Sitcoms call it a night before sweeps

The networks used to wait until the end of May sweeps to wrap up their seasons with romantic cliffhangers, impromptu proposals, sudden weddings and UFO abductions. Tonight, two NBC comedies will air their season, and possibly series, finales a full week before sweeps begin. All of this unfolds less than a week after "Ed" called it quits for the year, or perhaps forever, and scant days before the "Boomtown" finale scheduled for Sunday. At this rate, NBC's May sweeps period will consist of nothing but endless "Law & Order" spin-offs, super-sized "Friends" episodes and the twice-postponed, but less-than-hotly anticipated, "Three's Company" TV movie.

Will NBC say good night to "Good Morning, Miami" (8:30 p.m., NBC)? Will Jake (Mark Feuerstein) and Dylan (Ashley Williams) ever find love? Do you even know who Jake and Dylan are? For those who care, Gavin (Matt Letscher) will make a live, on-air proposal to Dylan. When she treats this romantic gesture with nonchalance, Jake sees his big opportunity. Of course, if Jake ever makes his move, "Good Morning" will lose any semblance of comedic tension.

This office comedy has been botched from the start. Just why are we supposed to root for the brash, successful Jake? Particularly when he dithers between the cute and spunky Dylan and the cute and funky Penny (Constance Zimmer)? It's as if Lou Grant were a yuppie boss on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and was carrying on a thing with Mary and Rhoda at the same time. NBC should give this media sitcom the ax. But it probably won't.

  • "Scrubs" (7:30 p.m., NBC) seems a safer bet for renewal. In tonight's second-season closer, J.D. (Zach Braff) and Turk (Donald Faison) have second thoughts about their grueling profession after their former fraternity brother (Ryan Reynolds) blows into town flush with cash from his corporate gig.
  • "Friends" (7 p.m., NBC) sets the stage for the last month of its largely forgettable, penultimate season. In tonight's episode, Rachel can't fight her feelings for Joey. Characters in the comedy switch partners almost as often as they do on "ER."
  • News magazines are clearly responding to viewer appetite for stories other than war coverage. Recent specials, including Katie Couric's interview with the victim of the 1989 Central Park jogger case and Diane Sawyer's chat with Lisa Marie Presley, scored higher-than-average ratings.

"The Pulse" (8 p.m., Fox) returns to lighter celebrity and tabloid fare with scheduled stories about kids who hurt themselves while imitating "Jackass"-type stunts; a pill that might stop menstruation; and two wealthy brothers who could be America's most eligible bachelors. Not an embedded reporter in sight.

"Primetime" (9 p.m., ABC) focuses on the 10th anniversary of the standoff and fiery end to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Charlie Gibson speaks with seven Branch Davidians who were children in 1993, as well as an FBI negotiator who explains his side of the tragedy.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Now that the bossy, know-it-all Deena has been given the heave-ho, "Survivor" (7 p.m., CBS) takes a break from the elimination with a clip show. Tonight's "excitement" includes scenes of Christy teaching her tribe members to sign.
  • Contestants compete in front of a live audience on back-to-back episodes of "All American Girl" (7 p.m. and 8 p.m., ABC).
  • Will's surprise party for Grace lacks a certain something on "Will & Grace" (8 p.m., NBC).


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