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FEWER DISASTERS IN THE AIR DURING SWEEPS PERIOD

It's another sweeps period, which means it is time for another disaster miniseries, "Category 6: Day of Destruction," on CBS Nov. 14 and 17.

It's funny how often these super-serious disasters show up during sweeps, the time that networks normally trot out high-profile events to impress advertisers.

But other than that disaster, this isn't an impressive sweeps month. There is the usual assortment of high-profile guest stars, music specials near holiday time and blockbuster feature films airing on network television for the first time.

However, there aren't many big events. It is almost like the networks have quietly decided that the day of destruction of the sweeps is here. Part of the destruction was unavoidable, the victim of how networks now construct their schedules.

During the glory days of sweeps, networks tried to avoid premiering new series opposite big events when they wouldn't have a chance. Now Fox is using the November sweeps to launch most of its series, including "The OC," "Arrested Development" and its entire Sunday lineup. And all the networks are premiering new reality series.

It wasn't that long ago that ABC, CBS and NBC all ran movies on Sunday night, which was an ideal time for a big sweeps film. That day has ended. CBS is the only network with a regular Sunday movie. NBC and ABC have had success with regular series on Sundays. ABC's success has doubled this season with the new megahit, "Desperate Housewives," and it is no longer desperate for a sweeps movie to fill the time slot.

For years, prominent network executives, including CBS' Les Moonves, have been decrying the wasteful network practice of running expensive sweeps events opposite each other. It almost seems like the networks have an undeclared cease fire this November.

It used to be hard to limit the list of top sweeps events to 30. This November, it is easy to list a Top 15, especially after ruling ineligible all reality show premieres and feature film network premieres.

1. "Dallas Reunion: The Return to Southfork" 9 p.m. Friday, WIVB: Larry Hagman, Victoria Principal, Patrick Duffy, Charlene Tilton, Ken Kerchival, Steve Kanaly and Mary Crosby reminisce about the days when people actually watched TV on Friday night.

2. 38th Annual Country Music Awards, 8 p.m. Nov. 9, WIVB: Brooks & Dunn host.

3. "The West Wing," 9 p.m. Nov. 10, WGRZ. Jimmy Smits joins the cast, playing a Democratic candidate for president.

4. "Category 6: Day of Destruction," 9 p.m. Nov. 14 and 17, WIVB. Nancy McKeon, Thomas Gibson, Brian Dennehy and Randy Quaid star in the month's only miniseries, about three weather systems that collide over Chicago and create a superstorm.

5. "The 32nd Annual American Music Awards," 8 p.m., Nov. 14, WKBW: The "Desperate Housewives" get a night off, unless ABC tries to find a way to make them presenters.

6. "Everybody Loves Raymond," the 200th episode, Nov. 15, WIVB: Ray (Ray Romano) and Frank (Peter Boyle) are pressured by the ladies to accompany Robert (Brad Garrett) to one of his therapy sessions. This family would need 200 sessions to make a dent.

7. "House," 9 p.m. Nov. 16, WUTV: Hugh Laurie, without his British accent, stars in a drama about a brilliant, acerbic doctor that is Fox's best new show of the month. Of course, the rest of them are reality shows.

8. "Back When We Were Grownups," 9 p.m. Nov. 21, WIVB: Blythe Danner, Faye Dunaway, Peter Fonda, Jack Palance and University at Buffalo graduate Peter Riegert star in a Hallmark Hall of Fame story about a widow who calls her ex-boyfriend to see if sparks re-ignite.

9. "Everwood," 9 p.m. Nov. 22, WNYO: Ephram (Gregory Smith) and Amy (Emily Van Camp) decide it's time. It's sweeps, and they're teenagers in love, so you should know what time it is. Time to watch with your younger kids.

10. "Samantha: An American Girl Holiday," 8 p.m. Nov. 23 and 25, WNYO: WB's first original made-for-television. It is about an orphan raised by her wealthy grandmother (played by Mia Farrow) in 1904.

11. "The 'Seinfeld' Story," 10 p.m. Nov. 25, WGRZ: A retrospective with the original cast, commemorating the DVD release of the series two days earlier. And advertising it. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

12. "A Christmas Carol: The Musical," 9 p.m. Nov. 28, WGRZ: Jesse Martin, the "Law & Order" star from Buffalo who was in the original cast of "Rent," is the ghost of Christmas Present in this original production starring Jason Alexander as Jacob Marley. The CBS Christmas movie starring Peter Falk, "When Angels Come to Town," that airs opposite it doesn't have a ghost of a chance.

13. "NYPD Blue," 10 p.m., Nov. 30, WKBW: Jones (Henry Simmons) and Medavoy (Gordon Clapp) face some serious problems that make you wonder if they'll make it to the retirement party of this still compelling show.

14. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," 8 p.m. Dec. 1, WIVB: The 40th anniversary of the classic, narrated by Burl Ives.

15. "Nick & Jessica's Family Christmas" 9:01 p.m. Dec. 1, WKBW: And you thought the newlyweds' 40 minutes of of fame was almost over. This family concert is supposed to include a visit from Jessica's lip-synching sister, Ashlee Simpson, and a reunion of Nick's old group, 98 Degrees, that includes his brother, Drew Lachey. Just think, all that talent in one family.

e-mail: apergament@buffnews.com

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