Episode 12 - First Time In New York
18 September 2011
Synopsis: Robin's sister Katie comes to visit just as she is ready to tell Ted she loves him. Katie's boyfriend Kyle is in town too and she is ready to lose her virginity to him. Robin doesn't want her to make a mistake and tries to talk her out of it. As the gang reveals their 'firsts' Marshall is shocked to learn that he might not have been Lily's first and Barney tries to hide the details of his.
The Good: This was pretty good plot-wise thought the comedy left a lot to be desired. Even though we know Robin and Ted won't make it their relationship still feels authentic and affectionate. I liked the montage of moments where Robin realised she was falling in love with Ted. When the actors are allowed to play those moments straight they do an excellent job.
Robin's sister then provided the perfect moment to bring this issue to a head. Katie is smart enough to see all the holes in her overprotective sister's arguments about sex. So when Robin (and the gang) start preaching the 'wait for the right person' line Katie asks if Robin loves Ted. It was a very well written and authentic moment. Ted drags Robin out of the firing line to be the sweet boyfriend and reassure her that he doesn't need her to say something she doesn't mean. Robin though is ready to say it but is scared of what being in such a relationship will mean. Ted proves himself once more by helping Katie understand what teenage boys are like and so Robin can tell him she loves him in a way that really means something. It's not an original story but it was executed very well.
I also like that Ted geeked-out over the Empire State Building. That suited his character perfectly. Barney's virginity story fitted with what we know of him too. He wasn't always so 'awesome' (115) and so an un-sexual adolescence would make sense. The way the gang let him tell the Dirty Dancing story instead of the real one was a smiley way to close things out. Lily and Marshall's story was nice background noise too. The debate around what constitutes sex will be a familiar teenage memory for many and they used the Empire State Building well to make Lily's point about the specialness of their love.
The Bad: The only down side to this episode was the jokes and general sense of humour. Season Two has already continued the trend of Season One: How I Met Your Mother is a romantic comedy, it's not really a comedy. When the plot comes first and a few jokes are sprinkled in it is very pleasant to watch. But when the writers try to be funny things can get awkward.
In most episodes so far the jokes have been few and far between but here they were a constant thud. Marshall needs classical music playing when he goes to the toilet. Umm, no he doesn't. It's never come up before and it would be an impractical life situation for him. There's nothing funny about something so ridiculous. Then we had a guy who claimed he was going to jump off the Empire State Building but finds there is something to live for thanks to Ted's random intervention. Is suicide funny? Maybe but not in this flippant cartoon context. Why is such a silly character invading a serious scene about Robin and Ted's relationship? Then we have the return of the mirroring scenes. Ted's story of his first time is shown twice with the same dialogue but the parts flipped. There's nothing funny about those scenes once you immediately realise which one was true (we saw the same thing in 203).
There were other jokes like this which didn't hit their mark including the extended Dirty Dancing scene with Barney's face transposed into it. I just don't think the writers understand comedy very well. The characters seem so natural when talking to one another seriously and so forced when they make a joke.
Comic Highlight: We learn that Robin's first time was with a guy who instantly saw this act as confirmation that he was gay. Later when Robin finally tells Ted that she loves him he instantly replies "I'm gay." He takes it back quickly though as he wasn't about to ruin that moment.
How I rate your episode: A solid story with some poor jokes.
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