Britney wasn’t the reason to watch ‘Mother’ tonight

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Well, here’s the long and short of it: Britney was superfluous, and a lot of people who don’t normally watch “How I Met Your Mother” (myself included) got to watch what turned out to be an utterly charming lil’ sitcom.

Yes, Britney looks good. But while we all love saying that this week, it’s sadly relative. She didn’t look like a woman who’d recently been in the psych ward, I suppose. She delivered well-written lines as well as can be expected. She smiled and hit her cues and did just fine in a peripheral role on a cookie-cutter sitcom.

The delightful surprise had little to do with Britney, though. Not even the show’s “star,” Neil Patrick Harris, who was equally off-center tonight. It had everything to do with a basic buddies-at-the-bar sitcom that delivered a warmly romantic turn at the end. Ted (series regular Josh Radnor) spends the episode hitting on his dermatologist, Stella (guest-star Sarah Chalke of “Scrubs” fame). In the end, he gets her, with a sweet dating gimmick worth wading through 22 minutes of lame jokes and Britney’s batting eyelashes for. Radnor’s handsome when not dressed like a slacker, and Chalke is appealing as she naturally goes with the flow. With the Big Star song thrown in, it was the kind of TV moment young couples moon at each other over. Even a few old ones.

So if Britney’s involvement led more eyes to that experience, all the better. Glad she’s useful for something these days.

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