"Love doesn't make sense," hopeless romantic Ted told almost-runaway bride Robin last week in the penultimate episode of CBS's long-running romcom How I Met Your Mother. That episode ended, as we knew it would, with Robin and Barney tying the knot, because as Ted concluded in his Speech That Sums The Series Up: "Love is the best thing we do." True words, but even truer were these words: "I won't lie, that was a long weekend."
However one feels about this aggravatingly gimmicky final season, which came to life only on those rare occasions when the spotlight fell on The Mother (Cristin Milioti) and her fateful encounters with Ted's charmed circle, the hour-long series finale (Monday, 8/7c) bears watching, promising resolution and no shortage of sentiment as we say goodbye to a winning ensemble that may have stayed a while too long at the party, but it was legendary while it lasted.
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I wish I could say that CBS's new attempt to fill the Mother void is something more than a void of crass sex jokes, but the pilot episode of Friends With Better Lives (9:01/8:01c) is cookie-cutter comedy made with curdled dough. It's the Friends formula (six friends in varying degrees of relationship angst) matured in demographics if not content, as these thirtysomethings have moved on from coffee-shop indolence to hanging out in the home of married-with-(invisible)-kid couple Andi and Bobby, played with self-deprecating winsomeness by the show's best assets, Majandra Delfino (Roswell) and Entourage's Kevin Connolly. While they fret that the thrill is gone in their love life — setting up a raunchy gag that might make the miscreants on 2 Broke Girls blush — their BFFs hover with wisecracks ranging from the innocuous to, more frequently, obnoxious, making you wonder what these people see in each other.
At least the appealing James Van Der Beek as Will, a newly single bro who hasn't yet gotten over his ex, has the excuse of working with Bobby (they're OB-GYN docs because, well, because), but he spends most of his time trading nasty barbs and sabotaging the dating life of Kate (Zoe Lister-Jones), an unpleasantly bitter spinster in the making — a sharp contrast to fifth wheel Jules (Brooklyn Decker), who has impulsively decided to marry a man she just met (hunky Rick Donald). One thing I'll say for these friends: They could all use better writing.
As usual, my favorite Monday comedy is CBS's Mom (9:30/8:30c), which continues its strong freshman season — thankfully renewed for a second — with the very pregnant Violet (Sadie Calvano) going to her prom in a maternity gown, prompting this crack from grandma Bonnie (Allison Janney) to future granny Christy (Anna Faris), looking on the bright side: "You're the only mom who's not nervous about her daughter getting knocked up on prom night." But how about going into labor pains on the dance floor? This sitcom is really something because it's about something real — and lately that has included a smart handling of yet another issue: adoption.
REALITY CHECK: Much in the tabloid news lately, Coldplay's Chris Martin embarks on a round of conscious musical coupling with the aspiring singers of NBC's hit The Voice. As a new second phase of "Battle Rounds" begins (8/7c), Martin mentors contestants from all four teams as they prepare to face off in individual duels, with the losing singer from each team subject to be stolen by rival coaches. ... ABC's Dancing With the Stars counters with its own ringer: Good Morning America's Robin Roberts as guest judge, weighing in as the 10 remaining celebs dance to a song reflecting "The Most Memorable Year of Their Life." ... MTV gets cooking with House of Food (10/9c), a combination of The Real World and Top Chef as aspiring chefs live together while taking on culinary-school challenges.
THE MONDAY GUIDE: TCM honors a film legend in Eva Marie Saint: Live From the TCM Classic Film Festival (8/7c), an interview special taped last year and conducted by TCM host Robert Osborne, followed by a screening of 1954's On the Waterfront (9/8c) for which Saint won an Oscar in her film debut. ... With the Final Four teams in the NCAA Tournament headed to Dallas, TBS's Conan gets there first for a week of shows (11/10c) from the Majestic Theater, where his first guests include Adam Sandler and Tig Notaro. ... CBS's Intelligence wraps its midseason tryout (10/9c) with Gabriel and Riley on the trail of foreign sleeper agents embedded in the U.S. government. The show was a little bit too much of a sleeper itself, unable to make much traction this winter against NBC's The Blacklist, which this week (10/9c) introduces "The Undertaker" (Damian Young), an insurance-claim adjuster who manipulates clients into becoming contract killers.