My favorite TV show returns tonight with the first new episode since just after the writer’s strike began. "How I Met Your Mother" is probably the least watched show among those with high critical acclaim, and it’s a shame. The writing is very creative and often laugh-out-loud funny, and the premise is genius — a dad telling his kids the story of how he met their mother, shown in flashbacks.

The reason this premise is genius is because so many romantic comedy TV series start out with some sort of relationship that the audience is rooting for, and if that relationship doesn’t work out (or if it does, predictably), people lose interest and the show gets trashed. In this case, we know from the beginning that the character of Ted Moseby’s (Josh Radnor) initial love interest, Robin (Cobie Smulders), is not their mother, so the audience can just sit back and enjoy the plentiful laughs.

Just for the record, even though it’s a romantic comedy, it’s much more comedic than romantic, and my husband often laughs louder than I do while we’re watching the show. The cast has great chemistry, but many of the best lines come from Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris — whom many of us fondly remember as Doogie Howser, MD, and who was nominated for an Emmy for his role as a supporting actor on this show.

My only beef with the show recently is that it invited Britney Spears to do a cameo on next week’s episode, but so far the writers haven’t let me down, so I’m going to watch it before making a judgment.

If you read this post after the show airs, just download the full episode and watch it on your computer. I would suggest downloading the previous online episodes, too, and renting the first two seasons. The following clip won’t do the show justice, but it’s segments of my favorite episode from the first season, exemplifying all of the reasons that clubs are stupid.

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