How I Met Your Mother-Bedtime Stories-Alyson Hannigan, Neli Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, and Josh Radnor

How I Met Your Mother has always been unique, and last night was no different. “Bedtime Stories” helped Carter Bays and Craig Thomas reclaim their title as creative kings with this all rhyming episode. James Van Der Beek returns for a night so special even the theme song was a lullaby.

The Players:

  • Director: Pamela Fryman
  • Writers: Carter Bays and Craig Thomas
  • Cast: Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Cristin Milioti, Bob Saget, James Van Der Beek, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Camille Gutay, Marcia Ann Burs, Alfred Robin Thomas, Christopher Darga, Michael C. Mahon

Episode Title: “Bedtime Stories”

Marshall tries to keep Marvin calm as they travel the final leg in their journey to the Farhampton Inn.

The Good:

  • Nightmare Free: The episode’s focus on Marshall was exactly what we needed to become reacquainted with our favorite lawyer. Jason Segel’s presence on the show has been rather technical and removed this season. By giving his character the job of narration, everyone was reminded exactly why we missed him so much. Marshall’s banter with his bus mate was highly entertaining, especially Gus’s rap about the lack of rhyming words for Canada. The most touching was Marshall hoping that Marvin remembers none of the strife between his parents during the weekend. The most tantalizing was the closing scene in which the Inn’s five mile distance caused a few bars of “Marshall versus the Machines” to play behind Marshall’s hopeful face. 
  • Mosby at the Bat: All of the lullaby’s wrestle with ordinary situations before exacerbating the drama with the extraordinary. Ted’s problem began as the struggle most go through trying to decide whether his after-hours rendezvous with a coworker was work or play. The gang’s ribbing of Ted was a high point—the appeal has faded over time but hearing those jibes in rhyme restored some of the charm. The whole thing could have been an excuse for Ted to say, “But how many times have I come home to find my balls blue?” Or for Barney to have stolen another of Ted’s chicks just by getting there first. 
  • Robin Takes the Cake: The easiest win of the night was James Van Der Beek’s reprisal of his role as Robin’s first boyfriend, Simon. “Sandcastles in the Sand” is a fan favorite for a reason. Plus, getting to see Dawson all cleaned up was a treat. His appearance and engagement to Louise Marsh and her, “jaquz,” spawned Robin’s story of misguided vengeance. Stealing Simon’s wedding cake in a slovenly fit of jealousy was not bad enough. Robin had to try and eat the entire thing to boot. Lily’s rhythmic encouragement for Robin bolstered the story as only a rousing Lily speech can.  
  • Player King of New York City: At first, Barney’s story seemed like the one that could be easily dismissed. His imagined tale of a meeting with the players of the city was just a chance for the writers to use Neil Patrick Harris’ panache at donning a costume and an accent on a sliding scale of believability. Tuxedo Charlie’s pretentious tone was good, as was Bronx Donnie’s angered cadence, but it was Captain Bill that pushed this into the success column. First, it took a minute to recognize Barney was buried under there, but his Queens-style mob boss accent was surprisingly on point. Lily has her hand in adding to the fun with her limerick on Barney’s usual type of woman and rebuffing Bronx Donnie’s advances.   

The Quotable:

  • “The last girl he dated, I think righty was her name.”—Robin
  • “Dude, she’s way out of your league! She’s not in daisy dukes, nor squeezed into a Hooter’s tee, and I don’t see a Curves membership dangling from her key. She has no glaring spray tan, no unicorn tattoos, she’s sipping chardonnay not pounding cherry flavored booze. Her makeup isn’t running, she’s not playing with her hair, there’s very little chance she’ll let you put it anywhere.”—Lily  
  • Marshall: “Sometimes Daddies screw up; sometimes Mommies get upset. I really hope this weekend is a memory you’ll forget. So look up at those fireworks, enjoy the falling embers. Ted: “And that kids, is the first thing your cousin Marvin remembers.”

Overall:

“Bedtime Stories” was a risk that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas needed to take. Last night was much more their speed. An inventive and irreverent concept (all rhymes) with a cast that’s creative enough to handle the task. Let’s hope things keep going well. Keeping folks interested isn’t easy.

Rating: 10/10

How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS.

What did you think of the episode?