EW Scopes Out the Ratings Contenders for TV's Most Competitive Sunday Night Ever

Sweeps is notoriously a ratings war zone of guest stars, stunts, and cliff-hangers. But Sunday, May 19, will be the most internecine battle in recent memory, with four networks pitting their mightiest warriors against one another: the Survivor and Practice season finales, a Cosby Show retrospective, and the X-Files series ender. We predict the winner will be regular ratings champ Survivor, but the true loser will be viewers, forced to select just one of these televents. To help you plan your viewing schedule, here’s the Sunday-showdown tale of the tape (or TiVo). — Josh Wolk

Survivor Finale And Reunion Show, 8-11 p.m., CBS

Strengths — Might be a return to the show’s good ol’ days, when bastards won. — Retiring, nothing-to-lose host Rosie O’Donnell could spice up live reunion show by streaking in a Richard Hatch homage. Weaknesses — If past Survivor players attend Central Park live shoot, will be New York’s biggest collection of has-beens since Liza’s wedding. — Would be more compelling if winner were forced to marry The Bachelor.

The X-Files Series Finale 8-10 p.m., Fox

Strengths — For one shining night, your ”Truth is out there” bumper sticker will be relevant again. — Wrapping up of conspiracy is nerd methadone for geeks coming off Star Wars: Episode II cold turkey. Weaknesses — Solving show’s mysteries two years after people stopped caring is like serving meat two days after it’s been in sun. — A year after Evolution’s release, David Duchovny’s reappearance may still cause nightmarish flashbacks.

The Practice Season Finale 9-11 p.m., ABC

Strengths — Since two-hour block is actually two back-to-back one-hour episodes, is kind of like getting twice the entertainment. — Last chance to see Dylan McDermott’s smoldering glare…until a Practice rerun airs on FX the next morning. Weaknesses — Plotwise, ABC will reveal only that a ”shocking murder hits home in the firm.” Yawn. — Start killing off the Dharma & Greg cast — then you’ve got something.

The Cosby Show REtrospective 9-11 p.m., NBC

Strengths — Chronologically aired clips could pinpoint exact moment Lisa Bonet turned bad. — Opportunity to verify if dude who delivered your pizza last week really was guy who played Elvin. Weaknesses — Quick montage of Bill Cosby’s sweaters can cause dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. Consult your physician. — Seeing how old Keshia Knight Pulliam has gotten may give you shuddering sense of your own mortality.

Survivor: Marquesas
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