Friday, October 28, 2011

How I Met Your Mother and Ewok Appreciation

There are two sitcoms that I watch on CBS: How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. Between the two of them, there's no question which is geekier. In fact, I think it's pretty safe to say that Big Bang Theory is the geekiest, nerdiest sitcom on television. Now, I love BBT's constant mentions of Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, the Justice League, Game of Thrones, etc. (by the way, Leonard was right to bargain down Stuart for Longclaw in a recent episode--his initial quote of $250 is $10 above the current price on Amazon). But Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj's nerdiness is kind of the main point of the show. The geeky references are expected.

The five friends on How I Met Your Mother, on the other hand, are not so obviously geeky. They have a wide range of professions: teacher, lawyer, architect, reporter, and whatever it is Barney does for Goliath National Bank. They spend a good chunk of their free time socializing at a local bar. The three who aren't married have a steady stream of relationships (though the frequency of romantic partners varies wildly). They seem like fairly normal people (except for Barney) that you might expect to meet in NYC. They'd be a really cool group of friends to hang out with.

That's why I love it so much when HIMYM lets its geekiness shine through. Ted is the only one of the bunch with a classically nerdy job, as the enthusiastic architect who perhaps overestimates architecture's universal appeal. It's a position I appreciate and relate to. I saw right through the joke when Ted, in response to Robin's question of what famous people would be at the architect's gala he was attending, answered "Lenny Kravitz. He's a rock star." (After an excited Robin manages to weasel her way in, it turns out he was actually referring to Leonard Kravitz, some wizened old--but famous in the architecture world, we are assured--guy). Yeah, we have our own "rock stars" in oceanography. You haven't heard of them.

Ted and Marshall both have strong geeky streaks. They have been known to hold the occasional sword fight, and to play with an Indiana Jones whip. In a recent episode, a photo of Marshall, Lily, and Ted dressed for Halloween as C-3PO, R2-D2, and "the robot Luke's Uncle almost bought from the Jawas", respectively, highlighted Ted's role as third wheel. There have been other Star Wars references before--I recall Ted calling "dibs" on a girl who compared the snowstorm outside to Hoth. Star Wars is, I suppose, a popular enough franchise to be only borderline geeky, though I'd say dressing as an obscure Star Wars character or naming any Star Wars planet crosses the line into true geek territory. Still, I don't think there have been any geeky references as ongoing and central to a HIMYM episode as in the recent "Field Trip", (Episode 7.5--I'm a couple weeks behind, I know).

It all starts when environmental lawyer Marshall complains that his boss seems to be going a teddy bear. Ted proposes that maybe his boss is being like an Ewok: "Cute and cuddly around the village but once the battle starts it'll smash in your metal skull with giant swinging logs." Barney's new girlfriend Nora enters to hear mention of Ewoks and declares her distaste for them, which leads Barney to conclude he can't date her anymore. This culminates in a slide show that Barney prepared all about Ewoks (anatomy, culture, etc.), ending with a graph explaining why he can't date someone who doesn't love Ewoks:
Return of the Jedi came out in 1983. Anyone older than 10 at the time found them overly cute and cloying. Anyone under 10 at the time loved them because they reminded them of their teddy bears. Thus, given Nora's hatred of Ewoks, she must be over 37, a far cry from the 29 she claimed to be, not to mention a bit old for Barney's tastes. Barney's Ewok Line slide:

As it turned out, Nora was in fact 29, she was just a latecomer to Star Wars, having not watched it until the previous year. So really, Barney's Ewok Appreciation Rule should be amended to account for this:
Anyone who dislikes Ewoks must have been over 10 years old when they first saw Return of the Jedi.
I wonder how often this actually holds up. I have certainly encountered both Ewok-hating and Ewok-loving people. Whatever their reasons for loving or hating them, I'm curious how many of them fit this rule of age when first introduced to Ewoks.

I certainly fit the rule. I've always loved Ewoks. I don't know exactly how old I was the first time I watched Return of the Jedi, but I was definitely a well-established fan by the time I went to Disney World at age 7 and rode on Star Tours (I remember posing for photos with someone dressed as Wicket, and my younger brother bought an Ewok stuffed animal). So I was at most 6 the first time my parents let me watch it.

What about everyone else? Maybe I should set up a poll, but at least sound off in the comments where you fall in the Ewok debate, and let me know whether you fit Barney's Ewok Appreciation Rule.

As an extra Easter egg for us Star Wars fans, there was also a scene in which Marshall's co-workers can be heard singing "Yub Nub" in the background during an office party. I laughed pretty hard when I recognized it. And here's a video of Barney's full Ewok slide show. During the episode he just clicks through most of it, but the kind folks at CBS put the full size images into a clip for your viewing pleasure:

I particularly like the "Ewok Styles" slide (some of them look familiar...), and the "Ewok Diet" slide, showing Han Solo. Also, apparently their average weight is 50 kg, but their average fecal deposit is 49 kg. Lovely.


RAY J said...

You're going to LOVE my son's Halloween costume =D

He's going to be a baby Ewok!!!

I'll definitely post pictures on both blogs and Twitter =)

Dan said...

I flipping love both of them. Sadly, we're a series behind on HIMYM in england, so I have to stream it online. Every tuesday, Bam, i'm on it.

Incidentally, I don't like ewoks. But I didn't see return of the jedi until like 2 years ago, pretty shocking considering my nerdiness... so i think it holds up.

Andhari said...

Ewoks are really cute! Anyone is crazy for saying otherwise :p

BBT and HIMYM are two of my most favorite TV shows ever. I always want to have a boyfriend like Ted Mosby :)

ps. Thanks for commenting in my blog. I had a really long hiatus :)

Eleni said...

Ray J - That's such a great idea. I bet it'll be so cute!

Dan - Nice, that's one more data point in favor of Barney's rule.

Andhari - I know, Ted is so cute. He has his flaws, but they're funny flaws mostly. I think I'd be a good pairing for him ;)

It's always nice when someone pops up on my feed that I haven't seen in a while. Good to catch up :)