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How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother is a comedy about Ted Mosby, a New York architect who wants to get married and start a family. Future Ted is telling the story of how he met their mother and we see his past story set in the present day and the adventures he has with friends Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin. CBS 2005-???

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Episode 11 - The Platinum Rule

29 March 2012

Synopsis: Ted tells the others he is going on a date with Stella, the doctor who is removing his tattoo. They all think it is a bad idea and Barney explains why. The Platinum Rule means you should never date someone you will see on a regular basis. Barney explains the eight stages which this relationship inevitably goes through. We see him dating Wendy the waitress in 2005, Marshall and Lily befriending their neighbours in 2006 and Robin dating co-anchor Curt Irons in 2007.

The Good: This is one of the most carefully crafted episodes of comedy you are ever likely to see. The moral of the story is expertly and amusingly explained by Barney and is one anyone can relate to. Being romantically involved with someone you can not avoid inevitably leads to complications because you have no break from them. The bones of this simple truth are then given flesh by three highly appropriate and clever stories.

The tone and context of each story is ideal. First they get a different but equally apt context for each situation. Robin dates a co-worker, Lily and Marshall get too close to their neighbours and Barney seduces the one woman who is always at his bar. Each situation plays into the characters traits and showcases a different scenario for the platinum rule to work. We know Robin is uncertain about commitment and so her clingy boyfriend is an ideal choice for her. And while Lily and Marshall’s dilemma is more serious and comes from their desire to be good neighbours, Barney’s is frivolous and comes from his own selfishness.

Then the storytelling itself is both clever and rings very true. At each stage the others warn one another off what they are about to do but nobody listens. It reflects real life beautifully where people’s current happiness often overrides their ability to imagine future problems. The jump from one scene to another going back in time is clever because it reinforces what Barney is saying. This is not just a silly rule he created, but one that the others can testify to.

The humour flows out of these stories very naturally though Barney of course dominates proceedings. He holds court magnificently, diving in front of the door to stop Ted leaving, wiping his hands after messing with Ted’s hair and explaining each stage with gusto. He has some great lines (see Comic Highlight) including asking what the opposite of name dropping is and breaking up with Wendy in the bluntest fashion possible. He milks his paranoia about Wendy poisoning him to good effect as well.

That paranoia is the perfect way to end the episode. Despite all the good points he has made, Barney didn’t actually face any fallout as he had been warning Ted to expect. So Barney remains the foolish one who can’t see the bigger picture. It is Ted, the “hero” of our story who steps in to tell the real end of the story. Which is that in most cases “Co-existence” is the end of the tale where time will help people get over their hurt.

The fact that this episode sets up another story featuring Stella (313) is the cherry on top of a fantastic piece of television.

The Bad: Sadly what this episode lacks, is what the whole show lacks, real laughter. Barney is near his best here, funny in almost all he does. But he is the only one who makes you laugh and the laughs are not as hard as classic sit coms should give you. But that is a criticism of the show more than this individual episode.

I suppose to be very real the “Iron Man” shouldn’t have walked away from the news desk on air. In real life one assumes he would have been more professional.

Comic Highlight: Barney is trapped, not able to hit on women in his own bar. He begins a fun metaphor about himself as King of the Jungle. He explains that his jungle is now his zoo where he is forced to mate with the same lioness again and again. Then the metaphor breaks down amusingly as he says “while families pay to watch.” He finishes with “Put a bell around my neck and scratch my belly kids. For I am just a docile house cat now.” And then a mournful “Meow!”

How I rate your episode: It is difficult to remember a show using its format and characters or indeed the very format of twenty two minutes of television to tell a story so effectively. Each character is given an appropriate context to play their part in the story, Barney provides the laughter and Ted gives us the conclusion which we can all relate to. There may be no belly laughs but in terms of storytelling this is…wait for it…awesome.

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