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May Sweeps: What's Ahead for Your Favorite Shows?

Ah, May. The flowers are in bloom, temperatures are heating up, and there's even a three-day weekend on the horizon. But more importantly it's also the arrival of Sweeps season on the television calendar, that ever important time when networks pull out all the stops (in November, Feburary, and May) to lure in viewers and set their ad rates.

Business aside, it's also the time where programs launch their most serpentine twists yet, dramas kill off a character or two, and every show rachets up the stakes... building to season finales that the nets hope you'll be talking about all summer long.

This May Sweeps period we should also take a moment to reflect on the shows that won't be with us next season, including Alias, Arrested Development (sniff sniff), Malcolm in the Middle, The West Wing, That 70s Show, Will & Grace, Charmed, What I Like About You, and Yes, Dear. (The jury is still out on the final fate of 7th Heaven.)

But what about the shows that--for the most part--will be back next season? Well, gentle reader, sit back, relax, and enjoy what lies ahead for some of your favorite shows. But beware: there are a few spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution.

Alias

Look for the return of several familiar faces as Sydney's former allies and enemies--including whipping boy turned fan-favorite Will (Bradley Cooper)--come out of the woodwork in the build up to the two-hour series finale on May 22nd (9-11 pm). Sloane learns that Prophet Five's cure for ailing daughter Nadia (Mia Mastro) may kill her. Vaughn (Michael Vartan) meets his newborn daughter for the first time. And when a microchip discovered inside Renee is linked to Vaughn, Sydney must battle Anna Espinosa (Gina Torres) and team up with the nefarious Sark (David Anders) to decipher Rambaldi's final clue. Hmmm, think they'll finally tie up all of those dangling Rambaldi plotlines? Could it be that Rambaldi was leading Sydney to a certain deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific? Just don't take Oceanic Flight 815 to get there, Syd.

Prison Break

Look for Michael and his crew to make their big break on May 8th, though not all of them will make it out of prison. And then catch the season finale one week later (on May 15th), when the fugitives attempt to avoid capure and Veronica discovers that Terrance Steadman is alive. Oh that Veronica, she's almost as naughty as that other Veronica... you know that cute teenage sleuth on UPN. Speaking of which...

Veronica Mars

Veronica gets to the bottom of the bus crash mystery on the season finale on May 9th, but not before testifying at the trial of Aaron Echolls, her ex-boyfriend's Oscar-winning father who killed Veronica's best friend Lily Kane. Only now, Aaron is trying to pin the murder on Veronica's other ex-boyfriend Duncan, who happens to be Lily's blackout-prone brother. Meanwhile, Neptune mayor Woody Goodman takes his feud with Keith to a new level. Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

24

The countdown to the explosive two-hour season finale (May 22nd) continues. As the minutes tick down to the end of a rather, well, stressful day in the life of Jack Bauer, which included the assassination of a president and germ warfare, Jack vows to avenge the deaths of Edgar, Tony, Michelle, and Lynn and, you know, tries to prevent yet another global catastrophe. I wonder what Jack does after each of these grueling 24-hour missions are over. Vacation days, anyone?

Lost

All the mysteries are solved! Okay, not really. But the prodigal castaway--that would be Michael--returns with information about the whereabouts of the Others and launches a daring plan to free his captured son Walt. But is he all that he seems to be? Meanwhile, the Other-Formerly-Known-as-Henry-Gale makes his move and attacks Ana-Lucia, Hurley cozies up to Libby, and Locke inches his way ever closer to solving the mystery of the hatch and its newfound map. All of this leads up to a rather ominous-sounding two-hour hour finale on May 24th (9-11 pm) called "Live Together, Die Alone." Call me crazy but something tells me that not everyone will be back next season...

Gilmore Girls

Only two episodes remain until the departure of Gilmore Girls showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino, her husband and fellow writer/producer, who are leaving the show after six seasons. Will Lorelai and Luke be able to heal the rift that's formed between them since the arrival of Luke's daughter April onto the scene? And better yet, will the Gilmores ever find out that their daughter isn't getting married in June? Meanwhile, Rory spends one last night with boyfriend Logan before he leaves for his new job in London... but that doesn't mean that Logan's out of the picture for good. Oh, and that pregnancy that the WB promo department is working double time to make it seem like it's one of the Gilmore girls? It's Luke's sis, Liz. D'oh!

Desperate Housewives

A number of soapy plot turns await the viewers of Desperate Housewives this May (though I won't be watching). Karl and Susan continue their illicit affair until Karl breaks up with Edie, who hires a private detective to get to the bottom of Karl's behavior; Susan's troubles begin to mount; Bree's battle with her son Andrew comes to a head. Meanwhile, on the two-hour season finale (May 21st; 9-11 pm), witness the arrival of the four women on Wisteria Lane in a series of flashbacks and see how future kidnapper/murderer/suicide victim Mary Alice (Brenda Strong) brought all of them together. Aw, sweet. A Very Special Episode of the soap-opera-turned-awards-show-comedy-category favorite.

The Amazing Race

The final three remaining teams race to the finish line on the two-hour season finale on May 17th (8-10 pm). Who will win? I don't know, but it's looking like a serious (as well as rather depressing) possibility that the winners will be the frat boys, Eric and Jeremy, unless the Hippies can pull a victory out from under them.

My Name is Earl and The Office

NBC gives you more bang for your buck on May 11th with the season finales of My Name is Earl and The Office, each of which have super-sized 40 minute episodes. On the season finale of My Name is Earl, when Darnell suggests that Earl tackle the first item on his list--"stole $10 from a guy at the Camden Market"--Earl learns that he owes the guy all of his lottery money and winds up penniless.

Forty minutes later on the super-sized season finale of The Office, Michael throws a charity Casino Night in the warehouse, in this episode written by Steve Carell.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: The King of Queens/How I Met Your Mother (CBS); Deal or No Deal (NBC); 7th Heaven (WB); Wife Swap (ABC); Prison Break (FOX); Major League Baseball (UPN)

9 pm: Two and a Half Men/The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS); The Apprentice (NBC); Everwood (WB); Supernanny (ABC); 24 (FOX)

10 pm: CSI: Miami (CBS); Medium (NBC); What About Brian (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching

7 pm: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. (That's 10 pm for you East Coasters... or Left Coasters who'd rather catch the later showing.)

In tonight's episode ("Puerto Rico"), writer, chef, and sarcastic gourmand Anthony Bourdain travels to Puerto Rico where he eats roasted pig, among other things. Honestly, if you're a vegetarian, stop watching this show right now.

8 pm: 5 Takes: Pacific Rim.

On tonight's episode of new reality favorite 5 Takes: Pacific Rim ("Vote: Melbourne or Byron Bay"), we find out the results of the viewer vote to see if the kids end up traveling to Melbourne or Byron Bay. I'll kill any suspence and spoil it for you right now: the gang ends up in Melbourne, where they play some serious Australian Footie. My money's on the home team.

9:30 pm: Old Christine.

I still can't believe that I actually enjoy watching this traditional sitcom as much as I am. On tonight's episode ("Ritchie Has Two Mommies"), Christine tries to be mature when ex-hubbie Richard tells their son to refer to "New'' Christine as Mommy. Ouch.

Comments

ticknart said…
Almost as important as your "will the Gilmores ever find out that their daughter isn't getting married in June?" is has Rory worked a day at the Stamford paper since she got the job there?
Anonymous said…
Like every TV junkie I am excited for May Sweeps. But there is a part of me that wishes U.S. television followed the British model of fewer episodes per season. Not because I want to see less of my favorite shows but because I would rather see an uninterrupted run of excellent episodes rather than the U.S. model where shows are often off for a couple of weeks or pushed aside for sports, etc. A show loses its momentum when it's off and then on and then off again. And in the case of many new shows trying to find an audience, this scenario can be deadly. Cable networks, such as HBO, have broken away from this model successfully. They do not rely on "Sweeps" to bolster audiences or have to save up their "best" episodes, lining them up like ducks in a row. Every episode strives to be the best. And, although there are fewer episodes, the season often feels more satisfying without gaps and/or "filler" epidodes. (Of course, there's often a greater gap between seasons which can also be frustrating.) And, obviously, there are the advertising gods to please so I'll have to remain patient with the bumpy scheduling of network shows in the U.S...for now.

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