The Sporting Life: May Sweeps Edition

Genelle Williams and Cass Teague

Genelle Williams and Cass Teague

I am addicted to televison. There, I’ve said it. I love TV. I live for season premieres and sweeps episodes, get anxious when a season finale arrives, and cry [imaginary] crocodile tears over a series finale of a favorite show. And don’t even get me started when [yes, i’m talking about you, Joss Whedon and George R.R. Martin!] shows kill off beloved characters, whether they are heroes or villains. I recognize that most villains are the heroes in their narratives, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.

This spring, as usual, the May sweeps period rolls right into the mid-May network upfronts, those dog-and-pony shows with the show stars and network brass for potential advertising buyers and anchor sponsors for series going into production for the Fall season. With notable exceptions, this has been the pattern for decades, and the upfronts have expanded into an entire nationwide season for dozens of cable/satellite networks from a single week in New York City for the big five broadcast networks. This is when most shows that have not already learnt their fate will know if they are Renewed or Cancelled. We will also know all the new shows and the new schedule for 2014/15:

MAJOR BROADCAST NETWORKS UPFRONTS SCHEDULE

MONDAY May 12, 2014 NBC Morning May 12, 2014 FOX Afternoon
TUESDAY May 13, 2014 Univision Morning May 13, 2014 ABC Afternoon
WEDNESDAY May 14, 2014 CBS Afternoon
THURSDAY May 15, 2014 The CW Morning

Thursday, April 24 marked the start of the four-week May 2014 Neilsen ratings sweeps period. The big five main broadcast networks ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC traditionally pull out the stops to program exciting guest stars, event episodes and story arcs, and provide impactful season finales, often with stunning cliffhangers like “Who Shot J.R.?” that had viewers in a frenzy an entire summer for the CBS night soap Dallas decades ago.

Most notable among sweeps programming this spring is the return of Keifer Sutherland as Jack Bauer on Monday, May 5 for a fresh 12-episode run of 24:Live Another Day as the iconic counterterrorist agent tries to foil an assasssination attempt on POTUS (the U.S. President) in London Monday nights on Fox. FOX will be bringing back Sleepy Hollow and Bones. I wish they would have renewed Almost Human, but knowing Fox, they won’t renew a superb quality sci-fi show with real good character chemistry and a fascinating subtextual throughline when they can bring back (crap like) comedies Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl and The Mindy Project and drama The Following. At least we can cherish COSMOS into early June.

ABC is saying goodbye to Christina on Grey’s Anatomy as Sandra Oh ends her run as Dr. Christina Yang, while Nashville promises a season finale so compelling that you won’t want to miss “One Single Note.” Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had better return next season after their May 13 season finale, which ironically falls on the day of the ABC upfront. That series really got traction after its amazing crossover Uprising story arc intersected with the Captain America: The Winter Soldier film. Kudos the the Marvel Cinematic Universe for combining the mega-starpower and massive special / visual effects of the film along with continuing character and story development aspects of the television medium to really ratchet up the world of the Avengers, Nick Fury, Hydra and the Marvel multiverses. They are so far ahead of the curve on SONY, whose The Amazing Spiderman 2 was a thrilling, action-packed, over-long (2 hrs, 20 min) downer to me; and the forthcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past movie doesn’t exactly feel like it will live up to it’s (over) hype. Guardians of the Galaxy is looking to be the sleeper hit of the summer.

The CW is wrapping up freshman series The Tomorrow People, Star-Crossed, and The 100, while sending sophmore sensation Arrow out with a big bang. Interestingly, the two nights after the end of sweeps, The CW is airing a new mini-series version of Labyrinth Thursday, May 22 and Friday, May 23. (“The CW’s summer season will kick off with the premiere of the network’s four-hour miniseries Labyrinth. The miniseries, which stars John Hurt and Jessica Brown-Findlay, will air over two nights: May 22 and 23 (8-10 p.m. ET). Announced back in January, the miniseries — an adaption of the Kate Mosse best-seller — will jump back and forth between modern and medieval France to show the lives of two women who, despite being separated by centuries, are united in their search for the Holy Grail. Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton, and Vanessa Kirby also star.” – EW/Inside TV); I’m kinda “meh” about it. Hopefully, they’ll bring back Beauty and the Beast in the fall after new episodes return for the June 2 through July 7 run of the final second season episodes.

NBC wraps up Revolution and Grimm. Hopefully, they’ll both return next fall. Sweeps brings us an update of Rosemary’s Baby as a mini-series on Sunday, May 11 and Thursday, May 15. (“In the first trailer for the Rosemary’s Baby miniseries, Zoe Saldana’s Rosemary Woodhouse couldn’t be happier to become a mom — until she’s not so sure just what is growing inside her.The four-hour miniseries — airing in two installments on Sunday, May 11, and Thursday, May 15, at 9 p.m. on NBC — is based on Ira Levin’s 1967 novel, which also spawned (sorry) an Oscar-winning Roman Polanski film in 1968. Alongside Saldana, the new incarnation stars Patrick J. Adams (Suits) as her husband who makes a literal deal with the devil.”

CBS has ended How I Met Your Mother, and The Big Bang Theory will return, along with Elementary, Person of Interest and Hawai’i Five-O (w/o the ridiculous ‘Let’s go to Afghanistan’ plots). Hopefully, so, too, will The Crazy Ones and Intelligence (see Almost Human above).

And, on cable/satellite, Game of Thrones reigns on Sunday nights at HBO in its fourth season through June 15. Mondays , Warehouse 13 concludes its fifth and final season May 19 on SyFy as we say a fond farewell to Pete Lattimer, Myka Bering, Claudia Donovan, Artie, Mrs. Frederic, Jincs, and especially Leena, played by the amazing Genelle Williams. Williams recently ended a frantic first season of Bitten with Laura Vandervoort, and hopefully will return next spring for a second season following April 7th’s cliffhanger ending. Continuum continues to push the envelope on time travel on SyFy Friday until its third season concludes June 27. And BBCAmerica’s Supernatural Saturdays has the scintillating second season of the Peabody award winning series Orphan Black, highlighted by the absolutely stunning performances by Tatiany Maslany of multiple versions of herself as iterations of her “clone club” characters, including Sarah, Beth, Allison, Cosima, Helena, Rachel, and Katja, The fascinating four-part series The Real History of Science Fiction explores Robots, Space, Invasions, and Time Travel in the hour following Orphan Black. Doctor Who is slated to return in September, but the summer will be fun as this June several favorites return including Defiance, Falling Skies, Pretty Little Liars, True Blood, and Under the Dome to SyFy, TNT, ABCFamily, HBO, and CBS, respectively.