Sunday, November 22, 2015

Have a Happy Blitzgiving

"Life moves pretty fast, Barney. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it."

Marshall (Jason Segel)

My guess is that it is difficult for TV writers to face the task of writing a truly creative holiday–themed episode.

In the scheme of things, television is still relatively new in the human experience, but its growth was so explosive, especially after the emergence of cable (which gave most people access to more than the traditional three broadcast networks), that it must have become even more daunting as the years have gone by to have to write a holiday episode that doesn't seem to be a rehash of something that has been done before — perhaps many times before.

On this night five years ago, I thought How I Met Your Mother's episode demonstrated genuine creativity in the episode "Blitzgiving."

It all began when Ted (Josh Radnor) decided to leave the bar early because he was to host his first Thanksgiving for the gang the next day, but he was told not to leave, lest he inherit the curse of The Blitz, so called because, as legend had it, it originated with a fellow whose last name was Blitz and was passed along over the years, finally ending up with a college friend named Steve (Jorge Garcia).

Whenever Steve left his circle of friends early, incredible things happened. On one occasion, a coed wearing nothing but a towel wandered into the dorm room, explained she had gone into the wrong room by mistake and promptly dropped her towel. On another occasion, when The Blitz left the bar, the tap broke and beer was free to everyone.

Ted scoffed at the Curse of The Blitz — but he changed his tune when he woke up on Thanksgiving morning and found his apartment in a shambles. The whole gang was there, including Zoey (Jennifer Morrison), Ted's enemy, an activist who opposed the demolition of an historic building — a project for which Ted was responsible.

That was apparently the thing that upset Ted the most, that his friends would spend time with his enemy.

But it turned out that the worst part for Ted was that Steve the Blitz was there for the whole thing — and, consequently, passed the Curse of The Blitz to Ted, who was sleeping peacefully in his apartment.

"I'm finally free," Steve proclaimed. "You have no idea what I'ved missed all these years. ... Colors seem so bright now."

The whole gang got a bit free the night before and, at some point, wound up in Ted's apartment, where Robin (Cobie Smulders) tried to dance on Ted's stove but broke the oven door when trying to step up on top of the stove.

(I always wondered how Ted was able to sleep through that.)

Unable to use his stove, Ted and the gang went in search of another place where they could cook his culinary creation, a turkey stuffed with a smaller turkey. They didn't have much luck.

They finally decided to go to Zoey's — and discovered that Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) was no longer with the group. He was laughing in the back seat of another cab — until it dawned on him that leaving the group early made him the new Blitz.

In Barney's absence, the group had become part of the Thanksgiving Day parade. Robin related to Barney that Ted had been handed a microphone by Tony Bennett and had proceeded to sing "Twist and Shout."

"Life moves pretty fast, Barney," Marshall (Jason Segel) observed. "If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you might miss it."

A worthwhile holiday observation in a world that seems to go faster with each passing day.

But How I Met Your Mother wasn't finished teaching a holiday lesson. Ted and Zoey had a lesson about friends becoming enemies, which I won't spoil for you if you haven't seen the episode. At a time when the world is fearful of terrorists, it probably depends on your political leanings whether you think the assertion that enemies can become friends is a valid one.

And don't worry about Barney. In typical Barney fashion, he was where something amazing happened, and Steve was not — and reacquired the curse.

I thought it was a clever holiday episode — and a welcome change from the episodes that did the obvious and incorporated Indians and pilgrims in one way or another.