Here's EW.com's guide to sweeps shows and specials

By Sandra P. Angulo
Updated May 02, 2001 at 12:00 PM EDT

3rd Rock From the Sun

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  • Music

April reruns make way for hyped up season finales, and the sweeps schedule is chockful of strategically timed milestones. May sweeps actually begins Thursday, April 26, and in the coming weeks there are weddings (”Once and Again,” ”Friends”), births, (”ER,” ”The X-Files”), and graduations (”Dawson’s Creek,” ”Felicity”) galore, not to mention at least one graceful series demise (”3rd Rock From the Sun”). The festivities kick off with a teasing, headline grabbing gimmick — the celebrity Sapphic smooch between Jennifer Aniston and guest star Winona Ryder on ”Friends.” But Fox’s ”Ally McBeal” has come up with a way to weave Sting’s acting and singing talent into two plotlines: A case involving an out of tune marriage, and a musical surprise for the show’s heroine.

Here’s EW.com’s guide to the best of this week’s sweeps TV.

THURSDAY, April 26

”Friends” (8 p.m., NBC)

Howard Stern, get your VCR fired up NOW! Winona Ryder guest stars as Rachel’s sorority sister in a flashback to the pals’ boozy college days. A drunken frat party leads to a titillating but nonthreatening girl on girl liplock.

”Gilmore Girls” (8 p.m., the WB)

Grandma Emily, feeling guilty that Rory hasn’t grown up with Gilmore riches, redecorates a bedroom in her mansion with a confused mixture of lace curtains and posters of a band she calls ”Backside Boys.”

”Survivor: The Australian Outback” (8 p.m., CBS)

It’s down to the Final Four, and Elisabeth’s hair is starting to fall out due to stress. Could it be because she’s the next to be voted out?

FRIDAY, April 27

”The Lone Gunmen” (9 p.m., Fox)

After the conspiracy loving guys ruin Yves attempts to spy on a Miami smuggler, she decides to become the suspect’s dance partner in a tango competition.

”Popular” (9 p.m., the WB)

Brooke, Sam, Nicole, and Mary Cherry compete in an academic quiz show; Carmen stops cramming for the SATs long enough to hook up with her sexy salsa teacher (”Saved by the Bell” hunk Mario Lopez). Caliente!

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (10 p.m., NBC)

The detectives investigate the case of a Romanian mail order bride (Mili Avital, ”Arabian Nights”), who may be impersonating her dead identical twin to escape her abusive husband.

SATURDAY, April 28

”61*” (9 p.m., HBO)

Billy Crystal directed this telefilm about the homerun race between Bronx Bombers Mickey Mantle (Thomas Jane) and Roger Maris (Barry Pepper). Even nonbaseball fans will like what the slimming blue stripes on those Yanks uniforms can do for a man’s figure.

”Saturday Night Live: Best of Molly Shannon” (11:30 p.m., NBC)

Ninety minutes of Molly Shannon sketches will surely include her unforgettable stints as Mary Catherine Gallagher (”Superstar!”), Monica Lewinsky, and ”The View”’s Meredith Vieira.

SUNDAY, April 29

”The Simpsons” (8 p.m., Fox)

Lisa creates a grammarian robot; Bart and Milhouse play detectives to bust illegal fireworks smugglers; and Marge ”accidentally” chops off Homer’s thumb.

”The Sopranos” (9 p.m., HBO)

It’s Christmas in Sopranoland, and the born again Janice invites the crew to her house for dinner. But why does no one want to don the absent Big Pussy’s old Santa suit?

”Sex and the Swastika” (10 p.m., History Channel)

In this installment of ”History Undercover,” Allied spies blackmail Nazi sex perverts. And we thought UPN’s ”Chains of Love” sounded sleazy!

MONDAY, April 30

”7th Heaven” (8 p.m., the WB)

After Simon’s mom boasts around town that her son hasn’t gone all the way, he endures cruel taunts (”Hey, VIRGIN!”) at school. Thanks, Mom!

”Ally McBeal” (9 p.m., Fox)

Ally turns 30, and she can cry if she wants to. Meanwhile, the firm represents a husband (Paul Reubens) who claims Sting’s midconcert flirtations with his wife (Cheri Oteri) ruined their marriage.

”TV Funhouse” (10 p.m., Comedy Central)

Triumph the insult comic dog guest stars, and the Anipal puppets, disgusted by their kiddie show’s ”Safari Day” theme, escape for a lewd weekend in Atlantic City.

TUESDAY, May 1

”Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (8 p.m., the WB)

The evil Glory’s minions believe Willow’s girlfriend Tara is the Key. And wouldn’t you know it, Tara and Willow have just had their first big fight.

”That ’70s Show” (8-9 p.m., Fox)

The network has scheduled back to back originals, with vintage ’70s commercials airing throughout. First, Fez pretends he’s dating Donna to get an ex off his back. Then, Eric reads Donna’s journal and discovers she wishes he were a dangerous rock star. So he decides to do what every bad boy wannabe does: get a tattoo.

”Dark Angel” (9 p.m., Fox)

Superheroine Max is stunned to meet a strange man in a superhero costume who actually seems to have superhuman powers.

WEDNESDAY, May 2

”Dawson’s Creek” (8 p.m., the WB)

It’s senior prom time for the Capeside crew. A prom fling’s in the works for Jack and his date Tobey (guest star David Monahan), while Dawson, Joey, and Pacey are embroiled in another love triangle. Those three should have no problems in geometry.

”Boot Camp” (9 p.m., Fox)

According to Fox, ”friends become enemies.” Moretty (the week’s squad leader) accuses Jackson of trying to screw up the crew’s mission.

”The West Wing” (9 p.m., NBC)

Episode Recaps

Oliver Platt and Marlee Matlin guest star; the White House is abuzz as ”tax and spend” advocates square off against the ”spend the tax surplus” people. Snappy dialogue of a socially relevant nature ensues.

3rd Rock From the Sun

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