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Urban HIMYMs: “Ten Sessions” — Continuity Gratuity Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Posted by Yostal in Gen X&Y, How I Met Your Mother, Television, The Bad One, Things too long to read, TV, TV shows, Urban HIMYMs, Yostal.
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Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to my season’s worth of recaps for How I Met Your Mother. Welcome, once more, to Urban HIMYMs.

If you watched CBS over the last week (and since there was a small thing called the opening rounds of the NCAA Division I Mens’ Basketball Tournament on, I suspect you might have done so.), then you know that this week’s How I Met Your Mother is the one featuring a special guest appearance by one Ms. Britney Spears. Some might call this a win-win, HIMYM perhaps attracts new viewers who want to see Britney while Britney tries to prove that her life is not some form of Mike Patrick endorsed train wreck. However, the good people over at CBS’ promo department decided that they wanted to make absolutely, 100% sure you were aware of this guest appearance and used the high rated vehicle of the NCAA Tournament to help promote it, leading to some blowback. I personally thought that it was probably a poor choice to use the line in question, especially because I was sure that the conversation she was having with Barney was likely to end up being a throw away line. I was right. I don’t feel good about that, but I was right. As a ratings grabbing ploy, it also worked, drawing HIMYM‘s largest audience since the Season 2 premiere.

That said, at the core of this guest star vehicle is a really good episode, one which is just overflowing with what The Bad One referred to as “Continuity Porn”. So we’ll see how this breakdown goes.

And away we go…

We see Ted at the office of his dermatologist Stella, as played by Sarah Chalke. Hey, it’s Elliot, and she’s playing a different kind of doctor, so it’s OK. You know, if you’re going to get typecast, doctor isn’t exactly a bad spot in which to be typecast. As we know from “The Platinum Rule” Ted is there to get his “tramp stamp” removed. Dr. Stella is witty in noting the exact reason why Ted got it, and Ted fires back that he doesn’t really know what happened, he got a caterpillar tattoo and few weeks went by and all of the sudden, he had this. Stella tells Ted she can get rid of it in ten one-hour sessions, but warns him that laser surgery can be very painful. Ted says this is no problem, he’s used to pain, as he just sat through the worst movie ever made. Stella inquires Plan 9 From Outer Space. Ted fires back Manos: The Hands of Fate, confirming my belief that Ted is, like myself, a MSTie. Dr. Stella says she’s a doctor, she went to medical school, she’s right, and it’s playing downtown to back it up. Ted says he’ll have to go, but he knows he’s right. Ted arrives at the movie theater (after the discussion with the gang in The Platinum Rule) and offers to pay, picking up the tab for Dr. Stella, and her girlfriends who are there with her. Just behind Ted is a poster for a movie called Heartfelt Sap, and that’s pretty much what Ted is at the moment. Through a game of telephone, Ted learns that Dr. Stella can’t date him, it’s an AMA rule, but it’s loud enough that everyone can hear that Ted’s a schmuck.

Opening sequence. We miss you serif font.

Session 1:

Ted’s lying on his stomach and he has Dr. Stella laughing and he does call it his worst movie going experience ever, but notes it had nothing to do with the movie. I’d like to feel sympathetic to Ted, but he’s wearing a vintage Ohio State Buckeyes football t-shirt, and well, the well-springs of sympathy in my heart have dried up for the man. I always suspected he was a Buckeye, but there it is. Anyway, Stella apologizes for the fact that Ted thought it was a date, and Ted says that if she’s not allowed to date a patient, he’ll just wait until the session are over and will ask her out then. Stella notes that that’s fine, but she’s just going to say no at that time.  Ted tries to charm his way through this, but Dr. Stella will not budge.

At the bar, Robin tries to clarify the hidden messages beneath Dr. Stella’s “no” and points out that she might just mean “no”.  Ted things that ten weeks is a long time and how does anyone know what they will want in ten weeks.  Besides Marshall knowing his lunch order.  Barney tries to inject some clarity into this, pointing out that it takes a woman 8.3 seconds to decide whether or not she wants to sleep with a guy, and then asks Ted to describe his first 8.3 seconds.  It’s painful and awkward, since he and the faux hussied up Xtina clone sitting two down from Ted both get up when she calls for the patient having the lower back butterfly tattoo removed.  Ted says that it’s OK, he’s something that gets better with time, not some easily digestible Top 40 song, but something complex that is more appreciated with multiple listens.  He’s “Stairway to Heaven”.  (While I appreciate the gratutious Zeppelin reset, he could have at least picked “When the Levee Breaks” or “Ten Years Gone”.)  Robin then pointed out that Roger Daltrey just rolled over in his grave after that comment, only to realize to her horror that, not only did she have the wrong guy, but that he’s not even dead.  (Besides, if you were going to pick a complex song by the Who, you’d probably want to pick “Baba O’Riley” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, but then you’d be crossing over to the CSIs of the world and that might get a little too complicated.  But I digress.)  Lily is all for it though, she’s going to support Ted by giving up biting her nails.  Ted’s convinced he can win her over in ten sessions, but Barney remains unfazed.  He asks how the rest of the session went, and well, Ted yelped like a woman, leading to concern from the receptionist.  Doesn’t this dermatologist have a nurse of a PA?


Because ten sessions takes a long time, we’re gonna need a montage:
Session 2: Ted tells Dr. Stella about how he spent a summer working with inner-city kids.
Session 3: Ils tous les deux ne parlent rien mais français.
Session 4: Ted makes Dr. Stella laugh so hard that she falls out of her chair.
Session 5: Ted juggles, but Dr. Stella says “Still no.” Leading to a great bit of frustration acting by Josh Radnor.  Barney mocks Ted for juggling to impress her.  Ted points out that Barney does magic, how is juggling any lamer than magic. Barney immediately defends magic as not lame and immediately conjures a fireball, leading to a scolding by Lily, a violent reaction from Marshall, and a chastizing from the waitress who points out the fire code violation, earning Barney a time out.  Ted’s frustrated, but Lily encourages him, he just has to keep at it, her long nails proof of perseverance.  She points out it can’t be easy to woo someone while you’re sticking your butt in their face, but Marshall says it works for baboons.  He then defends his knowledge of presenting after drawing sneers from the rest of the table.  Barney, in a wonderful bit of depth of field, says you can’t turn a no into a yes.  Robin says that’s not true, she eventually said yes.  Barney is confused, she didn’t say yes, that she was worried it would mess up the dynamic of the group, but Robin points out she said yes to Ted.  Barney immediately shuts it down, and I am left to wonder about that story.  We jump back to the office at the end of Session 5 when the receptionist Abby is nearly breaking down in tears on the phone from an aggressive phone call.  Dr. Stella tells her to simply hang up, which she does.  Dr. Stella mentions she just wishes that some of her patients would be nicer to her.  This gives Ted his in, he’ll use Abby to get in.  Barney approves of this plan, nudging Robin with his elbow.

Session 6: Ted walks in with coffee and some form of brown-bagged baked good for Abby, which he only gives her when Dr. Stella is looking.  Abby is wowed, in a way that is horribly awkward and adorable all at the same time.  Ted says that now we play the waiting game.

Session 7:  Sure enough, Dr. Stella does see Ted in a new light.  She’s about to break her big rule.  She notes that Abby would like to ask Ted out to a bowling event with her church group, but she’s too shy to make the move.  Ted does not immediately make the connection that Abby=receptionist, and then fumbles the recovery poorly.  Very poorly.

At the bar, Ted laments what is happening, and Lily, scratching a very contented Marshall’s back, says he just has to be himself.  Ted concurs, but Ted says one more gimmick.  She has the self-help book The Power of Me by James DeVito.  This meets with derision from most of the gang, and Ted agrees, but he figures if he reads it, he’ll have talking points with Dr. Stella.  Marshall backs him up, saying the book taught him the power of complete memory, but sadly, he cannot loan Ted his copy because he can’t remember where his copy is.

Session 8: Ted, sporting a pretty cool Saints vintage T (leading me to believe that his wardrobe this week was entirely assembled at Distant Replays), walks in reading The Power of Me, and lets glasses free-, straightened hair Abby know he’s there.  Dr. Stella walks in and apologizes that she has like two minutes for lunch every day.  Ted points out that he sees her copy of The Power of Me on her bookshelf, and she derides it, noting that a patient left it there.  Ted immediately goes in with the mockery, but Abby bursts in to note that Ted threw away his copy of the book.  When Ted tries not to claim it, she points out Ted’s name in the front cover.  This is not going well for Ted, at all.

At the bar, Robin says that she is sad to say, but she thinks its nail the receptionist time, to Barney’s nodding agreement.  Barney feels the need to jump in.  He went down there himself to check her out.  It turns out that he learned something disturbing.  Something very disturbing….But he needs to pee.


So Barney comes back, and after asking Robin what’s up at work, we learn that the aggressive phone caller at the end of Session 5 was, in fact, Barney.  Barney says that he overheard Dr. Stella ask if her hypnotherapist called, because she needs to kick her foliculophilia.  It turns out she can only be attracted to a man with a mustache.  Ted says that Barney’s just making it up, but Robin backs Barney up.

Session 9: Ted walks in sporting a vintage Angels t-shirt and the beginnings of a ‘stache, leading to more swoon from a Power of Me reading Abby (and another wonderful CBS cross reference with Magnum PI).  Dr. Stella rushes in from her typical two minute lunch, does a wonderful dry spittake on Ted’s ‘stache, and we cut back to the bar and a laughing Barney, who points out that he did it to win a $10 bet that he could make Ted grow a mustache.  Ted now laments that he’s facing an inevitable no, but Lily refuses to believe that, because she said she likes him, she said so herself.  It tuns out Marshall went to see her.  Marshall was trying to plant seeds, under the guise of dry elbows, but Dr. Stella wants to check out this mildly irregular mole, leading Marshall into an inner monologue of panic.  She notes at the end that the guy with the butterfly tattoo is just a little crush.  Marshall walks out, leaving his copy of The Power of Me, meaning that this happened before Session 7.  Ted has renewed hope.

Session 10: Elder Ted says it was the least painful session of all.  A nice little piano riff plays in the background. After the session, Ted finally asks her, and she starts politely shooting him down (the music cutting out was a wonderful little touch, as was Ted’s under the breath “I’mgonnakillMarshall.”)  Ted says that it’s worse than the laser.  Dr. Stella tells Ted that she has an eight-year old daughter Lucy, and that between work and being with her, that’s pretty much her life.  Movie night with the girls, once a month, is the highlight of her going out when she can get a sitter and that she’s been to one party in the past year, St. Patty’s Day (which she notes was awful and she left early.  Seeds!  Seeds!)  She says that her only free time is the two minutes she gets for lunch, which is why she doesn’t date.

Back at the bar, Ted laments she’s a mom, it’s not gonna happen.  Ted says he has no one to blame but himself, she told him from the start that she was going to say no, and piano epiphany…Ted meets Dr. Stella on the street and points out that she never actually said no.  He checked the transcript.  Ted proposes a two-minute date.  Dr. Stella is wary, but she consents.

I cannot, in writing, do justice to the perfection of this scene.  It’s as romantic as anything I have seen on television, and there’s something wonderfully sweet.  The inclusion of Manos, the reappearance of Ranjit the cabbie, the inclusion of alma maters (she’s Stanford, he’s Wesleyan) and yeah.  Sarah Chalke is awesome as a non-neurotic sweetheart of a doctor.  Ted understands that she doesn’t have time for a second date, but it’s how you turn a no into a yes.  The wonderful Abby misconstrual coda is a great capper to the scene.

The Barney scene with Abby at the end is utterly gratuitous, so naturally it’s what ended up in the promo.  It reminds me of the horrible way NBC used to cut NewsRadio promos back in the 1990s to focus on the guest star even if the guest star is not essential to the plot.

This was a fantastic episode (it took me 90 minutes to recap 22 minutes of television, it was so jam packed.)  Once more, we see the strength of what a great guest star (Sarah Chalke) can bring, even if another guest (you know who) is there to draw in the eyeballs.  I am looking forward to see what comes next week.

Once again, I’d like to thank my pal Geoff (aka The Bad One) for his witty and insightful comments as I worked on this. And Jennifer (aka The Yostess) for putting up with me doing this.

So, that’s all I have for this week’s edition of Urban HIMYMs. With that, this is Yostal reminding you to just chill, ‘til the next episode.



1. Jerkwheat - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

hmmm…looks like we’ll be missing out on the segregationist rhetoric demographic this week on the HIMYMs

2. DougOLis - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Is it possible that she’s the yellow umbrella? I’m inclined to think not, but it’s something I could easily accept (other than the whole Stanfurd thing).

Britney was actually decent on the show; it wasn’t a naturally fitting guest spot but she did fine. Could have been a lot worse.

Barney said something to the effect of “Everybody wants the doctor or lawyer, but someone has to do the receptionist.” Is it strange that I’d rather choose the receptionist? What does that say about me?

3. JB* - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jerkwheat – maybe not. Perhaps they will return to defend Britney.

Doug – I’d say no, since if that was the case, we have the culmination of the story – how he met their mother. Also, what it says about you could be that you have a thing for headsets.

Yost, I think there could be a great episode lurking to Barney’s line to Robin about messing up the dynamic of the group. As you point out, we know the penchant for dropping seeds/clues (the absence of the Blue Horn, after the Spaghetti Fight, for one), but there was also the night Robin “Suited Up” in Season One (quite hotly, no less) when Barney tried a different approach to “sinking his battleship”.

I thought it was one of the better episodes of the season. But have they run out of footage of the kids?

4. Yostal - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DougOLis: I give Bays and Thomas credit. They know they can’t string us along forever, and the “yellow umbrella” is enough clues to make us think zebra whenever we hear hoofbeats. (He still should end up with Danica.)

JB*: I agree. I love the idea that Robin and Barney would be the great couple for each other because they both don’t want commitment. Notice how Barney inquired about how things are going at work for her? How he no longer calls her by her last name? There’s an evolution at work here, and there is a story to be told.

By the way, the have-you-met-ted.com discussion is also fantastic.

5. greg - Friday, March 28, 2008

no specific love for Big Star’s “Thirteen?”

Children by the millions!

6. Borgski - Friday, March 28, 2008

Please someone… Can you tell me who performs that opening blues in the episode… I am dieing to own that music

7. Yostal - Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sorry Greg, I should have caught that.

Borgski, sorry, I got nothing.

8. Borgski - Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Yostal .. no problemo :D

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