So forget about Britney. She was fine! She was funny! She sort of sounded like she learned her lines phonetically, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with her! The real question is this: When did How I Met Your Mother turn into Scrubs?
Sarah Chalke — reportedly a last-minute replacement for Alicia Silverstone — was actually very good as the latest woman who may or may not be Your Mother. (She replaces last week's favorite, "Woman.") As a dermatologist single mom who feels a spark with Ted but can't bring herself to make a commitment, Chalke was pretty, charming, and sweet. But something about the episode — maybe the subpar, rushed-after-the-writers'-strike jokes, maybe Ted's really not-great hair, maybe Chalke's presence — made this whole episode feel … well … kind of Braffy. As if at any moment, Bob Saget's voice-over might be replaced by Zach Braff's, intoning great truths about friendship and love.
The episode ended with a deadpan "two-minute date," a neatly choreographed bit of TV business in which Ted took Sarah Chalke out for dinner, a movie, dessert, and a good-night kiss in just two minutes, to the tune of Big Star's "Thirteen." So yeah: a little bit twee, a little bit overdesigned, and a little bit unbelievable. In short, a little bit Braffy.
Chalke and Spears are both gone next week, which might be all for the best. We'd like How I Met Your Mother to take a couple of episodes to regain its footing before continuing with the stunt casting, the multi-episode arcs, and the multiple Your Mother teasers. How about a return to some old-fashioned funniness?