November sweeps is here and that means all the broadcast networks are pulling out their biggest tricks in order to bring in the most eyeballs to their programming for the highest possible advertising rates.
Even lay television watchers know when sweeps is upon them. It’s marked by an array of outrageous stunt castings, pivotal storylines, crossover episodes, returning characters and special themes, such as a much-hyped musical or animated episode.
This season has it all. From “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s” crossover with feature film “Thor: The Dark World” to requisite “Breaking Bad” guest star on “How I Met Your Mother” to the mother of all reveals on ABC’s “Scandal.” “HIMYM” serves up a rhyming episode and CW’s “The Originals” throws in a surprise crossover with “The Vampire Diaries.” Everything and anything goes during November sweeps.
TheWrap scanned ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW’s offerings and assembled the following list of the good, the deliciously bad, and the “let’s just throw this on the wall and see if it sticks” of November sweeps episodes:
“Fringe” with benefits
“Sleepy Hollow,” Mondays at 9/8c on Fox
Fox kicked off its November sweeps week Monday with the network return of “Fringe” fan-favorite John Noble on its new hit, “Sleepy Hollow.” Noble’s recurring character, the Sin Eater, plays heavily into the series and its characters’ lives because of his powers, showrunner Mark Goffman told TheWrap. His powers? Yeah, he literally eats your sins.
“The Originals,” Tuesdays at 8/9c on The CW
There was a fair amount of denying any sort of crossover episode between “The Originals” and “The Vampire Diaries” on the part of showrunner Julie Plec over the summer. But, that all changed when she told reporters on Tuesday that Tyler (Michael Trevino) puts the woof back in werewolf when he appears on an episode airing in late-November.
“New Girl,” Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox
Damon Wayans Jr.’s character “Coach” returned to “New Girl” on Tuesday. Wayans, who originally starred on the pilot but left for ABC’s “Happy Endings,” will be back for the entire season. No word yet on where this leaves his replacement, Winston (Lamorne Morris).
Mama, is that you?
“Scandal,” Thursdays at 10/9c on ABC
We thought that casting “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow was the November sweeps gimmick. Then, we thought that the surprise reveal that President Grant (Tony Goldwyn) had possibly piloted a plane that shot down the plane carrying Olivia’s (Kerry Washington) mom was the big one. We were wrong on both counts. Creator Shonda Rhimes had another trick up her sleeve: We’re finally going to meet Olivia’s late mother. HBO’s “Treme” actress Khandi Alexander will play her in flashbacks starting with Thursday’s episode! The parent reveal, by the way, is an age-old sweeps gimmick.
Sex and the Crossover
“The Carrie Diaries,” Fridays at 8/7c on The CW
It’s a crossover that also introduces more sex talk into the ratings-challenged prequel series: Always risque Samantha (Lindsey Gort) enters the 80s — funny, because we wondered if she ever left the decade while watching “Sex and the City.”
Dude, it’s Wonder Woman
“Two and a Half Men,” Thursday, Nov. 7 at 9:30/8:30c on CBS
Alan Harper (Jon Cryer) gets a chance to hook up with his crush when former “Wonder Woman” star Lynda Carter, who plays an acquaintance of Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher), drops in on the show Nov. 7. The following week, “Survivor” honcho Jeff Probst appears on the show, presumably as someone that Alan doesn’t try to hit on.
We’re Not Buying It
“The Neighbors,” Friday, Nov. 8 at 8:30/7:30c on ABC
How’s this for a crossover? the stars of “Shark Tank” stop by their Friday night lead-in “The Neighbors.” Not too much? At least the show’s producers and writers are in on the joke. The episode is titled, “We Jumped the Shark (Tank).”
Who’s on top?
“America’s Next Top Model,” Friday, Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 at 9/8c
There really is no better use of sweeps than to actually land your finale during the period – a naturally highly rated episode. But, this is the finale of the first co-ed season. Will a guy win the first “ANTM” ever? Oh, and why not milk it a bit? It’s a two-part finale!
“S.H.I.E.L.D.” gets hammered
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 8/7c on ABC
Brace yourself for a pretty epic show of Marvel’s might. There will be a crossover episode between feature “Thor: The Dark World” and “S.H.I.E.L.D.” Fanboys are already wondering just how this will alter their universe.
Something “Breaking Bad”
“How I Met Your Mother,” Monday, Nov. 11 at 8/7c
Fresh off of his career-making run as chemistry teacher-turned-meth baron Walter White, Bryan Cranston will return to the comedy “How I Met Your Mother,” reprising his role as Ted’s former boss-from-hell Hammond Druthers, who tries to lure Ted into his latest business venture. If it involves a certain blue substance that keeps people up late into the night, Ted would be wise to decline.
A Hail Mary
“Almost Human,” Sunday, Nov. 17 and Monday Nov. 18 at 8/7c on Fox
Fox is banking heavily on its two-night premiere of the new drama from J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman, “Almost Human,” on Nov. 17 and 18. The series was originally supposed to debut Monday, but Fox pushed it back two weeks to take advantage of a football lead-in Sunday night. Another “Fringe” connection here as Wyman served as showrunner on both. But it won’t be dark like “Fringe,” Wyman told TheWrap; the 8 o’clock futuristic Monday show is very family-friendly.
Cote de Pablo who?
“NCIS,” Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 8/7c on CBS
Fans mourning the departure of Cote de Pablo on the CBS drama will have a chance to gain a new favorite character on Nov. 19, when “NCIS” introduces its new regular character Ellie Bishop. Played by “I Am Number Four” actress Emily Wickersham, Bishop is described as “a mysterious mixture of analytic brilliance, fierce determination and idealism who specializes in international threat assessment and global preparation.”
Rough S-E-X and Nia Vardalos!
“Law & Order: SVU,” Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 9/8c on NBC
“SVU” is rolling rough sex, murder and guest star, the always-lovable Nia Vardalos, all into one episode titled, wait for it, “Rapist Anonymous.”
With some Luck
“Parks and Recreation,” Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8/7c on NBC
Football has certainly helped NBC reach No. 1 in the ratings this season, so the comedy brings back Andrew Luck and several of his NFL friends to help Leslie (Amy Poehler) complete one of her biggest city council goals with an “NFL Play 60” event with the Indianapolis Colts. That’s some slick cross-promotion.
Winning and Singing
“Parenthood,” Thursday, Nov. 21 at 10/9c on NBC
The campaign trail ends on this episode for Kristina (Monica Potter). Will she be the next mayor of Berkeley? Oh, and Amber (Mae Whitman) might sing.
“The Mentalist,” Sunday, Nov. 24 at 10/9c on CBS
Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) takes one step closer to tracking down his serial-killer quarry, when the identity of Red John is finally revealed on the drama’s Nov. 24 episode. Might as well get the office pool on whom it turns out to be going now.
A poem for “HIMYM”
“How I Met Your Mother,” Monday, Nov. 25 at 8/7c on CBS
“How I Met Your Mother” thinks it is time/To put on a show that’s presented in rhyme/The name of the episode, “Bedtime Stories”/The goal of this exercise?/November sweeps glory!/Nov. 25 is the date of this thing/That will play on the air with a rhyme and a ring/Between you and me, if you’re Neil Patrick Harris/You really should hope it won’t leave you embarrass … ed.