Britney Spears can’t make it to a custody hearing. She can barely make it out of her driveway. Hell, it’s doubtful she can even dress herself. But somehow she stopped self-medicating long enough to shoot a cameo on next week’s episode of How I Met Your Mother (Mondays, 8:30 pm on CBS and CH).
Beyond her train wreck of a personal life, Spears is no stranger to situation comedies. She appeared on Will & Grace a couple years back as a Christian ultra-conservative.
This time out, Miss Oops I Did It Again is cast in the equally unlikely role of a geeky receptionist for a tattoo-removal doctor. Seems the series’ lovelorn main character, Ted, wants to get his butterfly tramp stamp rubbed out. Ironically, Ted got the offending ink while on a drinking binge with a badass rocker chick played by sweetness-and-light pop star Mandy Moore.
Of course, Spears could suck. Think Alanis Morissette playing spin the bottle on Sex And The City. Or, as HIMYM’s Barney would say, she could be legen-wait for it-dary. Brad Pitt on Friends, or – sticking with the theme of wack-job singers on sitcoms – Liza Minnelli on Arrested Development.
It makes sense for the series to cast Spears. While How I Met Your Mother is a critically acclaimed cult hit, it’s not a Friends-sized blockbuster, and it has yet to be picked up for next season. An appearance by the pop burnout brings plenty of media attention – paparazzi-powered whirly-birds circled the set for hours the day she filmed – along with her baggage.
But what’s in it for the former Mrs. Federline? She approached the show, not vice versa. Is this a bit of career rehab? Public relations mending? A one-off goof? Whatever it is, it’ll be worth tuning in just to stay ahead of the YouTube curve.
A show that’s painfully unfunny and utterly charmless is The Return Of Jezebel James (Fridays, 8:30 pm on Fox). Even the presence of the most obnoxious laugh track since the Flintstones can’t force a smirk.
Created by Amy Sherman, who made the pop-smart and very charming Gilmore Girls, this post-Juno too-clever-for-its-own-good sitcom stars the very shrill Parker Posey as an even shriller 30-something career woman whose eggo can’t get preggo, so she tries to con her addict sister (Six Feet Under’s Lauren Ambrose) into being her home skillet.
Once estranged – and still very strange – the two bond over Posey’s new children’s book, Jezebel James, named after her sister’s childhood imaginary friend. In the end, these characters put the “pathetic” in unsympathetic.
Equally unsympathetic, although a little less pathetic, is the legal eagle at the heart of Canterbury’s Law (Mondays, 8 pm on Fox and Global).
Former ER sweetheart Julianna Margulies does her best House impression as an obnoxious, cantankerous and completely brilliant criminal defence attorney who thinks nothing of bending the rules to win a case while her underlings – from Ben Shenkman’s legal associate to Aidan Quinn’s estranged husband – are left to pick up the pieces.
Hard-nosed, unforgiving and with a messed up personal life that sees her hopping in and out of beds and bars, Elizabeth Canterbury is a total land shark.
No surprise the show is Rescue Me executive producer Denis Leary’s and that the role was conceived as a man but was changed after the similarly themed legal drama Shark starring James Woods premiered.
Just as Shark and House were first and foremost showcases for their stars, Canterbury’s Law rests squarely on Margulies’s shoulders. And in the first couple of episodes, at least, she acquits herself rather well as the abrasive attorney.
But just as House’s brilliant jerk shtick has begun to grow tiresome, Margulies’s Canterbury could face a similar fate. It doesn’t help that the show around her is a fairly generic courtroom drama that fits somewhere between Law & Order and Boston Legal.