By Matt Ern, Columnist
How I Met Your Mother-"Disaster Averted"
As much as I love Jason Segel, it's not often that Marshal is the highlight of an episode of "How I Met Your Mother." But this week's unusually strong episode also had some of the best Marshal-moments the show has served up in years.
As the gang recounts the story of Hurricane Irene to Robin's boyfriend Kevin, Barney begs Marshal to let him take off the ducky tie because he's meeting Nora's parents in two days. The week leading up to the hurricane was particularly stressful for Marshal, whose health insurance had just run out after he quit his job leaving him two uncovered weeks before he could be added to Lily's plan.
Marshal spends the week in a state of constant panic, fearing that death is all around him. Segel delivers a great monologue in front of his mantle about the grim reaper. All of Marshal's fantasies about how he might die involve a bear attacking him (whether he's on the way to get bagels or just washing up in Barney's bathroom).
And best of all, the episode invoked Marshal and Barney's slap bet, which often leads to some of the show's best moments. Barney eventually trades wearing the ducky tie for three extra slaps from Marshal, two of which Marshal takes immediate advantage of.
The icing on the cake was a heartwarming ending where Barney and Robin make out in the back of a cab after making fun of themselves for almost kissing the day of the hurricane.
"Disaster Averted" is really just a fun episode, between all the slapping and bear costumes we also got great "everyone make fun of Ted" moments and Robin being totally underwhelmed with the storm ("This is bikini weather in Canada!"). Hopefully the show can keep up its momentum next week.
Hell on Wheels- "Hell on Wheels"
If AMC has proven anything, it's that it knows how to make a successful drama. "Mad Men" cleans up Best Dramatic Series Emmys as easily as Bryan Cranston wins Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work on "Breaking Bad." Toss in the ratings giant that is "The Walking Dead" and "Hell on Wheels" seems destined to be a hit. And the pilot almost lives up to these expectations.
"Hell on Wheels" takes place during reconstruction era America as the track for the transcontinental railroad is being laid out. Cullen Bohannon is a former confederate soldier who heads west looking for work on the railroad. But it soon becomes apparent he has ulterior motives and is actually investigating the death of his wife.
The pilot touches on a lot of great conflicts of the time period that are sure to make for great episodes in the future. Former soldiers regret the horrible things they saw and did during the war. A Native American is baptized and now finds himself stuck between two worlds. A land surveyor is murdered by Native Americans. Throw in a corrupt business man abusing government grants to build the railroad, and you have the trappings of a pretty interesting season to come.
The scene of the Native American attack was genuinely terrifying, with palpable tension. They attack the settlers without remorse, scalping and killing. The scene was easily more dramatic than anything that has been going on in "The Walking Dead" this season, which is probably more of a commentary on how that show has failed. The point is, the Native Americans of "Hell on Wheels" are not to be taken lightly and almost any scene featuring them is sure to be great.
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia- "The Anti-Social Network"
This week the gang took a not-so-timely look at Facebook and Twitter and how they're changing the world. FX's other Thursday night comedy "The League" also did an episode centered around Facebook this week, and while it was no more relevant than "Sunny's" it was a hell of a lot funnier.
After Dee gets the gang to go to a gin bar with a great web presence they decide that Paddy's needs its own Facebook group and a viral video. Predictably Frank misunderstands what a "viral video" is and endeavors to create a "virus video." Frank's video depicts an illness people get at Paddy's and then informs the viewer they now have a computer virus.
But the bulk of the episode revolved around the rest of the gang trying to get even with a man who shushed them at the gin bar. Dee and Mac agree the sensible way to track the guy down is through Facebook, but Charlie and Dennis decide to look for him the old fashion way.
Dennis and Charlie ask around for the guy at the bar and eventually get a cartoonist in the park to sketch a picture of him based on their descriptions. Their storyline falls a little flat. Mac and Dee's plot is funnier, but not by much.
As they attempt to track down the Shusher, they realize that no one is really who they seem to be online. The Facebook profile they're investigating is run by a jealous ex-girlfriend who gives them his address. Then at the address they find a different woman who spends her free time making fake online profiles up so that woman will send her their hair.
The episode is a bit of a disappointment coming off last week's great one, and an even bigger disappointment given how strongly the season started out. But it's still Sunny and it's still funnier than most other TV shows, so I guess that counts for something.