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Episode: Who Wants to Be a Godparent? (Season 8, Episode 4)
Synopsis: Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) finally get to spend time with the gang again now that they have a nanny. They ditch the gang almost immediately because they want some alone time, but when they finally start walking around New York City they start worrying about who will raise Marvin if they die. After a lot of arguing, they agree that none of their parents should raise Marvin. They tell the gang that they’re trying to decide which one of them will become Marvin’s legal guardian and so Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Ted (Josh Radnor), and Robin (Cobie Smulder) all proceed to try bribing them to be tops on the list. Marshall and Lily then decide to put on a game show in their apartment featuring a big wheel with categories and parenting scenarios to decide who will become Marvin’s legal guardian.
As the gang plays the game, we learn about how each person would explain how Barney and Lily died, how they’d discipline little Marvin, and how they’d explain the birds and the bees. Eventually, they all get into an argument about how Marshall and Lily have been neglectful friends while they feel that Ted, Barney, and Robin don’t understand what it’s like to be parents. Eventually, Marshall and Lily come to the realization that as they were trying to decide which one to be their godparent, they don’t know what’s going on in any of their lives because of the “eight or higher” rule. Eventually, they decide to revoke the rule and spend the rest of the night catching up with everyone. Marshall and Lily eventually decide that all three will be named godparents.
The season 2 episode “Showdown” where Barney goes on The Price is Right is one of the all-time great episodes in the history of the show, so it was great to see a game show format come back where the whole gang could be involved. We rarely see simplicity on this level in an episode. Only two locations take up 95% of the episode and there’s very little else going on outside of everyone taking part in the game show. The structure of the episode also allowed us to see Ted, Robin, and Barney handle Marvin with their distinct personalities like Barney treating him like an adult right away, Robin being overly honest and straightforward with him, and Ted handling him like he’s a sensitive and emotional about everything.
The jokes were continuous throughout the heart of the episode, but there weren’t any home runs the way there were in the previous episode “Nannies.” Still, catching the little things in this episode were pretty funny like how there are hockey skates and a canadian fold-out chair in Marvin’s room when Robin has him, and how Marvin is always wearing a suit around Barney and a flannel shirt around Ted. Barney even mocks Ted’s scenarios.
There weren’t too many laughs in the first part of the episode and laughs disappeared in the last part of the episode. What was impressive though was how “Who Wants to Be a Godparent?” can function as a stand-alone episode. There’s little story arc continuity because Robin’s boyfriend Nick (Michael Trucco) and Ted’s girlfriend Victoria (Ashley Williams) appear for less than a minute combined. Nothing is spoiled by knowing what happens in the future of this episode and the laughs will hold up upon multiple viewings.
Although I’m hoping that we get to enjoy some funny episodes involving both Nick and Victoria (especially Victoria, forget Nick) because they bring out a lot of funny moments with their respective couples and it would be nice to appreciate them before they get dumped. As we learned earlier this season, neither will last through the month. Ultimately though, this episode falls short of a B+ grade because the sappy ending failed to connect the way it should have and the first and last parts of the episode didn’t hold up to the awesomeness of the game show.
While there were a lot of funny lines, this one was my favorite: When Ted uses a hand puppet called Professor Infosaurus to rap Marvin a song about having sex, Barney immediately calls him out:
Barney: “I’m sorry, don’t you need to actually have had sex in order to explain it?”
Ted: “Professor Infosaurus also has a rap about ignoring bullies.”
Barney was definitely the funniest hypothetical parent and he also successfully mocked Ted’s use of Professor Infosaurus when asked how they’d handle Marvin’s first heartbreak in the lightning round.
Barney: Here’s how you’d handle heartbreak.
(Flash to Professor Infosaurus talking between Ted and a teenage Marvin sitting on his bed.)
Professor Infosaurus: *in a high-pitched voice* Cheer up, squirt. There are plenty of other wonderful women out there!
(Camera pans out to show Marvin holding the puppet and Ted crying.)
Ted: *crying* But I thought that she was the one!
(Marvin sighs and throws the puppet in Ted’s lap.)
Marvin: I’ll be at Uncle Barney’s.