How I Met Your Mother: “The Fortress”

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Grade: B-

Airdate: 3/18/13

I was pleasantly surprised by this episode of How I Met Your Mother. It started with a witty joke, followed by an over-the-top Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) antic and then what seemed like a shameless pop culture reference. When Older Ted (Bob Saget) started explaining the widely popular television show “Woolworhty Manor” by probably reading the first paragraph of Downton Abbey‘s Wikipedia page verbatim,  I groaned thinking back to The Hobbit references in “Ring Up.”

But the episode surprised me. I am still glad that Downton Abbey did not allow the show to use it name — it’s far too dignified for that. Marshall (Jason Segel) and Ted (Josh Radnor) keep watching the rip-off Downton without Lily (Alyson Hannigan) because she is spending so much at her new job of being The Captain”s (Kyle MacLachlan) art consultant.

At first it seemed like another weak pop culture reference because Marshall and Ted aren’t two guys who would typically watch Downton together. But, as Lily spends more time away from them and starts becoming a billionaire snob like The Captain, Marshal and Ted are mistaken for a gay couple; two guys that would watch Downton together.

HIMYM, is that a theme? I’m impressed. Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney’s plot line didn’t have much of a theme, except crazy Barney features in his apartment. Robin is trying to get him to sell it and holds on open house. Barney goes through every ridiculous feature to try to turn off potential buyers. Like most jokes on this show, if they had done it three times it would have been funny but seven was a little much.

Marshall and Ted bring Marvin to the open house and get mistaken for his dads. Ted is already speaking in a posh British accent and Marshall decides to act sassy — it was a little much — and go along with it. Lily then comes and everyone mistakes her for being homophobic when she tries to get Masrhall to listen to her. With Neil Patrick Harris being the star of this show, you’d think they would have had a couple gay themes before but I think this was a first.

One of the girls at the open house is incredibly attracted to Ted, who she thinks is a posh, gay Brit, but of course she can get him to make an exception for her. That joke bumped the episode up a letter grade. Barney gives Ted a hug at the end of the episode for using the play and sleeping with her.

In the end, Robin turned down potential buyers because she took them insulting Barney’s apartment as insulting Barney. Lily told The Captain she needs to work less and spend more time with Marshall.

My feelings on the episode were continuously up and down. The bad Downton rips got on my nerves, but the show’s themes were used well. The gay jokes were funny, but Marshall’s gay impression was a little too much. Overall, it might have been the best episode in a while. That only means next week is going to be terrible. I will try not to be too disappointed.

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