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'TV Guide' critic previews sweeps

Applegate
Christina Applegate, right, guest stars on "Friends"' Thanksgiving episode later in the month.

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(CNN) -- "The Bachelor" picks up a bride, lingerie models strut their stuff on the runway, and the cameras go back to the Osbourne house. It can only mean one thing: November sweeps, which they began on Thursday.

To get things started, the clock started ticking again earlier this week with the long-awaited return of Fox's "24."

Matt Roush, senior television critic at "TV Guide," talked to CNN Anchor Paula Zahn about what's in store for this sweeps extravaganza.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: So, let's start off with the sitcoms, some new stuff on "Friends," as well as "Will & Grace."

MATT ROUSH, "TV GUIDE": Yes, well, that's still the big night of comedy is Thursday night for NBC, and "Friends" hits its 200th episode landmark next week. We have the film star, Freddie Prinze, Jr., popular with the teens, guesting as Jennifer Aniston's male nanny. So, we'll see how that goes. Apparently, he's over-sensitive.

And you also have Phoebe choosing between two beaus. All girls should have such problems, I suppose.

ZAHN: It sounds like fun to me.

ROUSH: "Will & Grace" is a landmark as well. Later in the month, they [celebrate] 100 episodes. They [plan] an hour-long episode followed by a clip show. Grace accepts a wedding proposal from Harry Connick, Jr. Will she walk down the aisle? Well, is the show called "Will & Grace & Leo"? I don't think so.

ZAHN: [Does] "Frasier" has something in store for Niles?

ROUSH: Yes. You'll see some very special episodes coming up because Niles has a health scare. We don't want to give too much away, but it does create some angst and some real emotional trauma on the show. The show kind of needs a bit of a bump. It's getting a bit stale, so we want to see whether those episodes remind us of how much we actually care about these characters.

'West Wing' election

ZAHN: Let's move onto the dramas now. I understand "West Wing" is going to have kind of an election night look as we're all in Atlanta, staying up all night trying to figure who has control of the House and Senate.

ROUSH: Exactly. Twenty-four hours after the actual Election Day next Wednesday, you will see President Bartlett go for election. And do we have any doubt of who wins the presidency here? It's kind of a wish fulfillment, because James Brolin is playing a George W. Bush kind of character. So, having President Bartlett regain the White House I think is somewhat like a Hollywood wish fulfillment fantasy.

The Bachelor
"The Bachelor" bride will be selected in time for spring sweeps in February.

ZAHN: On to reality TV. "Victoria's Models" vs.?

ROUSH: Vs. "The Bachelor." "The Bachelor" is going to choose his possible bride in February.

ZAHN: Yes. In fact, February is the other sweeps period. So, you live in those two months.

ROUSH: I live all over the world. But yes, we're going to have "The Bachelor" vs. "Victoria's Secret Models" going down the runway. So, you're going to get one steamy night of television. I think "The Bachelor" is one of the creepiest things I've ever seen. It's like a beauty pageant, where he gets to fondle the contestants. That's the whole point, honestly.

ZAHN: It is odd, isn't it?

Return of 'The Osbournes'

ROUSH: And then "The Osbournes" is coming back the very last week. Right before Thanksgiving, you'll see a new season of "The Osbournes" on MTV. And it's going to be a different show this time, because [Ozzy Osbourne's] wife, Sharon, has been undergoing cancer treatments. Kelly has become some sort of a famous figure in her own right, going out and doing the cover of "Papa Don't Preach." We'll see how the whole world has changed for the Osbournes since their first season of that TV show that really popped so unexpectedly big.

ZAHN: Are the folks who are packaging this stuff afraid it's going to be a bit of a bummer? I mean, watching someone go through chemotherapy, it's torture.

ROUSH: Well, it is absolutely true. But you know, there is no family quite like the Osbournes. I have a feeling they will approach it with the same kind of wacky weirdness that they do everything else in their life, including the pets in the house. I mean, it's just the weirdest household.

ZAHN: Well, this season, are there any great, new, big made-for-TV movies?

'Carrie' remake

ROUSH: Well, just next week on NBC, they're doing a three-hour remake of Stephen King's first book and first movie, which was "Carrie" -- which means another bloody prom night. But a girl called Angela Bettis, an unknown who was on Broadway last season, is Liam Neeson's chief accuser in "The Crucible," she plays the title role now, and she's really quite good, very intense. It's a tricky thing, but we'll see whether it works for television as a remake. I expect NBC to do pretty well next Monday night.

ZAHN: Well, you certainly are in command of what's coming down. I wonder what a smart guy like you, what happens to your brain after you see all of this television.

ROUSH: The good thing about November, there are no repeats until December.

ZAHN: And when there are repeats, you just keep on coming back here to watch our show.

ROUSH: That's right.



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