'How I Met Your Mother': Barney's daddy issues

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There are few characters on television as tragic as "How I Met Your Mother's" Barney Stinson ( Neil Patrick Harris). So while we laughed as his paternal quest seemed to come to a premature head during "Cleaning House," there were also tears. Oh, were there tears.

Let's pause for a moment and marvel at the reason for our uncharacteristic display of human emotion: Mr. Neil Patrick Harris. He's handed what would otherwise be an uneventful "HIMYM" moment and turned it into an early season reminder of why we love this show so much. These are characters we root for. And giving Barney the unnecessary depth of embracing his life as a mama's boy, despite briefly, blindly reaching for a father figure in Ben Vereen, is a path a lot of sitcoms wouldn't navigate as effortlessly. It's a gentle reminder that he's not defined by his chauvinistic musings.

Other lessons learned

  • It looks as though that's all we're getting from Barney's quest for his dad. His brother James (Wayne Brady) accidentally gets Ben Vereen, but he happily settles for their pathological lying mother. We hope there's more life to this, if only for the possibility of another Bob Barker cameo.
  • Clearly we were going to get a musical number out of these three Broadway boys. We just never dreamed it would involve auto-tune. That should be worked into the Stinson shtick immediately.
  • Is it just us or is Marshall (Jason Segal) looking particularly dapper this season? We know we're not the only ones who noticed his descent into sloppiness over the course of the first five seasons, but now it seems as though he's cleaning himself up.

Oh, and we didn't get around to addressing the Season 6 opener during the craziness of premiere week, but it was pretty clear that the wedding we got a glimpse of was Barney and Robin's -- yes? At least there's redemption in sight for our damaged hero.

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Photo credit: CBS