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55 Yard Line

Video: How I Met Your Mother’s take on the 1996 Grey Cup halftime show in Hamilton

Andrew Bucholtz
55 Yard Line

The CFL's appeared in a surprising number of U.S. TV shows, from 30 Rock to The Simpsons to Modern Family and The League, but Monday saw one of the most detailed CFL references yet on American television. Unsurprisingly, it came from CBS' How I Met Your Mother, which has long played up character Robin Scherbatsky (played by Cobie Smulders, who's from Vancouver)'s past as Canadian pop star "Robin Sparkles". The execution was brilliant, though, featuring a MuchMusic "Underneath The Tunes" segment where every Canadian celebrity from Alex Trebek to Paul Shaffer to Geddy Lee and Jason Priestly comments on how things went south for Sparkles when she turned into "Robin Daggers" at the 1996 Grey Cup halftime show. Here's the segment:

Some particularly stellar highlights from that:

—"In 1996, we booked the halftime show at the Grey Cup. Huge gig! We're talking Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, just outside of Guelph. It doesn't get any bigger than that!" - Fictitious record producer Chuck "Chuck" Gerussi

—"It was tragic. To this day, you ask any Canadian where they were when Robin Sparkles lost it, not only can they tell you which Tim Hortons they were in, but which donut they were eating." - Steven Page, Barenaked Ladies

— The "Consider Questioning Authority, Please" backdrop at the Grey Cup.

The CFL history here is pretty good, actually. Yes, the 1996 Grey Cup was played in Hamilton, at Ivor Wynne Stadium. It saw the Toronto Argonauts (led by Don Matthews and Doug Flutie) knock off the Edmonton Eskimos 43-37. Of course, that was the famous "Snow Bowl," and there's a discernible lack of snow in the concert shots, but hey, we'll take what we can get. "Hamilton, just outside of Guelph" is also funny considering that Ivor Wynne has now been knocked down and the Tiger-Cats are relocating to Guelph for this year (and perhaps longer, if there are construction delays on the new Ivor Wynne). Moreover, the 1996 halftime show was actually a cappella group The Nylons, so Robin Daggers and her Mountie dancers probably would have been an improvement. Heck, I'd take them over last year's headliner, Justin Bieber.

Of course, there are plenty of Canadian jokes to appreciate here beyond just the Grey Cup reference. The whole plot is an elaborate play on Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" (which makes Dave Coulier's appearance particularly funny), but the comments from Alex Trebek and Geddy Lee on grunge being invented in Canada in 1996 are also hilarious (especially considering that Jason Segel's character, Marshall, is bummed out by Lee's comment; Segel and Lee have a pretty funny history). Former L.A. Kings' star Luc Robitaille listening to "Sandcastles In The Sand" as pump-up music is also great, as is Jason Priestley's invention of "The Priestley" (a Timbit inside a donut, an idea so good that Tim Hortons actually did it). Still, it's particularly awesome to see the Grey Cup get so much attention on a big U.S. show. Here's the episode-closing music video for "P.S. I Love You", featuring more shots from the Grey Cup concert (including Robin Daggers crowdsurfing with a bunch of Mounties!):

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