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Get ready to be swept away by prime time television in May

Posted 8:23am on Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013

The broadcast networks are counting the days until they begin their summer vacations.

May "sweeps" is a four-week period jam-packed with season finales for scripted dramas and comedies, and with the crowning of champions in competition-reality shows.

After that, the prime-time feed might as well go dark -- all there will be are reruns and a handful of originals that weren't worthy of airing during fall, winter or spring.

The conventional wisdom for years has been that the viewing audience dwindles to near nothing in summer months. So why waste the good stuff when no one's watching? Shut everything down in May.

This year, that means more than 65 season and/or series finales on five broadcast networks in 28 days.

The cable networks, bless them, will fill the void in summer with some of their best programming.

But isn't it possible that people quit watching TV in the summer because there's nothing good on? Isn't it possible that, if you make it -- and if you make it worthwhile -- they will stay?

And while we ponder that issue, here's our guide to the end-of-season highlights for May sweeps.

'The winner is ...'

American Idol: With four finalists remaining, Idol is assured of its first female champ since Jordin Sparks won in 2007. Never before has one gender dominated the show as it has this season. Could the influx of female judges have had an impact? The last two-hour live showdown episode will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, on KDFW/Channel 4. Winner announced in the 7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, episode.

Dancing With the Stars: With seven couples remaining, the stakes will get higher each week, when more than one team is ousted in the Tuesday results episodes. We still say Dorothy Hamill, who bowed out in Week 1 because of health issues, shoulda, woulda, coulda won it all. Last performance episode: 7 p.m. Monday, May 20, on WFAA/Channel 8. Winner announced in a two-hour episode Tuesday, May 21.

The Amazing Race: In the two-hour finale, after sprinting nearly 30,000 miles over five continents, four teams will find themselves bog snorkeling in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Then the final three race to Washington, D.C.'s historic landmarks for the chance to be the $1 million winners. Finale is at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 5, on KTVT/Channel 11.

Survivor: Eight are still competing in the Philippines' Caramoan Islands in this Fans-vs.-Favorites season. The show's 26th Sole Survivor will collect $1 million at the end of the two-hour finale on Sunday, May 12, on KTVT/Channel 11. That will be followed by a reunion show from Los Angeles at 9 p.m.

All-Star Celebrity Apprentice: In the 13th season of The Apprentice and the sixth celebrity version, the last bat-guano-crazy celebrity standing will earn the honor of delivering a $250,000 check to his or her designated charity. The two-hour finale is at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 19, on KXAS/Channel 5.

The Voice: This is the only heavy-hitter competition show that won't wrap its season during sweeps. Knockout Rounds begin on Monday. The two-hour finale is Tuesday, June 18, on KXAS/Channel 5. It's early, but we think Team Usher has the edge.

Last hurrahs

The Office: In its heyday, this show was quite possibly the greatest workplace comedy on television. Unfortunately, it overstayed its welcome, meaning its one-hour farewell isn't so much an event as an obligation. Maybe the ending should have been when office manager Michael Scott left town, asking the camera crew, "Will you guys let me know if this [documentary about a Scranton paper company] ever airs?" The one-hour finale is at 8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, on KXAS/Channel 5.

90210: You have to hand it to the CW. The network tends to stand by its shows. 90210 went into ratings freefall -- from 4.6 million viewers in 2008 to barely half a million in 2013 -- yet the network let it play for the remainder of this season. And now those few loyal remaining viewers are getting rewarded with a series finale and closure (at 8 p.m. Monday, May 13, KDAF/Channel 33). Classy.

Community: It's not officially canceled, but don't count on another season. This is another great comedy that ran too long and got mired in what is likely a lame duck season. Actually, Community was always ratings-challenged, maybe because it was too surreal. The season got a late start, so none of the holiday-themed episodes coincided with the right time of year. That's how little the network cared. (7 p.m. Thursday, May 9, KXAS/Channel 5)

Big developments

The Good Wife (8 p.m. Sunday, KTVT/Channel 11): On the night of Peter's gubernatorial election, Alicia, Will and Diane race to emergency court proceedings when Zach believes he has witnessed vote tampering.

Bones (7 p.m. Monday, KDFW/Channel 4): When evil tech genius Christopher Pelant returns to toy with the Jeffersonian team, they discover a string of murders tied to FBI agents close to Booth.

The Following (8 p.m. Monday, KDFW/Channel 4): Ryan races to stop serial killer Joe Carroll before his end game reaches a deadly conclusion.

Parks and Recreation (8:30 p.m. Thursday, May 2, KXAS/Channel 5): Leslie celebrates her first year as a city councilor, while April gets some life-changing news.

Happy Endings (7:30 p.m. Friday, May 3, WFAA/Channel 8): Jane has the daunting task of planning a wedding for a more perfect and exquisite older sister.

The Mentalist (9 p.m. Sunday, May 5, KTVT/Channel 11): Just as Jane winnows the Red John suspect list to seven, Red John strikes again -- and the victim has a link to Jane's past.

Person of Interest (8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, KTVT/Channel 11): When the Machine goes offline, Finch and Reese join forces with surprising allies in a race to save it.

Glee (8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, KDFW/Channel 4): Members of New Directions travel to regionals, but the competition gets tough when they go head-to-head with the Hoosierdaddies.

How I Met Your Mother (7 p.m. Monday, May 13, KTVT/Channel 11): As the gang prepares to go to Robin and Barney's wedding, Ted invites Lily to see the house he has at long last finished fixing up.

NCIS (7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, KTVT/Channel 11): The international manhunt for Eli David's killer turns into a federal witch hunt against Gibbs, his team and their unconventional methods.

New Girl (8 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, KDFW/Channel 4): Cece's big wedding day finds Jess and Nick making a decision about their relationship, while Schmidt schemes to sabotage the nuptials.

The Vampire Diaries (7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, KDAF/Channel 33): It's graduation at Mystic Falls, Elena might have to choose between Stefan and Damon, and someone will get their teeth on a vampire cure.

Elementary (8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, KTVT/Channel 11): In a two-hour episode, Sherlock reels at the reappearance of his ex, Irene Adler, and he and Joan face off again against Moriarty.

Criminal Minds (8 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, KTVT/Channel 11): The BAU's pursuit of "The Replicator," the UnSub that has been stalking the team all season, comes to a head when one of their own is a victim.

More May finales

Wife Swap (7 p.m. Wednesday, ABC)

Red Widow (9 p.m. Sunday, May 5, ABC)

Splash (7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, ABC)

Hart of Dixie (7 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, CW)

Two and a Half Men (7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9, CBS)

Vegas (8 p.m. Friday, May 10, CBS)

Blue Bloods (9 p.m. Friday, May 10, CBS)

Kitchen Nightmares (7 p.m. Friday, May 10, Fox)

Fashion Star (7 p.m. Friday, May 10, NBC)

Touch (8 p.m. Friday, May 10, Fox)

Once Upon a Time (7 p.m. Sunday, May 12, ABC)

Bob's Burgers (7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 12, Fox)

Revenge (8 p.m. Sunday, May 12, ABC, 2 hours)

American Dad (8:30 p.m. Sunday, May 12, Fox)

2 Broke Girls (8 p.m., Monday, May 13, CBS)

NCIS: Los Angeles (8 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, CBS)

Golden Boy (9 p.m. Tuesday, May 13, CBS)

Castle (9 p.m. Monday, May 13, ABC)

The Mindy Project (8:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, Fox)

Arrow (7 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, CW)

Supernatural (8 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, CW)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (9 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, CBS)

Chicago Fire (9 p.m. Wednesday, May 15, NBC)

The Big Bang Theory (7 p.m. Thursday, May 16, CBS)

Grey's Anatomy (8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, ABC)

Beauty and the Beast (8 p.m. Thursday, May 16, CW)

Scandal (9 p.m. Thursday, May 16, ABC)

Nikita (7 p.m. Friday, May 17, CW)

Shark Tank (8 p.m. Friday, May 17, ABC)

Cult (8 p.m. Friday, May 17, CW)

Grimm (8 p.m. Friday, May 17, NBC)

America's Funniest Home Videos (6 p.m. Sunday, May 19, ABC)

The Cleveland Show (6 p.m. Sunday, May 19, Fox)

The Simpsons (7 p.m. Sunday, May 19, Fox)

Family Guy (8 p.m. Sunday, May 19, Fox)

Rules of Engagement (7:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, CBS)

Mike & Molly (8:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, CBS)

Hawaii Five-O (9 p.m. Monday, May 20, CBS)

The Middle (7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, ABC)

Modern Family (8 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, ABC)

Nashville (9 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, ABC)

Law & Order: SVU (8 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, NBC, 2 hours)

Revolution (9 p.m. Monday, May 27, NBC, ending after sweeps)

Body of Proof (9 p.m. Tuesday, May 28, ABC, ending after sweeps)

Hannibal (9 p.m. Thursday, June 27, NBC, ending after sweeps)

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