TV's May "sweeps" period began last week and concludes May 26, and it's a big one, with the series finales of "Lost" and "24"; the season finales of "American Idol," "The Biggest Loser" and "Dancing With the Stars"; the usual slew of scripted-show season finales; and even a couple of shows starting their seasons.
In an attempt to sort it out, here's a calendar, with occasional but not exhaustive annotation about stunts, guest stars and finales. Unless otherwise noted, shows will be due back next season, but we have mentioned where some are in trouble.
"Family Guy": In the animated hit's 150th episode, psychotic baby Stewie and martini-swilling dog Brian get locked in a bank vault — without baby food or alcohol. As part of the "Fox Rocks" stunt, the episode will be followed by a series of Family Guy musical numbers, some of them previously unreleased. 8 p.m. on Fox.
"Cold Case": The seventh-season finale will feature Rolling Stones songs, including "So Divine (Aladdin Story)," a previously unreleased track that will be one of 10 previously unreleased songs included in a May 18 reissue of the classic "Exile on Main Street." At press time, this show's future was questionable, so this could be a series finale as well. 8 p.m. on CBS.
"House": During a raucous boys' night out, House (Hugh Laurie), Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Foreman (Omar Epps) visit a karaoke bar and perform a Gladys Knight & the Pips classic. 7 p.m. on Fox.
"Glee": Olivia Newton-John appears in an episode that reveals another Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) video — which doesn't go over as well as her Vogue video. 8 p.m. on Fox.
"Law & Order: Special Victims Unit": Sharon Stone continues an arc (which began this week) as assistant district attorney Jo Marlowe. 9 p.m. on NBC (season finale May 19).
Also: "Fly Girls" one-hour season finale, 8 p.m. on the CW.
"Bones": Author Kathy Reichs, the creator of and inspiration for Emily Deschanel's Dr. Temperance Brennan, wrote this episode about a forensic-anthropology witch hunt — involving two corpses, one dating back to the Salem witch trials. 7 p.m. on Fox.
"30 Rock": In a Mother's Day-themed episode, Anita Gillette appears as Liz's (Tina Fey) mom, and Elaine Stritch returns in her Emmy-winning role as Jack's (Alec Baldwin) mother. And Buzz Aldrin guest-stars. 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
"Friday Night Lights": DirecTV viewers already had the chance to see this fourth season of one of TV's best dramas; it finally makes its NBC debut with coach Eric Taylor and wife Tami (Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton) now working at rival high schools. 7 p.m. on NBC.
"Smallville": Annette O'Toole returns as Martha Kent, Clark's mom — and she's dating Perry White (Michael McKean). 7 p.m. on the CW.
"Saturday Night Live": Twitter users started a campaign to "SNL" to have Betty White as a guest host, and she does the gig on this night. But after this weak season, you have to wonder if it's part of a plot against Betty White. 10:30 p.m. on NBC.
"America's Funniest Home Videos": The long-running series airs a two-part finale (concluding May 16) that counts down "20 videos that changed the world," or at least got major attention during "AFHV's" 20 seasons. The winning entrant gets a cruise for four to anywhere that Disney Cruise Line sails. 6 p.m. on ABC.
"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition": Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert and Sarah McLachlan appear in a Mother's Day episode in which the "Home Edition" crew helps a Tulsa couple whose 9-year-old son has a rare disease. 7 p.m. on ABC (season finale May 16).
"The Amazing Race": The 16th season ends with a sprint from Shanghai to San Francisco, and as usual, the show does it with a modest one-hour finale rather than one of those bloated two-hour ones. 7 p.m. on CBS.
"Trauma": Canceled in the fall by NBC, then revived, this medical drama still hasn't had much of a pulse in the ratings despite a cult following. So this first-season finale could be a series finale as well. 8 p.m. on NBC.
"The Biggest Loser": Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo guest-stars, and if anyone knows about being the big — nah, it's just too easy and mean. 7 p.m. on NBC.
"Mercy": "The Sopranos' " Aida Turturro appears in the first-season finale as a psychic medical patient. Maybe she can foresee whether this ratings-challenged medical drama will be renewed; its fate was still unknown at press time. 7 p.m. on NBC.
"The New Adventures of Old Christine": Christine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) makes a "surprising decision" in the season finale, but at press time CBS was still undecided about whether this comedy would be around for another season. 7 p.m. on CBS.
Also: "America's Next Top Model" two-hour finale, 7 p.m. on the CW.
"The Vampire Diaries": Without going into it too much, let's just say that the synopsis for the first-season finale promises "chaos, destruction and death." 7 p.m. on the CW.
"Parks and Recreation": Rob Lowe and "Party Down's" Adam Scott guest-star as two state auditors who prove to be obstacles for Leslie (Amy Poehler) and her plans for a new park. 7:30 p.m. on NBC.
"Fringe": Reports are that Leonard Nimoy plans to retire from acting, but please don't let him do it before he ends his "Fringe" run as the eerie William Bell, who has his long-awaited showdown with Walter (John Noble) in this two-part season finale. 8 p.m. on Fox (concludes 8 p.m. May 20).
"Supernatural:" The Apocalypse" is at hand in the fifth-season finale, and a "beloved character" will die, which makes you wonder what they'll do for an encore in the sixth season. 8 p.m. on the CW.
Also: "Private Practice" season finale, 9 p.m. on ABC.
"Smallville" finale, 7 p.m. on the CW.
"Cops": This is the only Saturday during sweeps period that "Cops" isn't pre-empted by sports, and it continues its visits to Amarillo and Houston. 7 and 7:30 p.m. on Fox.
"America's Most Wanted": John Walsh heads to Chicago for the "Windy City Fights Back" special edition, to report on how the city and its residents are fighting a growing crime problem. 8 p.m. on Fox.
"2010 Miss USA Pageant" and " The Celebrity Apprentice" : It's an all-Donald Trump night on NBC as the 59th annual "Miss USA Pageant" gets the first two hours, and the first part of "The Celebrity Apprentice" two-part finale gets the second two, with "Apprentice" alumni Joan Rivers and Bill Rancic making a visit. 6-10 p.m. on NBC.
"Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains": The winner is named, and as usual, "Survivor" does it with a bloated two-hour finale and a one-hour reunion show. 7-10 p.m. on CBS.
"Desperate Housewives" and " Brothers & Sisters": ABC's Sunday hits air their season finales a week before sweeps ends, to make room for the following week's "Lost" extravaganza. 8-10 p.m. on ABC.
Also: "American Dad" season finale, 8:30 p.m. on Fox.
"Chuck": Scott Bakula returns as Chuck's (Zachary Levi) father for this episode and for May 24's two-hour season finale. At press time, NBC had yet to announce whether "Chuck" had been renewed for a fourth season; although it's one of the network's best shows, it barely was renewed for this season and has continued to struggle in the ratings. 7 p.m. on NBC (two-hour finale 7 p.m. May 24).
"One Tree Hill": Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) spends the month struggling to get over her mother's death, culminating in this road-trip finale in which the gang heads to Utah to catch the premiere of Julian's (Austin Nichols) film. The CW had yet to renew this long-running drama at press time, but ratings-watchers believe it has enough fan support to come back next season. 7 p.m. on the CW.
"Gossip Girl": Michelle Trachtenberg takes a break from NBC's "Mercy," where she plays the sweet Chloe, to return as "GG's" not-so-sweet Georgina in the season finale. 8 p.m. on the CW.
Also: "House" season finale, 7 p.m. on Fox; "Castle" season finale, 9 p.m. on ABC.
"90210": Ryan O'Neal does a monthlong arc as Spence, father of Teddy (Trevor Donovan). And as you might expect from "90210," Spence is not a 100 percent nice guy, which leads to a confrontation in this season finale. 7 p.m. on the CW.
"Glee": Neil Patrick Harris appears as Will's (Matthew Morrison) old high school nemesis — who's still a nemesis, of course. 8 p.m. on Fox.
"V": The updated version of the alien-invasion saga came back in March after a long hiatus, but whatever buzz it had was gone, as NBC's "Parenthood" and CBS's "The Good Wife" proved to be stronger draws in this time slot. "V's" future is still to be determined, but this season finale could also be a series finale. 9 p.m. on ABC.
"The Good Guys": "The West Wing's" Bradley Whitford, sporting a '70s cop-show mustache, and Colin Hanks play mismatched cops whose petty-crime cases have a way of turning major in this comedy-drama. This is a "special preview" before the show begins its regular run in June. 7 p.m. on Fox.
Also: Season finales of "The Middle," "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town," 7:30-9 p.m. on ABC.
"Bones": ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons returns as Angela's (Michaela Conlin) mysterious father. 7 p.m. on Fox.
"30 Rock": Liz (Tina Fey) juggles three weddings, including ex-boyfriend Floyd's (Jason Sudeikis). Meanwhile, Jack (Alec Baldwin) makes a decision about Nancy and Avery (Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks) 8:30 p.m. on NBC.
Also: Season finales of "Community," "Parks and Recreation" and "The Office," 7-8:30 p.m. on NBC; "Grey's Anatomy" two-hour season finale, 8 p.m. on ABC; season finales of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "The Mentalist," 8-10 p.m. on CBS.
"Medium": Allison's (Patricia Arquette) brain tumor resurfaces in the season finale, which could have an effect on her family's future. This show's future also looks a little cloudy, although with "Miami Medical" underperforming and "Numb3rs" gone, CBS might not want to mess with Fridays too much. 8 p.m. on CBS.
Also: "Ghost Whisperer" season finale, 7 p.m. on CBS; "Kitchen Nightmares" season finale, 8 p.m. on Fox; "Miami Medical" season (and possibly series) finale, 9 p.m. on CBS.
"Lost": ABC has been pretty cavalier with the finales of some long-running shows, but not this one: It gets a special Sunday-night shindig, with a two-hour recap special followed by a two-hour finale. (A special "Lost" edition of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" airs at 10:35 p.m.). 6-10 p.m. on ABC.
"The Simpsons": As if they won't get enough exposure during "American Idol's" finale week, "Idol" host Ryan Seacrest and judges Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, Ellen DeGeneres and Randy Jackson do guest-voice work in "The Simpsons' " 21st-season finale, in which Moe is invited to appear on "Idol" as a guest judge. 7 p.m. on Fox.
"The Cleveland Show": Earth, Wind and Fire does a musical number in the first-season finale of this "Family Guy" spin-off. 7:30 p.m. on Fox.
"Family Guy": The farce is with "Family Guy" as it re-revisits the "Star Wars" saga in "Something, Something, Something Dark Side, Parts 1 and 2," an hourlong spoof of "The Empire Strikes Back." 8 p.m. on Fox.
"24": "ER's" Eriq LaSalle guest-stars in a two-hour series finale that, appropriately enough, airs on the 24th, with Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) "forced to take matters into his own hands," which he's been doing for eight seasons now. 8 p.m. on Fox.
"The Bachelorette": Ali Fedotowsky, who chose work over love on "The Bachelor," must have decided that job safety is overrated, as she's the latest person to seek a mate on national television. 8 p.m. on ABC (two-hour season premiere).
"Two and a Half Men": This show has been around long enough that "half man" Jake (Angus T. Jones) now has a driver's license. Which is good, because Charlie's (Charlie Sheen) has been suspended. Stacy Keach and John Amos, who have been among the best things in a weak season, return in the season finale. 8 p.m. on CBS.
"The Big Bang Theory": "Blossom's" Mayim Bialik guest-stars as an online-dating match for Sheldon (Jim Parsons). We're hoping she's a female Sheldon. 8:30 p.m. on CBS.
"Law & Order": Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn appears in the 20th-season finale. 9 p.m. on NBC.
Also: Season finales of "How I Met Your Mother," 7 p.m.; "Rules of Engagement," 7:30 p.m.; and "CSI: Miami," 9 p.m., all CBS.
"American Idol": Prediction: Lee DeWyze's trip down the middle of the road takes him to the season finale, where he hits a big roadblock in the sublime Crystal Bowersox, who will score the win. 7 p.m. on May 25 and 26, Fox.
"The Biggest Loser": Not afraid of "Idol," "Loser" airs its live two-hour finale/reunion show. 7 p.m. on NBC.
"Dancing With the Stars": Yet another two-hour finale, but this one starts later. 8 p.m. on ABC.
Also: Season finales of "NCIS," "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife," 7-10 p.m. on CBS; and "Parenthood," 9 p.m. on NBC.
Season finales of " Criminal Minds" and " CSI: NY," 8-10 p.m. on CBS.