How desperate will the women of “Desperate Housewives” get on the series finale? Will Mainer Patrick Dempsey be back for another season of “Grey’s Anatomy” next year?

And who — some 16 million Americans want to know — will be the next “American Idol”?

These and other important questions will likely be answered this month as the networks roll out their schedule of dramatic and much-hyped season finales. In some cases, like with “Desperate Housewives” on ABC and “House” on Fox, the series themselves are ending.

This month of finales is known in the TV biz as part of “May sweeps.” During May, ratings are compiled by the Nielsen media research company from markets and households all around the country. Ratings are compiled daily in some larger TV markets, but the “sweeps” periods are when people in every corner of the country are surveyed, and that only happens four times a year.

The May “sweeps” are vitally important to the TV industry, because the higher the rating a show has at the end of the season, the more it can get for advertising next fall. So TV producers do everything they can to make their May finales as eye-catching as possible.

Besides all the finales planned this month, you might want to check out the shows of a couple Mainers who make their living on TV these days.

Greg Finley of Scarborough has starred on ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” for five years, while Readfield native Tim Simons stars on the new HBO comedy “VEEP,” which began airing in April. To read more about Finley and Simons, see stories on them accompanying this article.

Below is a quick preview of the two major network series finales, as well as the finales of the top 10 rated network shows. Top-rated shows will have the number of estimated viewers during the last week of April in parentheses.

 

• “Desperate Housewives,” ABC — 9 p.m. May 13: There’s been a lot to digest in this eighth and final season of ABC’s hit comic/dramatic soap opera — Carlos murdering Gaby’s stepfather, Lynette and Tom splitting up, and the recent murder of Chuck Vance, which could be the work of one of the housewives.

The series finale is expanded to two hours, but even that may not be enough time to wrap all this up. Star Eva Longoria (Gaby) seems confident though, having been quoted recently that the finale is “that satisfying ending you want in a show that’s been running eight years.”

 • “House,” Fox — 8 p.m. May 21: It’s good the show lasted into this season, because just last month, Maine actor Greg Finley (see accompanying story) got to do a guest shot on the hit show as a hockey player with a rare blood disease.

The finale starts with a one-hour retrospective that looks back at eight seasons of Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) solving unsolvable medical mysteries in his obnoxious-yet-vulnerable way, including interviews with the show’s actors and writers. Then in the final episode, House works on one final case, that of a drug addict, which forces him to examine his own life and future.

 • “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC — 9 p.m. May 22 (17.62 million viewers): Apparently, Americans would rather watch famous people dance than anything else, as this show finished the last week of April as the top-rated show in the land. And the dancers don’t have to be THAT famous. Former “Little House on the Prairie” star Melissa Gilbert is cutting quite a rug this season, by the way.

 • “American Idol,” Fox — 8 p.m. May 23 (16.87 million viewers): This talent show is consistently among the highest-rated programs on TV. It has been on since 2002, tapping into the tried and true genre of singing contests and our love of rags-to-riches stories. Carrie Underwood was just a girl from Oklahoma, and Kelly Clarkson was waiting tables before they both went on “Idol” and became stars. Who will be next?

• “Person of Interest,” CBS — 9 p.m. May 17 (12.73 million viewers): In just its first season, this show about a weird crime-stopping pairing — a former CIA agent and a billionaire — is a bona fide hit. In the finale, Reese (Jim Caviezel) is trapped with his POI and is trying to fend off corrupt cops and old enemies.

 • “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS — 8 p.m. Thursday (12.65 million viewers): The smart geeks in this comedy just keep on rolling up big viewer numbers in their fifth season. In the season finale, Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) makes the final preparations for his space launch.

 • “NCIS,” CBS — 8 p.m. May 15 (12.41 million viewers): CBS has become a ratings hog thanks to a big slate of “just the facts, ma’am” investigative shows, including the “NCIS” franchise. In the season’s final episode, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team face a terrorism threat that CBS publicists say “will devastate them.”

 • “The Mentalist,” CBS — 10 p.m. May 17 (12.03 million viewers): Now in its fourth season, this series follow a well-known psychic working with law enforcement to find the killer of his wife and daughter. On the season finale, Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) finds a lover and then shoots someone. But who?

• “Blue Bloods,” CBS — 10 p.m. Friday (10.47 million): Seems like terrorism is big on finales this year (See “NCIS” above). In this drama about a police family, Frank (Tom Selleck) “races against the clock” to stop a terrorist attack, but he doesn’t know where it’s supposed to take place!

• “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC — 9 p.m. May 17 (9.45 million viewers): Maine’s own Patrick Dempsey became an A-list star on this show as a hunky doctor. In the season finale, the doctors face a crisis in which they are risking their own lives to save some of their co-workers.

Creator Shonda Rhimes has been quoted as saying there will be a “big death” on the finale. And there’s speculation it could be Dempsey’s character, as his contract with the show is ending. Tune in to find out.

• “Once Upon a Time,” ABC — 8 p.m. May 13 (9.2 million viewers): Another first-season hit, this supernatural series stars Jennifer Morrison (formerly of “House”) as a woman discovering a New England town is full of fairy-tale characters come to life. In a fairy tale, you don’t want to give away the ending, so all ABC has released about the season finale is the title: “A Land Without Magic.”

• “CSI: NY,” CBS — 9 p.m. Friday (9.13 million viewers): This installment of the successful “CSI” (“crime scene investigation”) franchise is another of CBS’ stable of procedural crime dramas. In the season finale, Mac (Gary Sinise) is shot! But by whom?

 

 

 

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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Twitter: Ray Routhier