"How I Met Your Mother

Mondays, 8 p.m.

WISH (Channel 8)

Have you met Ted (and Robin, Marshall, Lily and Barney)? They’re the 20-somethings who inhabit the world of How I Met Your Mother, which concludes its second season next Monday, May 14 with a funny, bittersweet episode befitting one of TV’s brightest comedies.

The finale begins at Marshall and Lily’s wedding reception, where Barney overhears Ted and Robin preparing to reveal some news. It ends — not unlike the show’s first season did — with some degree of melancholy and the promise of great stories next year. In between, the actors do what they do so well, playing off each other for laughs and sweet sentimentality.

For those who haven’t seen the show, some background: HIMYM tells its stories backwards, from the point of view of 40-something-year-old Ted Mosby (voiceover by Bob Saget) letting his children know how he met their mother. The episodes, then, are flashbacks of young Ted (Josh Radnor) searching longingly for “The One” while his friends watch with a mixture of amusement, sympathy and, occasionally, mild disgust.

These are five highly likeable characters played by an ensemble with superb chemistry. Neil Patrick Harris is terrific as the sleazy horndog Barney whose idea of helping Ted is to hook him up with one-night stands. (“Have you met Ted?” Barney will ask random women, much to Ted’s embarrassment.) Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan play the adorable couple Marshall and Lily, and Radnor and Cobie Smulders, who plays the would-be love of Ted’s life, Robin, have a charming relationship that we know is ultimately doomed. (We haven’t met the kids’ mother, but we know it’s not Robin.)

Like most sitcoms, How I Met Your Mother took some time developing its comic timing. Early episodes weren’t all that funny and, even now, the weak laugh track makes it appear as if the producers don’t think the jokes are that funny. But this season has gotten progressively stronger and funnier — see the episode where the barista thinks Barney’s name is Swarley; it’s hilarious. Now the show has punch lines worthy of its cast.

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