How I Met Your Mother: “Mom and Dad”

At least there is something to discuss from last night’s episode? A silver lining for what was once again a pedestrian effort for a formerly-great show, but a silver lining nonetheless. The story was again flat and predictable, with only a few quality lines sprinkled throughout that actually made me laugh. One more installment in a season that is all but unnecessary at this point and is a complete struggle to get through every week. But we’ve come this far, so another 2/3rds of a season can be suffered through just to say we all made it through this slog together.

Out of all the reasons that I force myself to finish out the string, I keep coming back to one major one: that this cast is a group of talented and entertaining actors and actresses. Although the material they’ve been given to perform for the last three or so seasons has been subpar, there are still a few moments of fun in each episode almost entirely because this cast is still entertaining as any other on television and can prove it. The point at which Alyson Hannigan full-on tackled Billy Zabka while wearing a cocktail dress was a perfect example of how easy it is to take something that could be found on any other sitcom on television and make it amusing, simply because it was Hannigan doing it.

Maybe the most talented actor with the largest range in the cast is Neil Patrick Harris, as he has demonstrated so well over the last 9 seasons. Even after years of portraying Barney as a soulless man whore who didn’t understand social cues, he has been able to turn on the emotion when necessary and absolutely sell the bigger moments that he’s had in the last two or so seasons (even though I still think the story that brings him to these moments is dumb). HIMYM hasn’t been shy about utilizing Harris’ Broadway experience and singing voice when they want, and last night’s Mom and Dad was another instance of the writers using his talents to salvage an otherwise throwaway episode.

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It’s been nice having Wayne Brady around as a recurring guest as Barney’s brother James this season, as his particular brand of comedy is always welcome. Of course, his character has been involved with his share of ridiculous story lines as well but like Harris, Brady has a solid singing voice and some theater experience at this point in his career. So it would only make sense at some point that the writers would tap into that well and thank goodness they did it last night because again, everything else was boring. 

In an entirely unnecessary but welcome addition, both Barney and James day dreamed an alternate reality via musical number where their respective dads were settled with Loretta and taking part in a stereotypical marriage straight out of The Donna Reed Show or something of that ilk. John Lithgow, Frances Conroy, and Ben Vereen all sold the craziness well, including their anger and possession of Loretta when the two dream sequences amusingly intersected. The musical number was cute but clever, with hilarious throwaway lines flying left and right in classic HIMYM style. Both Harris and Brady got the opportunity to show off their pipes (great as expected) and a few of their dancing skills. NPH executed the latter skill better than anyone involved (shocker) giving his part of the daydream a little more flair before the real jokes started coming through.

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It didn’t save the entire episode, but the performance did a good job of spicing up the A-plot just enough to make it a passable way to spend over half the episode. In advance of his return to Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, it was nice to see Neil Patrick Harris enjoying himself singing and dancing outside of an awards show for the first time in a while and I’m always on board for Wayne Brady getting to show off some of his lesser known skills. A cute little song and dance that ended up saving most of “Mom and Dad” for me when it was all said and done. Now if  the writing staff could tap into their talents like the stars can to salvage one episode, maybe there will be hope for the rest of the season yet.

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