Because the writers apparently won't rest until they grind everything we used to love about HIMYM down into a fine powder, Robin's pop tartlet alter ego, Robin Sparkles, made another appearance on last night's episode. Like everyone else, I loved Ms. Sparkles when she first appeared on the scene way back in Season 2 (having lived in Toronto for a four-year stint in the late '80s, that "Let's Go to the Mall" video brought back a lot of memories -- most of them positive obviously, because if there's one thing we learned from this show, Canadians are endlessly positive), but it's been a case of diminishing returns with each of her subsequent cameos, to the point where I was actually dreading her return tonight. But you know what? It actually turned out all right. Nothing will ever top her first chart-topper, but if "P.S. I Love You" proves to be her swan song (and I truly hope it is), there are worse ways to go out.
Let's get everyone else's business out of the way first before reconnecting with the Sparkly One. So Ted has had a meet cute with a new
time-killer love interest, Jeanette, played by Abby Elliott. (Between this and her recent 2 Broke Girls gig, the former SNL cast member seems to be on a mission to appear on every CBS sitcom over the course of the 2012-2013 season -- either that or her dad Chris a.k.a. Grandpa Mickey wanted to make sure she could pay her rent this month and pulled strings to get her the gig.) Anyway, Ted first spots Jeanette on the subway and is bewitched by her off-kilter smile and the fact that she's reading the same book as he is. (For the record, the tome is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Knowing Ted, he's totally hiding a Star Wars comic inside it so he can read something he'll actually enjoy while still appearing sophisticated.) He contemplates finding her, but she finds him first, tracking him down at school. (Wait -- he still has that teaching gig? Didn't his new building just open a few episodes ago?) His friends are convinced he's the target of a crazy stalker, but he's equally convinced that their relationship is destiny and a perfect illustration of his patented Dobbler-Dahmer Theory, which holds that "if both people are into each other, a big romantic gesture works." The more he learns about Jeanette, however, the more he comes to realize that, no, she really is a crazy stalker, one who has been following him for almost a year and a half now. Rather than run screaming from her apartment, he makes the only move that Ted Mosby could make: he hooks up with her. So it looks like Elliott will have a steady paycheck for a little while. Thanks dad! (On the plus side, before falling into Jeanette's crazy stalker arms, Ted does casually mention that "before a man meets the women he'll marry, he'll make one final, horrible mistake,"so that means we're only one guest star away from meeting the mother! Unless the writers are just lying again, which is always a distinct possibility.)
In Marshall and Lily news (yes, they are still technically characters on this show), they spend the episode trying to convince Ted that Jeanette's actions fall on the Dahmer side of the Dobbler-Dahmer Theory, using their own destiny-forged first encounter as a reference point. But in the end it turns out that Lily has been lying all this time and she stalked Marshall after catching a glimpse of him at orientation. Glad you got that worked out, you two. Wanna go, oh I dunno, take care of your baby now?
Let's bounce on over to Barney next, who sets the stage for the return of Robin Sparkles. After hearing his new fiancé mention that she was once obsessed with a guy back in Canada, the not-at-all jealous groom-to-be decides to do a little digging into her past. Digging that involves him breaking into her secret stash of personal teenage diaries and then, when those fail to reveal the name of her crush, flying to Vancouver and interrogating a series of her ex-boyfriends (including the recently unemployed James Van Der Beek) over a box of Tim Hortons' finest. And given how often the show has gone to the Tim Hortons well, I really shouldn't find it this funny anymore -- but I still do, sorry. (Read that last word with a Canadian accent.) The Beek turns him on to a 1996 episode of the hit MuchMusic series Underneath the Tunes chronicling Robin Sparkles' downfall. In the interest of saving the best for last, let's fast-forward to the end: it turns out that the object of her teen obsession was David Letterman's own Paul Shaffer. Everyone has a good laugh over it and she and Barney seal their continued love for each other with a kiss.
Bo-ring! Anyway, back to the good stuff. So this Underneath the Tunes video unspools and it's pretty darn funny, a headlong plunge into Canadian-themed craziness packed with Canadian pop culture memorabilia, jokes about Canadians and dozens of cameos by Canadian mega-stars (no that's not an oxymoron) like the aforementioned Late Show bandleader, as well as Jason Priestley, Alex Trebek, Dave Thomas (as a record producer sadly and not as Doug McKenzie) and, best of all, Dave Coulier, who denies being the cause of Robin Sparkles' Alanis Morissette makeover and the subject of her amusingly anti-love song, "P.S. I Love You." (That he accompanies these denials with his old "cut it out" move is just the icing on the Coulier Cake.) If we could split the grades up, Underneath the Tunes would get a solid A, while the rest of the episode weighs in at a C+. So let's give it a B- and call it a night, thankful that at least one aspect of this show hasn't been completely desecrated. 15 episodes down, 8 to go... for this season.