A quick review of tonight's "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as my baby hears The Jerky Boys...

In this very up and down "HIMYM" season(*), "False Positive" was a very big up on which to end 2010. It did those things that we consider distinctly "HIMYM" - playing with time and perspective, bouncing from story to story - and did so in a way that felt germane to the story and the characters. (In contrast, last week's Future Ted unreliable narrator gag just felt like a gimmick.)

(*) In the pile-on for last week's episode, some people suggested I'm being far too kind in calling this an up-and-down year, and insisted that they've all been awful. But just skimming my reviews since the premiere, we got Barney meeting Ben Vereen in "Cleaning House," we got "Subway Wars," we got the episode at the Museum of Natural History, we got "Blitzgiving," and now we've got this. Some of those have been stronger than others, but that's nearly half of this fall's episodes I liked (and more than half if you include "Glitter," which I laughed at even while viewing it as a watered-down Robin Sparkles reprise). That's pretty much the definition of an uneven season to me.  

What I particularly liked was the episode's use of Ted, who's both the show's central character and its most problematic. When we got to the Marshall/Lily prong of the story, and we heard everyone's mental response to the baby news, and Ted's only reaction was to get a seasonally-appropriate snack for the movie, I laughed. After all, I'd been enjoying the episode greatly, and that joke made me realize Ted had been given virtually nothing to do, and seemingly no story of his own - so of course that explained things. But then Ted turned out to be central not only to the other stories, but to his own, as Best Man not only to Punchy(**), but to the whole gang. This is the Ted that works best - not the smarmy, self-satisfied douche, but the good-hearted romantic, the conscience of the group who thinks the best of his friends and wants them to strive for the best in themselves.

(**) Okay, prognosticators, time to call it: was the framing sequence from the season premiere from Punchy's wedding, or from Robin's to a person unknown (and hopefully, from my perspective, to Barney)? Not sure why Marshall would be at Punchy's wedding, but if they want to get back to the wedding this season, Robin would have to fall for somebody awfully fast.

And beyond the structure, and the use of the most appealing side of Ted, "False Positive" was also darned funny, particularly during Marshall and Lily's all-night baby freakout, Alex Trebek's Canada crush on Robin, and, of course, Barney's Favorite Things. (You just know NPH has been working on that Oprah impression for a long time.)

What did everybody else think?

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