“It’s Robin Sparkles 3, y’all!”
With these words from Barney, HIMYM initiates fan service, season six style. Running gags galore, a near-slap, Canada jokes, a song, and the most uncomfortably filthy innuendo-laden kids’ show I hope ever to see. Sure, the plot—such as it is—about Lily and Robin pre-emptively breaking up their friendship over Lily’s baby obsession is lightweight in the extreme. But it’s worth it for the other half of the meditation on friendship, featuring Ted hating almost every moment of having his high school buddy Punchy in town. Ah, Ted eating his words and getting punched. It’s like the other side of the sweet Robin Sparkles coin, and it pays out just as well.
I love the way the writers shoehorn us into Barney’s meta-announcement (referring to the two previous Robin Sparkles episodes, “Robin Sparkles” and “Sandcastles in the Sand”) in the cold open, as Barney shows off his latest getting-laid aid: a boutonniere. (“The everyday boutonniere. By Stinson.”) Robin resists the idea, but then concedes that suits would be pretty boring without them, whereupon Barney demands satisfaction in the form of the DVD he conveniently has in his suit pocket: Space Teens, the long-rumored Canadian children’s show that introduced the Robin Sparkles character.
For a moment after the show starts, Barney thinks it’s going to be a porno and executes a knee-slide across the apartment to take it out in an epic slap. (You may recall that Barney had “Robin did porn” in the original season two slap bet.) But then it turns out to be only everything short of porn: slow-motion jumping as the spaceship encounters turbulence, Robin and her sidekick Jessica Glitter handling a huge joystick to explode vector-graphics asteroids on the viewscreen as Alan Thicke gives them math questions, and a song about beavers. I wouldn’t mind if the sudden blue screen became a running gag; it’s hilarious here twice over, as first Barney takes out the DVD (the joystick gag being better enjoyed in private) and then Robin ejects it to protest Barney and Ted’s giggling at the beaver song. “It is a sweet song about friendship, and beavers are adorable!” she asserts. “No argument here,” Barney mutters.
The absence of Jessica Glitter, former R. Sparkles BFF, in Robin’s current social circle, and Ted’s employment of math (and horrible couplets for some reason) to deduce that Robin dropped Jessica when the latter had a baby, leads Lily to believe that Robin’s withdrawal from their normal best-friends routine is preparation for a total breakup when Lily actually has a child. Naturally she has to learn from Glitter—now playing organ for Rangers’ home games and none too convincingly either—that it was she who stopped having time for Robin after the baby came. Everybody ends up at the Hoser Hut singing the beaver song, and I do mean everyone. “Two beavers are better than one—ask anyone!” Ted is even reconciled with annoying one-note Punchy after learning that far from Punchy having no life in Cleveland, Punchy was concerned that Ted was depressed about having no life in New York: “Lives in a tiny apartment nowhere near Times Square, still single, no backyard!” Punchy explains to his girlfriend—no, to his fiancee, and Punchy’s asking Ted to be the best man!
Wait, a wedding? Pause and rewind, sports fans. Could it be The Wedding? Given that it’s likely we’ll see that wedding before the end of season six, and there’s no way Robin and Barney are getting back in the saddle that fast or that definitively, I’m wagering that Ted ends up at Punchy’s wedding with a boutonniere at a church that will look very familiar. And that’s a subtle note for an episode that’s otherwise a frothy confection designed for instant gratification.
- Lily puts Robin off her meal by observing that what plays a huge role in helping a woman conceive is cervical mucus.
- Space Teens does have all the trappings of a porno, including a delusional girl who thinks it’s a stepping stone to mainstream success.
- I have to call bullshit on Barney’s lengthy string of reality show contestant dismissal catchphrases. Not that I don’t enjoy him doing a bunch of accents ‘n’ such, but it was way too much of a good thing. I was happy the relatively little-seen Work of Art’s embarrassing “Your work of art didn’t work for us” was included, but that was in the first list of the things. Coulda stopped after one segment, guys.
- Space Teens is two average Canadian teenagers who solve crimes in space using math. Which led to the producers of Milky Way Mathletes trying to sue Robin at one point.
- Ted’s poetic solution to the mystery of the missing BFF: “When Glitter’s womb a fruit did bear, Robin said ‘to hell with this, I’m outta … hare.’”
- Marshall starts to tell Lily how he tracked down Glitter by listing all the keyboard-related occupations she might have entered after her Space Teens keytar career, but the truth is that Barney tracked her down to try to buy her costume. (Marshall implores her, “Glitter … be cool.”)
- “That best friends stuff—hockey, bow-hunting for caribou, math—it all goes out the window.
- “True story. Un histoire vrai.”