TV Article

TV Season Finales: Tying the Knots and Twisting the Plots

In May, all's well that ends well

Rerun hell is fast approaching, but before you're forced to suffer through a summer of dry leftovers, you can indulge in a month of sundaes — a dessert course of season finales. Here's a guide to the sinful pleasures ahead.

I Do, I Do

For whom do the wedding bells toll? The better question might be: For whom don't they? More than a half-dozen shows are staging marriage ceremonies (not including last week's series finale of Empty Nest, which featured two hitchings). On a two-part WINGS (NBC, May 23, 8-9 p.m.), when Joe (Tim Daly) and Helen (Crystal Bernard) celebrate their last night as singles, ''I end up getting handcuffed to a stripper,'' says Bernard. The next day, their plans to get to the church on time spiral down the drain. ''It's like Fawlty Towers,'' says Bernard. ''Things go wrong at weddings, but not this wrong.'' Tell that to Martin (Martin Lawrence) and Gina (Tisha Campbell), who flee to a remote locale after their overbearing relatives roll into town and cause matrimonial madness on a two-part MARTIN (Fox, May 11 and 18, 8-8:30 p.m.).

It's a far calmer affair on NYPD BLUE (ABC, May 23, 10-11 p.m.) when Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) ties the knot with Costas (Sharon Lawrence). But this being a gutsy detective show, Sipowicz spends most of his time working on a Chinatown murder case, not the crease in his tuxedo pants.

Less than a year after attempting suicide, Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) heads down the aisle with Taglieri (Rick Rossovich) on ER (NBC, May 18, 10-11 p.m.). But don't expect the ceremony to follow standard operating procedure, especially after Taglieri surprises Hathaway with some news. ''We'll change our style and really take some time with this,'' says executive producer John Wells. But in keeping with ER's realistic bent, ''only a few hospital people can go to the wedding because of work,'' so the final episode will jump to and from the hospital, where Benton (Eriq La Salle) becomes further humanized in a struggle to help a dying AIDS patient.

On THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR (NBC, May 15, 8-8:30 p.m.), Will (Will Smith) and Lisa (Nia Long) do battle with severe wedding-day jitters. Ditto on MURPHY BROWN (CBS, May 15, 9-9:30 p.m.), as Murphy (Candice Bergen) has second thoughts about marrying Peter Hunt (Scott Bakula). Considering that Bakula has shot a pilot for this fall, don't send any wedding gifts. Better save them for Corky (Faith Ford) and Miles (Grant Shaud), who share a kiss at Hunt's strip-club bachelor party.

Decent Proposals

Before there can be a wedding, there must be an engagement — or at least a romance — and there's no shortage of these, either. After leaving Lex Luthor at the altar at last season's end, Lois (Teri Hatcher) finds a new potential fiancé in Clark (Dean Cain) on LOIS & CLARK (ABC, May 21, 8-9 p.m.). ''We should just end every season for five years with me marrying somebody,'' Hatcher jokes. ''It's going to be a running gag: Will she pick the right guy?'' Even Hatcher doesn't know the answer — three endings were shot for this one. The proposal, filmed in a park, was no picnic. ''I stood in the freezing cold at three in the morning getting dumped on by cold rain,'' Hatcher says. ''I was doing all that positive imaging: I'm in Tahiti, the sun is coming down on my body ... ''

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