May is a month when network executives most want to capture your eyeballs. Networks run the flashiest shows possible to boost ratings, while bean counters measure their audiences to set advertising rates.
This month, viewers get the 200th episode of ER and the 300th episode of Law & Order. Angela Lansbury returns to prime time in a Murder, She Wrote movie. And American Idol will go out with a bang, picking its second big winner. CBS plans biopics about two very different figures: Lucille Ball and Adolf Hitler.
Networks scheduled little family-friendly product for this sweeps period, unless CBS's Touched By an Angel finale, featuring David Ogden Steirs as the Devil, counts. As with every sweeps period, some of the shows are sensational fluff; Fox's Mr. Personality and NBC's Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of Three's Company are examples.
Sweeps actually started at the end of April-and launched with a dud. The Fox special Michael Jackson's Home Videos was a ratings disaster, perhaps showing that Americans have had enough of the Gloved One's bizarre personal life.