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March 03, 2004 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-03

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Wednesday
March 3, 2004
arts.michigandaily.com
artseditor@michigandaily.com

AIRT Skbtgan

5

THE HOTTEST PICKS IN ENTERTAINMENT
FROM A DAILY ARTS WRITER

Courtesy of NBC, CBS and FOX

S WEET SWEPS
GRADING THE NETWORKS
F our months a year, the four major television networks pull out
all of the stops in a shameless attempt to gain viewers. During
these times, known as sweeps, audiences can look forward to
outrageous guest appearances, bizarre plot twists and innovative
new programming, and this February proved to be no different.
Here is the Daily s report card on this year's sweeps:

SL11

The Beach Boys' Smile. Finally - Recorded in 1967 as a follow
up to Pet Sounds and a retort to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts
Club Band, Smile was shelved when frontman Brian Wilson lost him-
self in paranoia and drugs. The Holy Grail of lost albums sends shivers
into the very heart of my rock 'n' roll nerd-dom.

ABC
Sweeps looked bleak to ABC for the first couple
weeks of February. Despite the debut of "Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition" and keeping their sitcoms
stocked with guest stars such as Dan Aykroyd, Roger
Clemens, LeBron James and Kathie Lee Gifford, the
Alphabet network failed to have a show in.the top 30
until the very end of the month.
First to bring in ratings for the network was Diane
Sawyer's "Primetime" interview with Mel Gibson.
Helping to fuel the controversy over "The Passion of
the Christ," the interview was the first bright glimmer
of hope on ABC's horizon.
The network fortunately found sweeps salvation
with Regis Philbin's "Super Millionaire." The
revamped phenomenon saved the network, with the
premiere bringing in 17.5 million viewers. Also help-
ing in ABC's redemption was the 76th Academy
Awards. The return of Billy Crystal as host and an
Oscar sweep by "The Lord of the Rings: The Return
of the King" spelled success for the lengthy show,
pulling in its biggest audience since 2000.
The network gained some respect from the iast-
minute redemption of the Oscars and "Super Mil-
lionaire," but still had a dismal showing. They
didn't come up with anything new or too horribly
exciting and got the ratings they deserved for their
little efforts. C
CBS
February was a banner month for CBS. The Eye
network earned monstrous ratings for their coverage
of Super Bowl XXXVIII, drawing 89 million view-
ers, slightly up from last year. CBS also beat out the

competition with coverage of the Grammy Awards.
Ratings stayed strong for CBS, as "C.S.I." held the
top spot, while "C.S.I.: Miami" also remained in the
top 10, making the franchise worthy of yet another
spin-off this fall. "Everybody Loves Raymond,"
which may be in its final season, also remained a big
draw. Perennial favorite "60 Minutes" continued to
bring in viewers, while "Survivor: All-Stars" revived
the series by sending favorites such as Richard Hatch
and Rupert Boneham back to the island.
In a bold move, CBS featured no guest stars on
their most popular shows, focusing instead on
advancing storylines and the outrageousness of "Sur-
vivor." The network used well-known characters on
their shows, combined with big TV events, to draw in
viewers. CBS looks to be in great shape heading into
the end of the television season. B+
NBC
The race for ratings this February was a celebrity
parade on NBC with Michael J. Fox leading a slew of
big-name stars. Luckily, Fox picked the right NBC
comedy to kick-start his return to television as the
hilarious sitcom "Scrubs" featured him as an obses-
sive-compulsive surgeon in two episodes. Another
highlight was the network premiere of the family
favorite "Shrek," which was perfectly timed for the
upcoming sequel.
Tracy Ullman appeared on "Will and Grace" as a
wacky cooking instructor with a prosthetic finger but
her talent was seriously underplayed in this weak
episode. Minnie Driver's reprised role as Lorraine,
however, was a humorous addition to the ensemble
that will continue into March.
Of course, this month brought the long-awaited

wedding between Phoebe and Mike on "Friends."
However, having Joey conduct the ceremony has
been seen before and the banter between Ross and
Chandler about being in the wedding party was too
trivial to carry the episode.
Overall it appears that NBC's star-studded Febru-
ary brought little to the already established and pre-
dictable storylines. Ratings are actually more likely to
boost at the end of the season as the network will air
many popular series and season finales. B-
FOX
The FOX network, who has a reputation for push-
ing the envelope with its programming, had a vacil-
lating sweeps month. "American Idol" returned and
did not miss a step, as audiences watched in mass
quantities, proving the show's third season will be just
as big as the first two. In addition, the reality special
"The Littlest Groom" was a heartwarming tale, and
strong episodes from mainstays such as "24" and
"The Simpsons" gave the network a boost.
Unfortunately, FOX failed with their other new
programs."Man vs. Beast 2" failed to create the
excitement and drama of the first installment, and the
finale to "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" was embar-
rassing to watch, as the bride who lied to her parents
was given the million dollars anyway.
FOX took the most chances during February out
of any of the four big networks and should be
applauded for trying to give audiences the most
entertaining programs possible. Although not every
show was a success, they upheld the "anything for
ratings" attitude that make sweeps the most exciting
months on television. A-
- Compiled by the Daily TV/New Media staff

"Die Hard: With a Vengeance" - In anticipation of summer, a
quick nod to the finest summer film ever released. This is not to be con-
fused with "Die Hard 2: Die Harder," the second-greatest holiday film
ever released.
Jaded Robot at www.chunklet.com - What-
ever. This Furious Five was so much better
when Andrew showed me a printout of the
original Word document. I was too busy
alphabetizing my Chapterhouse singles to
really read it, however, but I can't
imagine he's improved it
much since then. Whatever.
Aqua Teen Hunger Force -
Meatwad, Frylock and Master
Shake are crime fighters, but
mostly they just sit around the
house. It also features the best
theme song since "Green Acres."
Baseball - The Passion of the
Johnny Damon: Too bad his new
beard won't improve his arm ... or
his OPS. And leave it to the Cubs to
- literally - let Mark Prior's
Achilles heel dampen the season.
Will the circle be unbroken? Courtesy of Cartoon Network
THIS WEEK IN DAILY ARTS HISTORY
"THROUGHOUT, SANDLER WAS THERE FOR HIS
AUDIENCE, WARNING THE OLDER FOLK TO
FAKE LIKE THEY WERE GOING TO THE BATH-
ROOM OR SOMETHING SO THEY COULD MISS
THE OFFENSIVE PARTS.
-As quoted in the Daily's review ofA dam Sandler's
performance at HillAuditorium on Mar 7, 1994.

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