By Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist Published Oct 28, 2009 at 11:00 AM

While November doesn't start until Sunday, TV's version of November starts Thursday night as the four-week sweeps period begins.

In past years, sweeps months were notable for big miniseries and programming stunts, like cast members from one NBC sitcom visiting another.

As network TV deals with dramatic shifts in viewing, the biggest news in this November's sweeps is that a Friday night sci-fi show, "Dollhouse," has been pulled from the lineup until December to prevent its low numbers from hurting Fox's average.

There is one notable crossover event, CBS is linking the three shows in its "CSI" franchise, a three-parter on Nov. 7, 8 and 9, that airs on Channel 58.

The biggest event of the sweeps will likely occur on daytime TV on Nov. 16, when Oprah Winfrey sits down with Sarah Palin as Palin launches her book tour. Winfrey's talk show airs at 4 p.m. weekdays on Channel 12.

Two fall shows will finally have their premieres in November: sassy Wanda Sykes' weekly comedy talk show will go up against "Saturday Night Live" in the 10:35 p.m. slot on Channel 6 starting Nov. 7, and ABC's remake of the 1980s drama "V," about an alien invasion and the resistance movement it spawns.

There's more on "V" at the end of the column, but most important to most viewers is that the next four weeks should be virtually rerun-free. New episodes are almost always scheduled during sweeps.

What exactly "sweeps" during sweeps month?

It's an term dating from the beginning of TV, when ratings weeks would sweep across the country.

While overnight ratings are increasingly sophisticated, more detailed information is gathered through viewer diaries that are sent out during November, February, May and July. The data is crucial in setting local TV advertising rates.

ON TV: Channel 4 has picked Tiffany Ogle to join Molly Fay as co-host of its "Morning Blend." The former Miss Minnesota has done a lot of TV in the Twin Cities. Starting Monday, she replaces Alison De Castro on the 9 a.m. weekday talk show. De Castro had been dividing her time between Milwaukee and Chicago, where her husband owns a business. De Castro decided to concentrate on Chicago.

  • It's not a full-season pickup just yet, but NBC has ordered three more episodes of "Mercy" after a ratings bump.
  • Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert has launched a 99-cent iPhone ap that allows users to download clips from "The Colbert Report" comedy pundit onto their phones.  
  • If you missed Tuesday's airing of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," ABC repeats the animated classic tonight at 7 on Channel 12. Thanks, ABC.

HERE COMES "V": The last major prime-time show of the fall to premiere is ABC's remake of the 1980s sci-fi series "V." The network had been prepared to hype the premiere -- Tuesday at 7 on Channel 12 -- with skywriting campaigns in 26 cities.

Wisely, they dropped the plan, which was beginning to draw criticism for being less than green.

The opening scenes from Tuesday's "V" premiere follow below.

Tim Cuprisin Media Columnist

Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.

A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.

In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at

When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.