'How I Met Your Mother' Review: Sunrise
“Sunrise” was horrible looking. The bulk of the How I Met Your Mother budget, I presume, goes towards the salaries of the five stars and Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. I know the show is shot on various sets on a lot in Los Angeles or Burbank or somewhere near both those cities. The construction of set Manhattan is passable. Actually, any street set is fine, but the green screen work made Ringer’s green screen use in its “Pilot” look outstanding. Not all HIMYM green screen work deserves criticism, but “Sunrise” looked horrible. The look of the show is never as bad as the content, but the look was as bad as the content tonight. I’m thinking, in particular, of Jeanette’s bridge meeting with Ted in Central Park, of any Barney roadside scene with his two future bros, and chunks of the beach scenes involving Ted and Robin. The beach scenes had distracting bright light on Ted and Robin, which was needed because of night; however, I thought Hollywood crews could light a scene without the audience noticing the light. Maybe post-production needed to rush the episode out. I’m sure there’s too much sunshine and awesome weather in Los Angeles causing delays.
Anyway, the seventeenth episode of TV seasons usually serves as a transition, and if not a transition then a reminder of what’s important in the coming episodes as the finale looms. “Sunrise” is that reminder of Ted’s attachment to Robin, the catastrophic consequences of Marshall’s argumentative style during domestic disputes, and Barney’s commitment to monogamy and marriage once the sunsets on his wedding day when he, indeed, is wedded. There’s a moment in tonight’s episode where Ted’s used on behalf of the writers to address fans that want Ted to move on from Robin. Ted tells Jeanette he can’t move on. Ted actually shouts the words, because shouting has more meaning in televised sitcoms. The specifics of Ted’s meaningful monologue became jumbled as I listened to it and are even more jumbled now that I think back on it. Ted’s pursuit of Robin’s locket is seen through flashbacks, from Stella to Victoria and finally to Jeanette. Ted lies to himself and his exes about why he needs the locket, though it is clear he wants it for reasons of love, which he later admits to during the horrible looking Central Park scene.
Ted never learned to let go of what he loved. At an early age his best friend, Balloon, floated away because he let go of it. From the young age of seven, Ted vowed never to let go of what he loved again. It happens twice more: Robin’s locket falls into the water beneath the bridge, and Ted lets Robin go on the beach like the balloon he lost as a child. Robin floats away into the sky, which is the punctuation on an atrocious looking episode. Cordelia’s ascension in “Tomorrow” was always my least favorite use of special effects (ignoring the entire run of Once Upon a Time), but Robin’s ascension looks worse. One may even read into that scene Ted’s devout feelings for her. For eight years Ted has told his children more about the woman he didn’t marry. One may read that Robin ascended into a sphere not even which his wife could enter, that he looks on her as a goddess, but anyway.
Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders play these Ted/Robin scenes as monumentally epic events that may indeed create a new galaxy where they’d immediately transport to once an “I love you” is exchanged. The romantic idea of carrying a torch for a woman who has rejected you several times belongs to stories about adolescent growth, not to stories of a thirty-something year old. There’s no spark in their scenes. The writing’s overwrought, the acting overdramatic and overwrought, and I’d like for the character to actually move on. He won’t. By the season finale, when he’s waiting for the train at Farhampton, he looks like Charlie Brown. His shoulders are slumped. He doesn’t notice the pretty brunette with the yellow umbrella. He probably tried to ruin the wedding or something and feels bad or feels bad because Barney and Robin just married and en route romantic honeymoon in sunny Siberia.
The writers emphasize Ted’s attachment to Robin so much because without it meeting the mother wouldn’t mean what it will mean. Ted’s the hero. The end of a hero’s story involves sacrifice and triumph. Ted’s the hero of a romantic comedy where the hero always must give up a girl to get a girl or give up something else to get the girl—maybe pride or whatever.
Marshall wins an imaginary argument but learns that ‘winning’ an argument is a way to lose his relationship. The Italy vs. Judgeship-in-USA was resolved quickly and without any more hurt feelings. Marshall learned not to ‘win’ arguments and Lily realized something. I don’t know. That, too, is jumbled in my brain. I think it’s because of reading this short story before and between How I Met Your Mother that probably bears re-reading. Elsewhere, Barney’s story furthered his transformation from caricature to married caricature.
How I Met Your Mother breaks for two weeks. After the Olympics, CBS airs HIMYM uninterrupted until the series finale. We’ll all be free of HIMYM soon, very, very soon.