This week we have one of the show’s regularly scheduled development-free zones, which can go either way on the sitcom-cheesy/genuinely-funny scale. Here we swerve dramatically between both poles.
Lily and Marshall ask Barney and Robin on a double date, which seems harmless enough until we learn Lily and Marshall are terrible at double-dating: In flashbacks we see them scaring away a bevy of suitors, including recurring cab-driver stereotype Ranjit and his wife, with their overeager hosting.
This time, though, they’re sure things will be different! Lily’s got the margaritas ready to go, Marshall’s got his Sammy Hagar–and-waffle story ready, too only, no, it’s exactly the same — Barney and Robin, terrified by Marshall’s intense Gouda-pushing, have a terrible time. But when they pretend otherwise, Marshall and Lily get excited for their double-dating future.
(One nitpick: Accepting the premise that Barney and Robin would have a horrible time spending the night with two of their best friends, why didn’t Ted ever get invited to double-date, either with Robin or any of the many ladies he’s pursued?)
But the lame setup gets us to a solid punch line: Marshall, so excited by the night’s festivities, had already set up a photo-and-song montage at itwasthebestnightever.com (“it was the best night ever / laughter raining down like April showers”). It's even better when we find out Marshall’s been obsessed with photo-and-song-montages, sending them out after activities like ordering Chinese food and attending a cat funeral.
Meanwhile, Ted is living the singles high life, getting a girl from the bar up to his apartment. But when Barney finds out the woman, who just passed out on the couch, lives in Westchester, he dubs Ted “the sexless innkeeper” (i.e., someone whose visitor sleeps over simply to avoid a long trip home). By way of explanation, Barney recites a poem he wrote about his own experience crashing with a sexless innkeeper in Queens, complete with old-timey flashback scenario and old-timey George Washington wig. (Barney and Robin teaming up to rag on Ted? Highly believable.)
Later, when Barney tries to dump Lily and Marshall as if they were a one-night stand (“the U.S. Navy has found intelligent alien life at the bottom of the ocean, and for reasons I can’t explain, Robin and I have been tapped to lead the expedition”), the two quickly move on to another double-date-loving couple. Barney and Robin, suddenly feeling alone, run through your average sitcom breakup scenario (long walks set to sad music, ice-cream binges) before fighting to get Marshall and Lily back with well-placed charades, egg-timers, and a rain-soaked confrontation.
And then one last good gag: Ted gets someone to come home with him for real, and has his own old-timey flashback. Also, if you go to itwasthebestnightever.com, you’ll see an extended version of the song from the episode, refashioned as an Extreme ode. And, yes, Nuno Bettencourt was available.