Tonight's episode appears to have been inspired by one too many cop movies. Oh, and maybe a rant heard down at the local comedy club about kiddie sports that don't keep score. In other words, there wasn't anything original about it in premise or execution. But as is so often the case, the real fun takes place interstitially.
So let's get the plot, such as it is, out of the way quickly. Inspired by Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon and his famous catchphrase, "I'm too old for this sh--stuff," Ted has created the Murtaugh List: things that, having broken the three-oh barrier, he and Barney are now too old to do. Things like getting your ear pierced, crashing on a friend's futon instead of getting a hotel room, and leaving an annoying two-person message on your answering machine. Since Barney doesn't believe in getting too old for juvenile behavior, such as TP-ing the Lazer Tag place that has banned him for life, he makes a bet with Ted that he can do everything on the list in a twenty-four hour period.
Meanwhile Marshall has taken over coaching some of Lily's students on a basketball team. But the drill-sergeant, extreme humiliation methods that Marshall's father used on him don't go over well with Lily, who points out (to Marshall's horror) that the games aren't scored and everybody gets a participation trophy. Marshall has to try to coach nice at the game instead of yelling at the ref, but he can't help thinking that the whole enterprise is stupid and unrealistic.
This framework serves largely as an excuse for the writers to throw in lots of lists (yay!), allow for amusing asides (Barney, on his pus-filled ear: "Just a little infech"), and throw in one major twist on the setup. After Ted waxes rhapsodic to Robin about how great it will be to be old (comfy shoes and a chair that takes you upstairs), Barney makes a list of stuff Ted is too young to do, and challenges Ted to do it all. However, Ted has no problem doing any of it. In fact, he relishes it. "Yell at neighborhood kids? My pleasure!" He easily wins the bet as a rave-costumed, back-thrown-out, germy-eared Barney can't bring himself to drink warm old Russian beer through Marshall's beer bong. And over at Marshall's basketball arena, at least the way Marshall has told it through the years, his pathetic team gets pounded on by opponents that grow taller with each period and include at least one Teen Wolf. "I know Teen Wolf looks different, kids, but try to make sure he feels included," counsels hippy-dippy Lily as she strums her guitar courtside.
The season's end is approaching, and we've been promised movement on the mother front. Let's treat tonight's ode to sitcom cliches past as a big deep breath before the final sprint.
- The Murtaugh list in toto: pulling an all-nighter, eating an entire pizza in one sitting, hanging posters without frames, get ear pierced, do laundry at mom's house, crash on a friend's futon, put off going to the doctor, drinking shots with strangers, leave an annoying two person message on your answering machine, help someone move out of a sixth floor walkup in echange for pizza and beer, going to a rave, beer bong.
- The Grumpy Old Men list: put on reading glasses, yell at neighborhood kids, eat supper at four o'clock, go to bed at 8 o'clock, get up at 4 am, take forever to answer the phone.
- A gentleman's agreement! Huzzah!
- "My ear hurts so much I can hear it. I can hear my own ear."
- Marshall's erupting frustration during the big game is a thing of beauty, isn't it? "Good thing we're not keeping score, huh? It could be 53-0, it could be something else. It's 53-0."
- Barney making light of his screwed-up back from sleeping on the futon while he's drinking shots with strangers: "Just rockin' a party hunch."
- Lily, threatening Marshall to get him to lay off the kids: "You'll think the time I found your internet search history was a picnic." Marshall, restarting an old argument: "Lily, there are many differences --"
- Pregnancy concealment strategies: the usual assortment of large purses and wraps casually slung over crooked arms, rack of basketballs, guitar.
- "That wasn't a challenge." "Challenge accepted!"