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May 2, 2003

Don't Be ashamed to watch it: this is the real Must See TV

The end of the television season is fast approaching, and that means we?re all in for a treat. Listed below are the four most exciting television events of the May sweeps period. None of the three major networks are represented, and none of these shows will be returning in the fall in their present incarnations. Yet, in these four shows you should find everything and anything television has ever had to offer.

Beverly Hills, 90210: 10-Year High School Reunion: If you?re not pissing yourself about this one, you have no soul. At first I thought it was going to be an actual episode, but that was too good to be true. Instead this ?reunion special? will consist of interviews with the cast about how the show changed their lives blah, blah, blah. The reason I?m still psyched is that after being on the show for 10 years, I think these actor no longer had to act. They are their characters, and here?s why you should be excited to see them. Andrea Zuckerman will be biologically 50. Donna Martin will not be in attendance. Kelly Taylor will be running around like the nincompoop she is, deciding for the umpteenth time between an aged Dylan from whom she is divorced, but without closure, and Brandon Walsh who is probably a congressman somewhere, unhappily married to a smart girl. David Silver will, hopefully, be rocking out on the keyboard because his Vanilla Ice phase was definitely the best thing he?s ever done. There will be 10 cast members from when the show was, apparently, the only employer of former soap actors, and you won?t recognize a single one. But all of this is irrelevant in the face of the best stunt casting, or maybe just the best thing, in television history: Brenda?s back. Did you hear me? BRENDA?S BACK, and that, my friends, would make two hours of the worst crap ever assembled worth watching. She is going to sit there, in a room full of people who stabbed her in the back, and pretend it?s water under the bridge, proving yet again that she is a million times cooler than they could ever hope to be. She is going to stir things up. She is going to get Dylan back, and she is going to beat the shit out of sniveling little Kelly. She is going to remind you why, after ten years, several failed relationships, a stint on Charmed, and a feud with another co-star, she is still the best bitch on television.

Sunday, May 11, 8 p.m., Fox

Dawson?s Creek: So you?re right: this is not a television event, this is a mercy kill. If you?ve had the misfortune of watching this show recently, you know nothing has changed in Capeside. Dawson is still being huge-headed; Pacey is still screwing up, right now it?s at being rich; Joey Potter still has that bad habit of talking out of the side of her mouth so it looks like she?s eating her own face; and the recurring characters remain so inhumanly mean and inappropriate that they make you want to throw things at the television. I watched it this week and had no idea what they were talking about because conversations can?t really go anywhere when you speak exclusively in clich├ęs. But, still, I harbor something of a soft spot for this show, if only because its aspirations were once grand and it has now gracelessly degenerated into a horrible version of 90210, where everyone has slept with each other multiple times, but they still make claims to quality and realism. In typical Dawson?s fashion (over articulation at the expense of imagination) they are going to show us how everyone turns out in five years, at which time one of the main characters will ?lose their life.? This is an incredibly cheap trick from a show that used to make fun of itself for deploying cliffhangers. It?s also a misguided one because they?d be hard-pressed to find anyone who actually cares. They?ve also been showing scenes of Pacey and Joey kissing and then, to confuse us, scenes of Dawson and Joey getting married. Not that it matters, because if this show has taught us anything, it?s that either couple will just break up about an hour after they get together. But then, being the hopeful fool I am, I just know that sometime in the future, Dawson and Joey will run into each other on the street and the Paula Cole music will swell, and we will know that this time, unlike the other six times, they are going to be together forever.

Wednesday, May 14, 7 p.m., WB

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Do not role your eyes. I am not going to lecture you about how this is the best show ever and how the fact that you can?t get past the demon and ghouls aspect of it and see its allegorical weight and quality makes you a philistine. Honestly, Buffy?s a great show, but we shouldn?t have to argue that it?s art or high kitsch to feel O.K. about loving it. Just try to comprehend the legitimate possibility that every single member of the cast, excluding one, will be dead after the two-hour series finale. Are there any other shows that would play with your heart in such a way? How, after logging all these television hours with Buffy and the Scooby gang, could the television gods just massacre them in a maudlin, bloody, world-saving battle? The episode is shrouded in secrecy, but here are the things we do know: Buffy will defeat the Big Bad Evil. Whether or not she will survive is less clear, though chances are good she won?t. Who will die? How will they die? Will Willow break out the magic again? Can Xander and Anya stop being so damn annoying? Will Spike and Buffy declare their love? Will Angel get in the way? Will Sarah Michelle Geller get an Emmy nomination? Does she even deserve an Emmy nomination?

Tuesday, May 20, 7 p.m., UPN

American Idol: More people voted in the final round of the last American Idol than in the 2000 presidential election. While this is supposed to be a horrifying indicator of our intense apathy and skewed values, it also just seems like you have some kind of patriotic, political duty to watch the finale, if only to see what ?the rest of America? is up to. Who will win? Looks like Wooooo-bennn, but maybe Clay the Scarecrow. Simon recently gave high praise to the mind-blowingly boring Kimberley Locke, but I think he?s just trying make it seem more competitive than it actually is. Just so long as that horrible, untalented Josh Grayson, who is being supported solely by the Marine vote, is not a finalist, I?ll be content. Here?s what I do know: Fox is going to make it the longest broadcast in primetime history. They may even have one of the finalists commit a crime so that they can have the finale end without a decision, and then, when public outcry reaches an unimaginable frenzy, forgive Clay for sodomy and do the whole thing over again.

Tuesday and Wednesday, May 20 and 21, 7p.m., Fox