Shows Sweep In, Then Out During a Strange TV Season

How else would a strange season end but with a strange sweeps month? Traditionally the broadcast year's last big blowout event, the May sweeps still bring a cavalcade of season and series finales; they just may not mean as much in a year in which many of the shows are concluding just weeks after they returned. Still, highlights are to be found. And in case you were wondering, those highlights in the last week actually fall outside of the traditional May and seasonal boundaries. Strange, indeed.

May 1: "Grey's Anatomy"

(ABC, 9 ET/PT)

Addy's back -- but don't get reattached. With "Private Practice" on hiatus until fall, Kate Walsh makes a one-night return visit to her former (and better) stomping grounds.

May 5: "Two and a Half Men"

(CBS, 9 ET/PT)

One of the sweeps' cleverest stunts kicks off with a "Men" murder written by the folks at "CSI". The "Men" team returns the favor Thursday, writing a "CSI" about the death of a sitcom diva. And if the diva seems familiar, "Men's" creator also created Cybill.

May 8: "Scrubs"

(NBC, 8:30 ET/PT)

May 8: "30 Rock"

(NBC, 9:30 ET/PT)

It's a short sweeps for two NBC sitcoms. "Scrubs" and "30 Rock" wrap up early, with "Scrubs" leaving NBC -- though probably not TV -- for good.

May 11: "The Simpsons"

(Fox, 8 ET/PT)

Great guests help "The Simpsons" wrap up the season: This week, Glenn Close (returning as Homer's mom) and Lance Armstrong; next week, Drew Carey, in an episode that turns Lisa into a TV star. You always knew she had it in her.

May 12: "American Gladiators"

(NBC, 8 ET/PT)

Amid the departures are a few arrivals, like the two-hour relaunching of "Gladiators". Hey, I didn't say they were welcome arrivals.

May 15: "ER"

(NBC, 10 ET/PT)

We may not be able to name the regular cast members anymore at "ER", but we can name the year's last guests: Hal Holbrook, Stanley Tucci and Steve Buscemi. Imagine the series you could build around the three of them.

May 18: "Desperate Housewives"

(ABC, 9 ET/PT)

"Desperate" often likes to wrap up with a marriage or a funeral -- and seeing as we've already had a wedding … Still, you'll just have to wait and see what this two-hour ender brings.

Or you can turn to CBS for the "Academy of Country Music Awards" (8 ET/PT), hosted by Reba McEntire. Because what would sweeps be without some country singer accepting an award?

May 19: "House"

(Fox, 9 ET/PT)

Our favorite obnoxious doc ends his season with the second of two parts, as he struggles to remember what happened in the last episode. A lot of that going around.

May 20: "NCIS"

(CBS, 8 ET/PT)

Odds are very good someone dies in this two-hour special. Odds are even better many of us won't care.

May 21: "American Idol"

(Fox, 8 ET/PT)

We will care about this: the crowning of the latest "Idol". Not sure why we'd care enough to devote two hours to the process, but there you have it.

May 22: "Ugly Betty"

(ABC, 8 ET/PT)

The last official day of the season brings the last "Betty", followed by the two-hour wrap-up of "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 9 ET/PT). Seems like an odd time to try to kick off summer series "So You Think You Can Dance" (Fox, 8 ET/PT).

May 28: "Men in Trees"

(ABC, 10 ET/PT)

Having rested "Men in Trees" through the sweeps, ABC brings it back for a final summer run. Then it will rest again, probably permanently.

May 29: "Lost"

(ABC, 9 ET/PT)

The sweeps may be over -- but the fun doesn't end until Lost says it does. And it has its say with this special, two-hour, postseason finale.

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