The big How I Met Your Mother story this week is, of course, Britney Spears’ guest role. Promos for the episode have been running non-stop on CBS the past week, especially during the NCAA Tournament, so we can assume that there will be a significant amount of first-time How I Met Your Mother viewers tuning in tonight. This stunt casting is, in all likelihood, a last ditch effort by CBS and the How I Met Your Mother team to receive a renewal for next season; the show is perpetually “on the bubble.” So, there are two big questions raised by tonight’s episode: How was Britney? And, was this episode good enough to bring keep new viewers and boost ratings for the rest of the season. Short answers: Not terrible and yes.
Let’s get Britney out of the way first. The plot of tonight’s episode was long in the offing – Ted finally goes in to get his butterfly tattoo removed from his back. Britney plays the seemingly innocent receptionist at the doctor’s office who ends up crushing hard on Ted. Spears is clearly not an actor, but she did a better job than I (or anyone) would have expected. The writers smartly gave her easy jokes and wrote down to her abilities. It worked, and she even managed to pull a few legitimate laughs from her jokes, especially impressive given that she had to play off the great Sarah Chalke.
Sarah Chalke (from Scrubs) played Ted’s tattoo removal doctor Stella. Since this is How I Met You Mother, the writers created a cool little structure for the episode – it took ten different sessions for Ted to get his tattoo removed. Ted, as any man would do, fell for Stella during the first session. Ted believes he asked her out that first session, but it’s a misunderstanding and Ted ends up tagging along on girl’s night out. At the next session Stella explains that doctors aren’t allowed to date patients, but even after the ten sessions, her answer will still be no. Over the next ten sessions, Ted does his best to woo Stella, trying all sorts of ridiculous ploys to win her over.
This episode was vintage How I Met Your Mother. I wasn’t feeling last week’s episode, but tonight made me laugh out loud on numerous occasions. Chalke, unlike her Scrubs character, played it pretty straight throughout the episode. Robin, Lily, Marshall and Barney spent the entire episode commentating on the situation from the bar. The best two moments of the episode both involved Barney: 1) Barney’s magic fireball and subsequent booth-banishing and 2) Barney concocting an elaborate scheme that ends with Ted growing a mustache and Barney winning ten dollars.
I won’t spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t seen the episode yet. I’ll just say that, while it was perhaps overly cheesy, it’s something that I believe Ted’s character would do. Most importantly, the writers leave the possibility open that Stella is the mother of Ted’s children, which would be fine by me.
In short, great episode and Britney Spears actually brought a little something to the table. She definitely didn’t distract too much or kill the episode, as I had feared.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)