May Sweeps: From Hitler to Martha
by Joal Ryan
Apr 23, 2003, 12:25 PM PT E! Online
Adolf Hitler, Martha Stewart, Madonna. Yes, the latest edition of TV's May "sweeps" has everything but a dog beauty pageant.
Oh, wait... There's one of those, too.
The ratings-mad month, which actually kicks off April 24 (aka Thursday), is the biggest "sweeps" of them all. Series' fates will be decided; characters will be killed; 7th Heaven's Ruthie will, as they say, entertain a visit from Aunt Flo.
The fun wraps May 21, when the networks will resume their regularly scheduled time killers. Until then, here's a look at the highlights: FINAL FAREWELLS
Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (Thursday, WB): The world's oldest teenager (Dick Clark, notwithstanding) faces her wedding day. After, the WB sends the spell-caster on a long honeymoon--a looong honeymoon. Yup, it's a wrap after seven seasons.
Touched By an Angel (Saturday and Sunday, CBS): Carol Burnett introduces this two-part finale in which halo-wearer Monica (Roma Downey) is up for a promotion--after nine seasons on the job.
Dawson's Creek (May 14, WB): Six seasons of brooding ends with two more hours of brooding. The finale flashes forward five years, where we find Dawson (James Van Der Beek) producing a TV show called The Creek, Joey (Katie Holmes) working as a book editor, Pacey (Joshua Jackson) running the all-new Ice House and Jen (Michelle Williams) toiling as a single mom. The gang reunites in Capeside for a "special wedding." And, no doubt, one last group stare into the water.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (May 20, UPN): David Boreanaz and Eliza Dushku, as Angel and Faith, respectively, return to put a nail in the coffin of this cult fave, after seven seasons. AND THE WINNER IS...
Survivor: Amazon (May 11, CBS): The king, or queen, of the jungle is declared in a two-hour live broadcast from New York. A batch of long, hot showers follow. Then it's on to an hourlong cast reunion.
Star Search (May 14, CBS): Arsenio Hall crowns the latest round of singing, dancing and comedy champs. (Still no sign of Ed McMahon...)
he Bachelor (May 18, ABC): Andrew Firestone takes two hours to decide which woman he'll ask to marry him, before, if the show's history is any indicator, dumping her.
Mr. Personality (May 19, Fox): Bachelorette Hayley unmasks her chosen beau. Host Monica Lewinsky smiles.
American Idol (May 21, Fox): The big shebang. Ruben Studdard...Er, we mean, somebody is anointed the all-new Kelly Clarkson in a two-hour spectacular from Los Angeles' Universal Amphitheatre. CLIFFHANGERS
The Practice (May 5, ABC): From the Department of Bad Ideas, Bobby (Dylan McDermott) tells wife Lindsay (Kelli Williams) about his affair. These back-to-back episodes may, or may not, be the show's final ones after seven seasons. From the Department of Bad Signs, the second hour is entitled "Goodbye."
Judging Amy (May 13, CBS): In observance of Firearms Month on CBS, a guy pulls a gun on Amy (Amy Brenneman). Wings' Tim Daly, son of costar Tyne, guest stars.
JAG (CBS, May 20): JAG man Harm (David James Elliott) quits JAG! To go to Paraguay!
Enterprise (May 21, UPN): "A new and deadly force from a mysterious corner of the universe threatens Earth and all of humanity." Oh, is that all?
Without a Trace (May 15, CBS): Firearms Month continues in fine fashion as Samantha (Poppy Montgomery) is shot and critically wounded.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (May 15, CBS): Again with the gun-happy Eyeball. This time, bullets fly in a bank robbery, and the CSI team "loses one of its own." (Uh-oh.)
7th Heaven (May 19, WB): Ruthie (Mackenzie Rosman) gets her period; the Camdens receive "bad news"--presumably not about Ruthie's period.
24 (May 20, Fox): An "unbelievable season finale" is promised--as if we've believed anything after a NUCLEAR BOMB EXPLODED.
Just Shoot Me (May 20, NBC): The veteran sitcom, at seven-seasons old, returned to Tuesday nights this week after three months on the bench. NBC's scheduled to burn through nine new episodes in the next three weeks. Will the ratings be there? Or will NBC be forced to act like CBS and just plug this show? VERY SPECIAL EPISODES
Will & Grace (Thursday, NBC): Madonna pops up as a pal of Karen (Megan Mullally). The timing of the M One's appearance to the debut of her new album, American Life, is purely calculated.
Everwood (May 5, WB): A teenager comes to Doc Brown (Treat Williams) seeking an abortion. Beat the rush--start writing your letters of outraged protest and/or supportive praise now.
The District (May 10, CBS): The Capital gang mourns the death of Ella Farmer, the character portrayed by actress Lynne Thigpen, who passed away March 12.
Today Show/Tonight Show (May 12, NBC): Jay Leno sits in for Katie Couric's a.m. shift; Katie Couric sits in for Jay Leno's p.m. shift.
Boston Public (May 12, Fox): Call it "Getting Davy Jones" for a new generation. A fan letter written by Whitney Houston wannabe Aisha (Tamyra Gray) prompts an appearance by Whitney Houston her very own self.
NYPD Blue (May 13, ABC): Kim Delaney returns as Detective Diane Russell to help Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) with (what else?) a case.
Friends (May 15, NBC): In this 75-minute season finale, the aging buddies head to Barbados, where it's warm and bursitis isn't likely to act up.
Malcolm in the Middle (May 18, Fox): Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) gives birth. Take cover now.
Everybody Loves Raymond (May 19, CBS): In this season closer, Robert (Brad Garrett) walks down the aisle. It takes him 45 minutes.
Girlfriends (May 19, UPN): In this season closer, Toni (Jill Jones) walks down the aisle. It takes her an hour. Isaac (Shaft) Hayes guests.
Gilmore Girls (May 20, WB): Our littlest Gilmore girl is growing up. Rory (Alexis Bledel) graduates from high school in this third-season finale.
America's Next Top Model (May 20, UPN): Tyra Banks hosts the premiere of this new "dramality" series about aspiring catwalkers. REUNIONS
Tim Allen Presents: A User's Guide to Home Improvement (May 4, ABC): Can't remember all the way back to, say, 1999? Tim Allen to the rescue. The erstwhile Tim Taylor walks us down memory lane, recapping his 1991-99 sitcom, with the help of former costars Richard Karn and Debbe Dunning. (Sorry, no Jonathan Taylor Thomas.)
Beverly Hills, 90210: 10-Year High School Reunion (May 11, Fox): Who got fat? Who went bald? Well, um, nobody. Still, the West Beverly kids will regroup, reminisce and, if art were truth, eat a cold chicken dinner. In the biggest twist of the "sweeps," Shannen (The Dark Side) Doherty RSVP'd for the event; Tori (Daughter of the Producer) Spelling did not. ANNIVERSARIES
America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back (Saturday, Fox): Host John Walsh touts the crime-busting show's 750th collar.
ER (May 8, NBC): TV's most successful medical series turns 200 episodes old, with a typically lighted-hearted tale about cult members who poison themselves.
King of the Hill (May 18, Fox): Mike Judge's animated clan marks its 150th (not to mention, its season finale) with an installment about Bobby and...tarot cards.
ABC's 50th Anniversary Celebration (May 19, ABC): Network stars past (John Travolta) and present (Jim Belushi) pay homage to the Alphabet. As part of its birthday bash, the net also will trot out three Dick Clark blooper shows--ABC's 50th Anniversary Blooper
Celebration (April 28), ABC's 50th Anniversary Blooper Celebration, Part 2 (May 5), All ABC Bloopers (May 12)--when one Cop Rock would've sufficed.
Law & Order (May 21, NBC): The show that will not end, which launched the franchise that will not stop expanding, turns 300 episodes old. TV MOVIES
Eloise at the Plaza (Sunday, ABC): Julie Andrews stars in this TV-movie based on author Kay Thompson's beloved series about a little girl who lives in New York's famed Plaza Hotel.
A Painted House (Sunday, CBS): John Grisham's coming-of-age bestseller is transformed into a TV movie with Robert Sean Leonard.
Lucy (May 4, CBS): The life of Lucille Ball is depicted for the second time in TV-movie form. This time, Broadway star Rachel York is the zany redhead; The Shield's Danny Pino, her Cuban bandleader hubby.
Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company (May 12, NBC): The E! True Hollywood Story wasn't enough? Apparently not. From the mind of roommate Joyce DeWitt comes this dramaticized, "unflinching glimpse" at the 1977-84 ABC sitcom.
The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (May 12, ABC): Stephen King's spooky bestseller (a prequel to Rose Red) is transformed into a TV movie with nobody particularly famous.
Hitler: The Rise of Evil (May 18 and 20, CBS): Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty) stars in this controversial mini-series about Der Fuhrer's march to power.
Martha, Inc. (May 19, NBC): Cybill Shepherd stars in this "no-holds-barred" biopic about the domestic maven's march to power. VERY SPECIAL SPECIALS
Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies (Thursday, Fox): The king of the February "sweeps" returns with an "unflinching glimpse" of his superstar life. Oh, sorry--that's the Three's Company movie. The Jacko special, with footage supplied by Jacko himself, promises "unprecedented access." Parental discretion not advised (but it couldn't hurt...).
The First Annual Miss Dog Beauty Pageant (May 8, Fox): Fifty-one bitches, loads of fur, one title up for grabs.
Celebrity Look-Alike Dating (May 16, WB): Best we can tell, "ordinary people" who look like, say, J.Lo and Ben (our example, not the network's) will go out in public and pretend to be the real J.Lo and Ben. AWARD SHOWS
30th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards (May 16, ABC): Wayne Brady hosts; Susan Lucci loses (she's not even nominated).
38th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards (May 21, CBS): Reba McEntire hosts; God is thanked (a lot).