The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 14

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 2 2010 7:21 AM

The How I Met Your Mother Shame Index: Episode 14

The Shame Index recently retired as a sports fan, but he's not so far removed from the sporting life that this episode's significant charms were lost on him. How I Met Your Mother fans were abuzz a couple of months ago when news broke that Yankee heartthrob Nick Swisher would make a cameo this season. But in the event, the show was stolen by another sports figure: CBS's own Jim Nantz.

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—Nantz: Time 's James Poniewozik asked last night on Twitter whether Barney's dream interview, were his imagination not circumscribed by CBS's corporate imperatives, would have been conducted by Bob Costas, not Nantz. While Costas is the bigger name, and thus might have been Barney's true wish, the Shame Index isn't sure he'd have been the funnier choice. That's because Costas is funny—a quick wit, and a practiced raconteur of comic sports tales. (See, e.g., this endearingly lo-fi compilation of his Letterman appearances.) Nantz, on the other hand, is forever playing straight man to more lively color commenators and sports personalities. But Nantz's status as the milquetoast man-in-the-blue-network-badged-blazer is what made it so hilarious to hear him say things like "Over two hundred women, spanning six continents, 17 nationalities, 74 sexual positions, and not a single fatty." And "I think she has a thing for the Barnacle." And "You don't open an e-mail from Phil Simms in front of your kids." And " Our toothbrush?"

—The baseball gags: Ted eating a hot dog and calling for his beer at MacLaren's as if he were at a ballgame; the amazing pitcher/catcher consultation between Ted and Barney (he shakes off "the heater" and "high and outside," before deciding on the girl with the mini-burgers, "the slider"); the hats Marshall makes commemorating Barney's historic feat ("I was going to do shirts but then you have to guess sizes, feelings get hurt, it's a mess").

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—The gradual realization that Lily, Marshall, Ted, and Robin had for long stretches of the previous eight years been using the same toothbrush. (Though how did this happen? How did no one notice when a new toothbrush appeared and they hadn't bought it? Marshall and Lily might have just assumed the other spouse had replaced it. But Ted?)

—Marshall's sudden realization that his use of a certain performance enhancing drug has led him to present a certain well-publicized side effect.

—"Barney's whole life is a cry for help."

—"Phil Rizzuto. Holy cow that guy had game."

—"Mookie Wilson: Is that a thing?"

—Barney's induction into the Hall of Game. Specifically, Marshall's wish that Barney's performance be recalled for generations, which set up Ted's sarcastic "Yeah, I'm totally going to sit my kids down one day and tell about how Barney nailed seven girls in a row." Which in turn set up Ted 2030 to ask "Am I a bad dad?" As much as we HIMYM fans enjoy Ted's stories, it's good for the series to acknowledge from time to time the absurdity of the conceit that he is telling these ribald tales to his adolescent children. The kids nailed the reaction shot.

Shameful :

—Cook Poo: Gross, vaguely offensive, not funny.

—More romantic embarrassment for Robin. When are the writers going to give her a break? Is she really going to be this hard-up until the not-so-eagerly awaited Don plot kicks in?

Don't look now, but HIMYM has a little streak of its own going: a nice string of episodes since the mid-season break. Or is it a jinx to mention it?

Previous Shame Indices: Episode 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13

[Update, 9:12 a.m.: The Shame Index is ashamed to admit that he originally misspelled Jim Nantz's name.]

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.

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