Week" is none of these things, yet it is still the show at its near-best, with every character getting some excellent moments, a clever use of the flashback structure the show is built around, and an excellent guest role by Jim Nantz.

The episode is framed around the idea of Barney's favorite way to calm his nerves: pretending he is being interviewed by the aforementioned sportscaster. While Barney waits to see if the axe will drop on him at work, he recounts to fictional Jim Nantz the story of his quest for the legendary Perfect Week. It starts off in a standard "calling of the shot" in which Barney points his finger at a girl and decides he's going home with her (a little adjustment is required). Soon he is racking up enough consecutive nights to make the difficult feat seem within reach. Neil Patrick Harris is almost always the show's strongest comedic link, yet often when he steps into the center of the storyline, things fall off the rails (see: the first half of this season when the Barney-Robin pairing was botched). Tonight his status as one of the most entertaining performers around carried the episode beautifully, as did his nigh inexplicable (yet hysterical) chemistry with a game Jim Nantz, who was funnier than he had any right to be.

Yet a great A-plot cannot an awesome episode make. As Barney struggles for his (don't say it) the gang watches, first with disinterest and disgust, and eventually with a sports fan's zeal for the way the game is played as each of their week's plummets. The show really hits its stride when the cast is making fun of each other and trying to one-up every one else with their jokes, and tonight was a perfect storm of mockery as each member had something that could be insulted. Robin grew increasingly desperate after an awful first date (with a lazy eye and a love-hate relationship with Gargamel) doesn't call her back and allowher to properly reject him. Ted feels dejected after his mockery of a student with a funny name makes her drop his class (in his defense he thought it was a joke name, and she was called Cook Pu). And Marshall and Lily have dropped the ball yet again in their never ending quest to find couple friends by admitting that they share a toothbrush (an extremely gross tidbit that only gets funnier when its revealed that Ted and Robin unknowingly shared their toothbrush for years as well).

As the episode ends, Barney triumphs, entering the "Hall of Game" and retiring the tie he wore on the seventh night. Oh, and he doesn't get fired, which would have been a bigger deal if the show didn't so perfectly immerse us in Barney's narrative. It has been far too long since an episode of How I Met Your Mother has been this hysterical, allowing every member of the cast to shine and engaging us in a story that really is as one-note and stand alone as any the show has forwarded of late. In terms of stand alone episodes, "The Perfect Week" may be just about as good as it gets.

Grade: A

Notes:

-"You know how Lily and I have been looking for new couple friends ever since we lost Barney and Robin, and Ted and Stella, and Ted and Robin, and Ted and Victoria. Jeez Ted, when are you going to get your life together?"

-"See that girl over there having a Black Russian? She's about to chase that with a White American. What up?" Even better was him following the gang's eye rolls with, "if you guys aren't careful, you're going to lose me."

-"Giddy...what up?"

-"Are you happy now Truthy McGee?"

-The only man to achieve both a perfect game and a perfect week was Mustache Pete Drexel back in 1896. Continuing a subtle tradition of casting NPH as a variety of historical figures.

-"Don't talk about Dale that way! He is twice the man you will ever be!" Something about obsessed Robin is a never not funny.

-"Eight o'clock?"--pauses to count-- "I need to go to the hospital."

-"You are a keen observer of the human condition, Jim Nantz." Also worth praising was Nantz's reaction to the second member of the gang claiming there is no such thing as a jinx, when he stood up, threw up his hands, and kicked over his chair in disbelief.

-"Lily, I'm getting my own toothbrush."
Tags: How I Met Your Mother
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