There are only so many storylines you can squeeze out of sitcom characters trying to have a baby, and with Monday night's installment, How I Met Your Mother covered two of them in one half hour. "Baby Talk" took the obvious bits about naming the kid and trying to control the sex of the baby and gave them a nice, enjoyable How I Met twist, the key being the antics Marshall Eriksen. The secondary storyline involving Robin's annoying new co-anchor was uneven however, preventing the episode from being a complete win.
Marshall and Lily are one of my favorite couples on television right now, with all the pairings on Modern Family following closely behind. The series has fully established the ease of their love, which makes them utterly believable, even in the zaniest of circumstances. "Baby Talk" wasn't exactly over-the-top for the couple, but it had its moments. During the opening tease, I loved how sickeningly disgusted they were at the names they suggested for their friends' nameless child. Later, their discussions over the names they did like offered up some enjoyable flashbacks as arguments against. Every name Lily disliked was associated with a child she had once taught, including Johnny who ate the class goldfish and Ryan who stabbed her in the leg with a pencil. There was also a very dated reference to Pearl Jam's "Jeremy," which unfortunately, even if you got it, wasn't very funny.
Though Lily's objections were consistent, Marshall had the best and funniest reasons to argue against a name. "Tara" gave us a flashback to Marshall singing a la Boys II Men to the hottest girl in school. He even had a cane. And "Esther" took us back to an unseen stripper. She didn't dance, but the implied things she was doing while naked were some of the best laughs of the episode. Supplying mild laughs were Marshall and Lily's attempts to control the sex of their child. A Skype visit from Marshall's dad gave us the relatively simple rules for conceiving a boy: eat pickled herring, point Lily north and drop your man sack in ice. These were fine bits, made better by Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel as Lily and Marshall. The episode was smart to end on a sweet moment where they agree on a name, punctuated by a reason why Lily can no longer allow that name to be an option.
Overall, "Baby Talk" had its fun moments but it couldn't quite deliver enough high-quality How I Met Your Mother laughs we know the series is capable of. Still, credit must go to the episode for finally pointing out how inappropriate the phrase "Who's your Daddy?" is in a sexual context.
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