'How I Met Your Mother' - 'Cleaning House': Black like me
A quick review of last night's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I get the Queen to give me a fistbump...
"Cleaning House" was a good example of the advantage that "HIMYM" often has over more joke-driven shows like "30 Rock." When "30 Rock" isn't funny, it has nothing else to offer and can be a chore to get through. But a largely unfunny "HIMYM" is still capable of having an emotional storyline to keep me interested.
"Cleaning House" did, in fact, have some funny moments, particularly once Ben Vereen(*) showed up as James' dad and Barney decided he was black(**). But a lot of the jokes - particularly in the Ted/Robin subplot - never quite landed.
(*) Note that Vereen is one of the few notable black entertainers of the '70s whom James doesn't list as one of the lies his mother told him about his father.
(**) That's a familiar vein of humor - as James Poniewozik noted in the headline to his review, Steve Martin famously built "The Jerk" around the phrase "I was born a poor black child..." - but Neil Patrick Harris' usual enthusiasm helped sell it. You could see Vereen understandably struggling to keep a straight face as Neil Patrick Harris did his black R&B voice.
Yet even though I didn't laugh much until the end, I enjoyed the episode as a good Barney story, playing off both season two's "Showdown" (where we first learned about the Bob Barker lie) and season four's "The Stinsons" (where we met Frances Conroy as Barney's mom Loretta and saw that mother and son had a relationship that was almost happily built on lies). Barney kicking ass on "The Price Is Right" to impress his "dad" was a great early "HIMYM" story, but eventually the truth had to come out, and NPH, Conroy and Wayne Brady all did a fine job in the smaller emotional moments.
In our summer interview, Bays and Thomas talked about Barney going off on a big season-long story that would kick off early, so even though Barney ripped up the paper with the information about his dad, I wonder if he may reconsider within an episode or two. If this is the story, I think it's a good one, as playing the broken child inside the d-bag in the suit tends to bring out the best in NPH, both dramatically and comedically.
What did everybody else think?
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
Let Streaming Genie help you.