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Mistakenly, I thought, after the start of tonight’s How I Met Your Mother, that the episode would focus on Ted’s tramp stamp. Earlier this season, Ted got a lovely little butterfly tattooed onto his lower back, and tonight he was in the process of getting it removed. What the episode really spent its time on though, instead of the tramp stamp, was why it would be wrong for Ted to date the doctor removing Ted’s body art. Frankly, it was all very disappointing.

The plot revolved around Barney explaining to Ted (and the rest of the group) the 8 steps present in every "Platinum Rule" story: attraction, bargaining, submission, perks, the tipping point, purgatory, confrontation, and fallout. Now, for those who don’t know (and you wouldn’t know if you didn’t watch the episode because it is entirely a Barneyism), the Platinum Rule states that one should never, ever, ever love thy neighbor (Barney based the rule on his mistaken idea that the "golden rule" is "love thy neighbor" instead of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you").

The entire episode explained how over, and over, and over again the members of the HIMYM gang tried, at one time or another, to love thy neighbor and the problems that inevitably resulted. The only reason tonight’s tale worked at all was because of the time jumping from one story to the next and back again and forth again — there was a tale inside of a tale inside of a tale, inside of a tale. It is true that the show often jumps around in time, and usually does so with good results, but here it felt as though all the jumping was to cover up the complete lack of story.

The individual tales of loving thy neighbors were decent enough — Barney dating Wendy the waitress, Robin dating the sportscaster, and Marshall & Lily couple-dating the couple next door — but none were truly funny. The best moment in the various stories was Robin’s "Iron Man" sportscaster melting down on live TV following the demise of their relationship, but as that belonged to someone who isn’t a series regular, it too was disappointing.

Additionally, with four individual storylines taking place nothing really happened in any of them. There were no real surprises along the way either. In the end, it turned out that Ted wasn’t even going on a real date with the doctor. He thought it was a real date but, due to an AMA (American Medical Association) rule stating that doctors cannot date their patients, it wasn’t. The episode did leave the door open though for Stella and Ted to date in the future, as old-Ted’s voiceover contained a line about that being the end of his dating Stella "at least for the time being."

Perhaps the best moment tonight was Ted complaining to Barney about all of Barney’s rules and Ted’s being sick of them. I completely disagree with Ted, I think Barney’s rules are great, and I liked the moment because it reminded me of some of the older ones, like the "Lemon Law," which states that on a first date, if you realize the whole thing is going horribly and you want out, and you can just bail without any consequence. There are no hard feelings with the Lemon Law, you just hand them one of the cards that Barney has available for download and printing on his blog and you’re done. The Lemon Law — it’s a classic.

My pick for best quote of the night:

It goes to Barney of course, who after messing up Ted’s hair in order to get him to stay in the apartment a little longer says, "which brings us to step six. You’ve finally realized you’ve made a huge mistake and now you have to live with it. Step six is called ‘purg… wait for it… keep waiting… keep-waiting-for-all-of-eternity-only-to-discover-there’s-no-escape-atory.’"

So, the "fall finale" of How I Met Your Mother has come and gone. This fall definitely featured some truly funny episodes, but, I think that most people would say that the show hasn’t been as funny this season as it has in the past. Where did they go wrong? How can they right the ship? There’s still a ton of funny to be found on the series, where should the writers go to look for it?

You know where you can look for funny (though I don’t promise you’ll find any)? Why, The TV and Film Guy’s Reviews, of course

Posted by:Josh Lasser