After the disaster that was season 5, I gave up on How I Met Your Mother. Late last year, when I was bored one day, I got caught up with the show and was pleasantly surprised to see that it had improved by leaps and bounds over last season. I haven’t been reviewing the show because it’s probably not worth my time, but I decided that it was worth writing about the winter premiere. I probably won’t review How I Met Your Mother every week, but I might check in on it from time to time if I have something I want to say.

With all that preamble out of the way, let’s take a look at the episode itself. “Bad News” was a decent episode, and it was enjoyable overall, but it didn’t gel. The various plots seemed totally disconnected from each other, and as a result, the episode seemed all over the place.

In the subplot about Robin’s job, we got a glimpse into her workplace. I’m glad to see that Robin’s job is no longer being used as a convenient source of jokes, but also as a means of advancing her character’s story. I also appreciated all the nods to the continuity. In fact, it seemed as if the writers were poking fun at all the nonsense through which they’ve put Robin’s character over the years. On Ted’s side of the story, things were a little sillier, but also quite funny. Josh Radnor is good a milking laughs out of jokes that shouldn’t be funny, so in spite of how lame they were, I couldn’t help but laugh at Ted’s ridiculous attempts at kicks.

Unfortunately, Ted and Robin’s subplot was totally disconnected from Lily and Marshall’s, and while I appreciated what the writers were trying to do here, I didn’t find it very funny. The running joke about the doppelgangers didn’t really work last season, and while the show did a better job with it here, it still felt a bit anemic. However, the dramatic stuff worked much better than the comedy. I feared for a few minutes that the show was headed for a Friends-esque adoption storyline.* Luckily, the show avoided that trap. Instead, we got a glimpse into Marshall’s fears and insecurities. After all, the man is just a big kid with an occasional cynical streak. He still doesn’t want to disappoint his proud parents. Jason Segel delivered some of his best work of the series here, as did Alyson Hannigan. (Anyone who has seen the season 1 episode “Milk” knows that Hannigan does tearful really well.) I just wish that the writers had put better jokes in their mouths so that the comedy could have worked too.

“Bad News” wasn’t a terrible episode, but it certainly could have been better. I would have liked to see the subplots intertwining beyond the occasional scenes at the bar. I also would have liked some funnier jokes. On the whole, though, it was a fun half-hour of television, so I can’t complain too much.

What I’d really like, however, is an explanation of what that crazy countdown from 50 was all about. Was that just a weird sight gag, or was it some sort of in-joke? In any case, it’s time to Google for an answer.


* An adoption storyline might not have been a bad idea in and of itself, but it would have felt derivative.