Spring TV Preview: The Scoop on 26 Returning Shows

Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris, ...
Image credit: Cliff Lipson

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER
RETURNED MARCH 17 · 8:30 PM · CBS
EPISODES LEFT: 8

WHERE WE LEFT OFF: Ted (Josh Radnor) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) are broken up, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel) bought an apartment that turned out to be a money pit, and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) came down with a serious case of the yips.

UP NEXT: Someone named Britney Spears will be on the show March 24. She'll play a receptionist named Abby, and exec producer Craig Thomas can do nothing but praise the pop tart's professionalism: ''[It was] like a guest actor doing a nice job and being cool about it. This experience had none of the Britney Spears that you see in the press.'' Assuming the stunt casting brings in extra viewers, what other plotlines have producers concocted for the folks who decide to stick around? Thomas reports that Ted is ''back on message'' looking for true love. We'll also get that long-awaited Robin Sparkles B-side breakup ballad, and a special March Madness episode in which the group applies bracketology to discover which ex is stalking Barney. Expect a season-ending cliff-hanger, involving ''actual compelling emotional situations.'' But for Harris, the primary focus is on getting HIMYM off the CBS bubble and into a fourth season. ''I think we have a bit to prove right now,'' Harris says. You and a certain guest star. —Whitney Pastorek

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