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Favorite TV Shows Return With Fanfare

Continuing his passionate quest to find the woman who will one day be his wife, Ted (Josh Radnor) pursues his beautiful dermatologist, Stella (guest star Sarah Chalke "Scrubs"). While Stella turns down his repeated efforts for a date, her office receptionist, Abby (guest star Britney Spears), becomes smitten with Ted, on "How I Met Your Mother" March 24 on CBS
CBS/Monty Brinton
Get ready to be glued to your TV set again.

After a long wait caused by the Hollywood writers strike, comedies and dramas are back with new episodes, new plot twists and some famous faces.

Networks are pulling out all the stops to entice viewers who have found other things to do in the interim.

"It's going to take a lot to get viewers back to the air, because of video games because of the Internet and there's been a steady ratings erosion in broadcast," James Hibberd of the Hollywood Reporter told co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez on The Early Show Monday.


Photos: Favorite TV Shows Of All Time
In April expect new episodes from all three "CSI" series. Fans of medical dramas can catch up on "E.R.," "House" and "Grey's Anatomy" and NBC will re-launch its Thursday night comedies.

Usually fans have to wait until May sweeps for spellbinding cliffhangers and special guest stars. Not this time.

"How I Met Your Mother" is generating lots of buzz with tonight's show featuring Britney Spears.

"The casting of Britney Spears has been a brilliant move for the show, it's gotten them a ton of press (and) a ton of online play," Hibberd said.

Bringing viewers back also means bringing them up to speed on stories they last saw 3 months ago.

No such luck for shows with continuing storylines that barely started before the strike.

"Pushing Daisies" and "Heroes" have been pushed back until Fall. And the Fox drama "24" is off until January 2009.

For other continuing dramas, the hiatus was a chance to regroup and rethink storylines.

"The strike may have helped 'Grey's Anatomy' because they can retool a little bit," said Entertainment Weekly's Dalton Ross. "They've been told we want to see McDreamy and Meredith together. That wasn't the plan. It's the plan now."

Fans of "CSI" will also learn about why Sarah Sidle (Jorja Fox) departed.

People are intrigued," said Ross. "We're going to get answers in the first episode back as to why she left the show."