Watch this: TV week of Sept. 23

Monday

SEASON PREMIERE How I Met Your Mother, 8 p.m., CBS

Well, we've met the mother. Now what? Here's what we know: The show's final season starts tonight, and the entire thing will take place over the weekend of Barney and Robin's wedding. Here's what we hope for: Plenty of flashbacks and flashforwards that let us see Ted meeting and falling in love with the Mother (revealed last season to be Cristin Milioti). We would also accept an entire season of slap bet shenanigans.

SEASON PREMIERE The Voice, 9 p.m., NBC

We wanted to make a comment here about last season's winner, but we already forgot who that is. That's okay! We don't watch the The Voice because of its ability to find the best musicians, but for the dynamic between its judges. This time, Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green return after taking a break last season to join Levine and three-time winner Blake Shelton. Hey Blake, maybe it's time to give someone else a chance?

SERIES PREMIERE Hostages, 10 p.m., CBS

We love Dylan McDermott. And we love Toni Colette. We don't love the premise of this new show — a doctor (Colette) treating the president is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent (McDermott) — because we can't see how it lends itself to anything longer than a miniseries. But, hey, maybe we're wrong.

Tuesday

SERIES PREMIERE Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 8 p.m., ABC

Overly punctuated title aside, we're totally geeking out over Joss Whedon's return to television. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer mastermind wrote and directed this pilot episode, so the expectations are as supersized as the superheroes.

Wednesday

SEASON PREMIERE Nashville, 10 p.m., ABC

Is Nashville making a good move by sending one of the most interesting parts of its show, Connie Britton's country queen Rayna James, to a hospital bed? She's there in tonight's premiere after a car crash with former lover/bandmate Deacon (Charles Esten) in last season's finale. Get her back to the stage soon, Nashville, because we don't want to see an entire season of Teddy's baby daddy drama or more Gunnar/Scarlett relationship woes.

Thursday

SEASON PREMIERE Parenthood, 10 p.m., NBC

This show is our version of settling in to a warm bubble bath. The drama centered on the Braverman clan is one of the most sincere shows on right now; it's never afraid to indulge life's emotional, sappy moments that other TV shows often stay away from. We love that, even if it makes us blubber like a baby. After nine long months since Parenthood wrapped its fourth season (unquestionably the show's best so far), we're thrilled to have it back for a full, 22-episode season order — unlike the 15-episode pickup it got for season 4. Bonus: Ray Romano is back as Sarah's (Lauren Graham) love interest.

SERIES PREMIERE The Crazy Ones, 9 p.m., CBS

Sure, this new David E. Kelley comedy set in an advertising agency marks Robin Williams big return to TV. But we're actually more excited about one of its other cast members: James Wolk. Wolk, last seen as Mad Men's man of mystery Bob Benson, jumps ad agencies to work as a copywriter with Williams and his daughter, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Let's see if the dashing Don Draper look-alike can pull off comedic timing.

SERIES PREMIERE The Michael J. Fox Show, 9 p.m., NBC

Welcome back to TV, Michael J. Fox! We missed you. And thank goodness Betsy Brandt, who plays his wife, finally gets some comic relief in her life after a whole season of being tormented by Walter White on Breaking Bad.

SEASON PREMIERE Grey's Anatomy, 9 p.m., ABC

You've got to hand it to Grey's Anatomy. Despite being on for nine seasons, it's still totally watchable, if not better now than it has been in a while. We're definitely tuning in tonight to see if Richard, who was electrocuted during a storm in last season's cliffhanger, is a goner. (Hey, we didn't say this show got any less ridiculous.) Plus, we want to spend as much time as we can with Christina Yang before Sandra Oh leaves at the end of the season.

Sunday

SERIES FINALE Breaking Bad, 9 p.m., AMC

We're still in denial, but Breaking Bad officially comes to an end tonight. Since guessing what's going to happen on this show is as foolish as thinking Walt Jr. will skip breakfast, let's instead focus on the formula that will ensure Breaking Bad is remembered as one of the best shows of all time.

Never dull: You don't have to dig too deep to enjoy this show — and that's a good thing. Unlike shows like The Wire or Mad Men, Breaking Bad doesn't require repeat viewings or a breakdown of dialogue to really enjoy what happens on the screen. Most of its pleasures are purely visceral.

Characters matter: In shows as action-heavy and pulse-quickening as Breaking Bad, deep character development is not always a given. But this show has always really been about the internal curdling of Walter White's soul, and as a TV character, it doesn't get much better than Walt. Or Jesse Pinkman. Or Gustavo Fring. The list of indelible characters on this show is endless. (Plus, Bryan Cranston's Walter White is one of the greatest TV creations of the past decade this side of Tony Soprano, and he's not alone in a cast of some of the very best actors on TV.)

It's expertly plotted: Creator Vince Gilligan and his writing staff are masters at fitting puzzle pieces of plot into a cohesive narrative, and it's never been so apparent than in this final run. The most impactful scenes (Hank finding out the truth about Walt, Skyler and Marie's big blowout) rely on a deep understanding of the show and what's come before.

It's going out on top: From the very beginning, Breaking Bad set out to tell a specific story. Unlike lots of other shows, Bad's central arc, of how Walter White went from milquetoast father to evil kingpin, has a clear beginning, middle and end. Knowing that, Gilligan and Co. have told their narrative with all the precision of master scientists. They're ending the show now because Walt's arc is complete; there's no more story left to tell. When's the last time a show did that?

Watch this: TV week of Sept. 23 09/18/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 4:34pm]

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