When supermodels, overblown miniseries, and Oprah start ambushing prime time, you know it’s that time of year when the networks will do anything to reel you in: sweeps. This November, however, will be less wacky than most since the Olympics delayed the new fall schedules – with Fox’s slate debuting only this week. What does this mean for viewers? ”Fewer gimmicks and stunts,” says Marc Berman, a TV analyst at Mediaweek.com. ”The networks just need to see how their shows are doing; [they’re] not trying to pull out all the stops.” With that caveat in mind, here’s EW.com’s roundup of the splashier sweeps events for the coming week.
? THURSDAY, NOV. 2
”Surprise Wedding” (8 p.m., Fox)
See Darva Conger and Rick Rockwell patch things up on Fox’s newest reality special. Well… not exactly. But you can see five women propose immediate marriage to their commitment phobic boyfriends – all in front of a live audience.
”Just Shoot Me” (9:30 p.m., NBC)
Former ”Mr. Show” star David Cross returns as Elliott’s con artist little brother, Slow Donnie, now an allegedly successful insurance salesman – toupee and all, natch.
? FRIDAY, NOV. 3
”Popular” (9 p.m., the WB)
Michelle Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas) debuts in the first of two shows as – what else? – a former homecoming queen who returns to Kennedy High to crown her successor.
”20/20” (10 p.m., ABC)
Babs meets Babs! In an exclusive interview, talk mistress Barbara Walters sits down for the fifth time with bettah than buttah Barbra Streisand. Maybe now we’ll finally find out why she married James Brolin. (Or, better yet, why he married her.)
? SATURDAY, NOV. 4
”Radio Music Awards” (8 p.m., ABC)
In boy band withdrawal? This live awards show should be just the fix you’re looking for. The Backstreet Boys and Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath cohost; a coterie of pop stars – Christina, 98 Degrees, Enrique, Ricky, and Joe, to name a few – are scheduled to appear.
”MAD TV” (11 p.m., Fox)
WWF cover girl Chyna guests in two sketches during this election themed installment. In another, Will Sasso plays a post White House Clinton who now appears on ”General Hospital” as Nurse No. 2, opposite familiar Port Charles citizens Jackie Zeman, Jacob Young, and Rebecca Herbst.
? SUNDAY, NOV. 5
Premiere Night on Fox (7-10 p.m.)
Bender turns into a wererobot (as in werewolf) on ”Futurama,” while Bobby caddies for Hank’s boss on ”King of the Hill.” At 8 p.m., the Who perform for Springfield’s cast of characters on ”The Simpsons,” followed by the reappearance of Dewey on ”Malcolm in the Middle.” And at 9 p.m., meet new F.B.I. Special Agent John Doggett (Robert Patrick) on ”The X-Files.”
”Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis” (9 p.m., CBS)
What’s a sweeps season without a miniseries about a Kennedy? In this one, Joanne Whalley (”Willow”) plays the woman with many surnames. Costars include miniseries regulars Tom Skerritt as Joe Kennedy, Philip Baker Hall (”Magnolia”) as Ari Onassis, and former Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy as Bobby Kennedy.
”Saturday Night Live Presidential Bash 2000” (9 p.m., NBC)
Vote for your favorite presidential impersonator after watching SNL’s two hour roundup of their best political sketches. Let Darrell Hammond ”feel your pain.”
? MONDAY, NOV. 6
”Moesha” (8 p.m., UPN)
NAACP President Kweisi Mfume – who last year vocally protested the dearth of black actors in prime time – now becomes one, and ”Parkers” star Mo’Nique crosses over for a special election episode.
”Yes, Dear” (8:30 p.m., CBS)
Who doesn’t want to see an ’80s hair band revival? Greg and Jimmy end up at a private party at former Poison frontman Bret Michaels’ pad. Ratt’s Stephen Pearcy must not have been available.
”Ally McBeal” (9 p.m., Fox)
Ling (Lucy Liu) and Nelle (Portia de Rossi) represent everyone’s favorite sitcom mom, Florence Henderson (”The Brady Bunch”), here playing against type as the teacher of a ”How to Satisfy Your Man” course who is being sued by her students. Sex advice from Carol Brady? Yech.
? TUESDAY, NOV. 7
Election Day Coverage
After you vote, tune in for extensive on air coverage from ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and CNN the entire night.
”The Daily Show” (10 p.m., Comedy Central) If you can’t stand network correspondents and their overly serious take on politics (not to mention their laughable combovers), mosey on over to cable for witty Jon Stewart’s live ”Indecision 2000” special.
? WEDNESDAY, NOV. 8
”Bette” (8 p.m., CBS)
Miss M., meet O. Bette is a celebrity panelist on Oprah’s book club. Problem is, Bette hasn’t read the book. Imagine the high jinks!
”The Drew Carey Show” (9 p.m., ABC)
In what’s becoming an annual event, Drew and company – including the improv aces from ”Whose Line Is It Anyway?” – perform live for each of the three time zones. Basically, they have three chances to get it right.
”Felicity” (9 p.m., the WB)
Noel falls for a beautiful classmate (model Tyra Banks in the first of a three episode arc) after fixing a glitch on her Mac. Thank God Heidi Klum uses a PC!
”Star Trek: Voyager” (9 p.m., UPN)
Trekkie VCR Alert: Lt. Reg Barclay (Dwight Schultz) and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) of ”The Next Generation” turn up during a dangerous Starfleet mission.
? THURSDAY, NOV. 9
”Battle of the Child Geniuses 2” (8 p.m., Fox)
Talk about peer pressure: A herd of 10 to 12 year olds compete for a $150,000 trust. The quizmaster is none other than the perpetually youthful man child Dick Clark.
”Will & Grace” (9 p.m., NBC)
Not one, but two guest stars: Jeremy Piven plays Grace’s ex, who proposes a ménage à trois. And it’s love Banana Republic style for Jack, now a sales clerk at the beige clothier, who enlists Will – à la ”Cyrano de Bergerac” – in his attempts to woo a customer (Patrick Dempsey).
? FRIDAY, NOV. 10
”Two Guys and a Girl” (8 p.m., ABC)
This may be prime time’s first dialogue free sitcom. That’s right, the ensemble of actors will rely solely on slapstick (and sound effects) to further the plot. It makes sense: Their scripts haven’t been funny since, well, the show’s debut.
”Nash Bridges” (10 p.m., CBS)
”Survivor” mania continues on CBS. Former castaways Jenna Lewis, Gervase Peterson, Joel Klug, and Sean Kenniff guest star as the neighbors of show regular Harvey Leek (Jeff Perry). Hey CBS, how about completing the crossover by marooning Don Johnson?