May Sweeps Big on Farewells
In TV’s May sweeps, we’ll lose our friends, our shrink and our favorite Boston law firm. But we’ll gain a brand-new homemaking diva.
Don’t know if that’s an even swap, but it’s the best we can do in a somewhat underwhelming month of extra-special prime-time programming.
Owing to a spate of super-sized series and season finales by the likes of Friends, Frasier, The Practice, American Idol and Survivor: All Stars, the number of gratuitous dog pageants and Three’s Company docudramas has dwindled considerably from sweeps periods past.
All is not lost, though. Lest you think the networks have gone all classy on us, may we direct your attention to Cops: Resisting Arrest.
Here’s a look at that, and other highlights of the May sweeps, running Thursday night through May 26:
* Friends (May 6, NBC): A mere 10 years after they started hanging out, Monica, Rachel, Phoebe, Ross, Chandler and Joey decide to get on with what’s left of their adult lives. “We leave these characters in a really good place,” series cocreator David Crane told reporters this month. Crane wouldn’t spoil his own ending, but allowed that “a really good place” didn’t necessarily mean anyone (read: Rachel) was going to get married. Milking its $2 million commercial cash cow for all its worth, NBC will precede the show’s hourlong finale with an hourlong clip fest.
* Frasier (May 13, NBC): A mere 20 years after he began portraying fussy Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers, Kelsey Grammer is ready to move on with what’s left of his career. He and the Frasier cast and crew take 31 Emmy Awards with them. The hourlong sendoff, featuring guest appearances by Jason Biggs, Laura Linney, Jennifer Beals and more, will be–stop, if you’ve heard this before–preceded by an hourlong clip fest.
* The Practice (May 16, ABC): After eight seasons, David E. Kelley shutters the law firm of Young, Frutt & Berluti en route to spinning off shark Alan Shore (James Spader) to his own show next fall. Original series star Dylan McDermott returns for the finale. (He also appears in the episode to air Sunday.)
* Angel (May 19, WB): Mourn the undead. After five seasons, David Boreanaz’s vampire with a heart of gold faces his final battle–but not before one of his “closest friends” meets a “violent death.”
* Law & Order (May 19, NBC): Don’t worry. This series goes on (and on and on…), but Jerry Orbach, a fixture since Year Three, works his last case before being farmed out to producer Dick Wolf’s latest franchise operation, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, premiering next fall.
* The O.C. (Wednesday, Fox): “Sparks fly, emotions run high and lives are forever changed.” Who knew Orange County was so close to Dallas?
* That ’70s Show (May 19, Fox): Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon) walk down the aisle…or do they?
* Everybody Loves Raymond (May 24, CBS): Technically, this is the season closer, and a fairly standard one at that: Ray (Ray Romano) and Robert (Brad Garrett) get into a fight. But for CBS, this show presents the biggest cliffhanger of all: Will Romano reup for a ninth season? (Will Welcome to Mooseport end up in Comedy Central rerun hell?)
* 24 (May 25, Fox): “Jack [Keifer Sutherland] is faced with a horrible dilemma.” You know, unlike all those other wussy problems he deals with.
* Survivor: All-Stars (May 9, CBS): Jeff Probst gathers the last contestants standing for a live, two-hour finale at New York’s Madison Square Garden. An hourlong reunion show and we-hate-Jerri venting session follows.
* The WB’s Superstar USA (premiering May 17, WB): What has William Hung wrought? Music greats Vitamin C and Tone-Loc make fun of people who can’t sing. Barring FCC intervention, this short-run series is to be broadcast on Monday and Tuesday nights for three consecutive weeks.
* The Bachelor (May 19, ABC): Jesse Palmer presents the final rose to the love of his life prior to returning to his chick-magnet job with the New York Giants.
* The Swan (May 24, Fox): A beauty-pageant winner is crowned. Plastic surgeons rejoice.
* American Idol (May 26, Fox): One night after LaToya and George (or Fantasia and Jasmine, or…) engage in a grueling, two-hour sing-off at Hollywood’s Kodak Theater, the two finalists (whoever they may be) return to the stage to endure an excruciating, two-hour reveal of the final vote tallies.
VERY SPECIAL EPISODES
* Will & Grace (Thursday, NBC): In a rare bit of stunt casting for this little, unassuming comedy, a really big star (Jennifer Lopez) just so happens to bump into Karen (Megan Mullally).
* Grounded for Life (Friday, WB): O.C. star Adam Brody slums.
* Cops: Resisting Arrest (Saturday, Fox): Rocket scientists fail to heed the request of authorities.
* King of the Hill (Sunday, Fox): The late John Ritter did voice work on this episode, which finds Bobby Hill testing his mental acuity at a quiz competition.
* Yes, Dear (Monday, CBS): A piano falls on Jimmy (Mike O’Malley). Fabio guest stars. We did not, and could not, make this up.
* Less Than Perfect (Tuesday, ABC): Tori Spelling earns mad money for her upcoming honeymoon by guesting here as a ditzy personal assistant.
* Eve (May 10, UPN): “Shelly [Eve] refuses to design a suit for a pimp [Morris Day].”
* Las Vegas (May 10, NBC): “Delinda (Molly Sims) attempts to make her kitchen demonstration a success.”
* Joan of Arcadia (May 14, CBS): Joan (Amber Tamblyn) thinks God is telling her to have sex. Way to go, God!
* Hope & Faith (May 14, ABC): In the hourlong season finale, Kelly Ripa’s former soap-opera colleagues descend on her demi-hit sitcom. Numerous back-from-the-dead-evil-twin jokes are told.
* Fear Factor (May 17, NBC): Children are locked in boxes filled with Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Parents are told to remove said cockroaches with their mouths in order to free their beloved offspring. Good times!
* George Lopez (Friday, ABC): Apparently George Lopez never got to go to Disneyland as a kid. Hence, the inspiration for this episode wherein his character finally visits the Magic Kingdom as an adult and gets all depressed because he never went as a kid. Amidst all this Sturm and Drang, the Mouse House-owned network will award a family vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth, so that you, the viewer at home, can get all depressed just like George Lopez.
VERY SPECIAL SPECIALS
* The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited (May 11, CBS): Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore and other surviving cast members from the 1960s classic sitcom step back into their former roles. Ray Romano is on hand to host and witness what may turn out to be a very good idea, or a very sad one.
* The Carol Burnett Show: Let’s Bump Up the Lights (May 12, CBS): Never-before-seen clips of Tim Conway cracking up Harvey Korman!
* The Mentalist (May 12, NBC): Mind-reader Gerry McCambridge “demonstrates sensory deprivation on American Dreams star Brittany Snow.” The revelations, we are promised, are both “intriguing and dumbfounding.”
* America’s Next Top Model: The Runway Ahead (May 12, UPN): Tyra Banks catches up with second-season champ Yoanna House and her 11 defeated comrades.
* Super Millionaire (May 16-18, May 20, May 23, ABC): Regis Philbin is back, and he’s got $10 million burning a hole in his pocket. Have your final answers ready.
* Motown 45 (May 17, ABC): How the mighty record labels have fallen. Twenty-one years ago, on Motown 25, Michael Jackson moonwalked his way to solo superstardom. This time around, Jermaine Jackson duets with Nick Lachey.
* 60 Minutes: Salute to Don Hewitt (May 18, CBS): On the eve of his retirement, the newsmag’s ultra-longtime executive producer recalls the time he hired Mike Wallace to cover the Peloponnesian War.
* The Great Domestic Showdown (May 25-26, ABC): With Martha Stewart otherwise engaged, Loveline’s Adam Carolla hosts this search for the next lifestyle guru. The winner gets a book deal, and a shot at his or her own TV show. Federal charges not included.
* 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards (May 21, NBC): Soap stars present. Hairdressers are thanked.
* 39th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards (May 26, NBC): Reba McEntire hosts. God is thanked.
* The Book of Ruth (Sunday, CBS): Christine Lahti and The Nanny’s Nicholle Tom work on mother-daughter issues in this based-on-an-Oprah-Book-Club-selection weepy.
* A Wrinkle in Time (May 10, ABC): Madeleine L’Engle’s children’s classic gets the Wonderful World of Disney treatment. Alfre Woodard stars.
* 10.5 (May 2-3, NBC): In this four-hour miniseries, a really big earthquake hits the West Coast, threatening Kim Delaney, John Schneider and Beau Bridges, though fortunately none of the good stars.
* Nightline (Friday, ABC): Ted Koppel reads off the names of the U.S. soldiers killed in action in Iraq since March 2003. All 500-plus of them.
* 20/20 (May 7, ABC): Hobbit Sean Astin talks to Barbara Walters about bi-polar mom Patty Duke.
* 20/20 (May 21, ABC): Hilary Duff addresses the issues of the day.
May Sweeps Big on Farewells