POSTED BY STUART LEVINE

First off, I’m a huge champion of "How I Met Your Mother." The cast is terrific, the writing consistently funny and the direction by Pam Fryman is stellar. So speaking from a fan’s perspective, last night’s episode left me disappointed.Britney

The first time Britney Spears appeared on the show a few weeks back, it was a great piece of stunt casting as showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas integrated her character just enough so that we knew it was Britney but it didn’t interfere with how smoothly the rest of the actors work together and it didn’t take anything away from the storyline.

Not so much last night. It wasn’t that Britney’s character — a young woman who has a crush on Ted but sleeps with Barney to get even — was involved too much in the episode but, rather, Britney just plain can’t act. Period. She looked stilted and foolish in scenes with TV pros such as Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor.

Ratings for "Mother" shot up for Britney’s first appearance, and for a show this good that has never received the high ratings it should — series just got the OK from CBS for another season, yeah! — any way to push the Nielsen meter is smart, but last night’s episode felt to me as if it had crossed a line in pimping to get viewers.

From Britney’s perspective, coming on as a guest star is a smart move. By working on "Mother’s" tight sitcom schedule, it helps keep her life straight — or straighter than usual — and makes her seem a bit more like a "normal" person and not just tabloid fodder.

But her exposure and rehab felt like it came at the expense of "Mother." I’m hoping it doesn’t happen again next season.

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