'Underbelly' Premiere Hits Ratings Midsection

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

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With the second-season premiere of ABC's "Notes From the Underbelly," a rare programming alignment has occurred: Sitcoms now air on three broadcast networks (ABC, CBS and The CW) for an entire hour—the same hour—each week. It's apropos of nothing, save the usual statement about the scarcity of half-hour comedies. And, as a tribute to the dominance of CBS' Monday block, its "Rules of Engagement" repeat whipped the other two sitcoms in the 9:30 p.m. slot.

With Fox airing repeats of "House" (2.9) and "Bones" (2.1), there was plenty of good news to go around last night for three of its competitors. Even the night's winner among adults 18 to 49 in the preliminary Nielsens was a tie, with CBS and ABC locked for the top spot (and ABC winning among total viewers).

ABC's hourlong "Dancing With the Stars" was the highest-rated show with a season-high 6.2. With a shorter "Dancing" this week, "Samantha Who?" took a hit (4.1) going head-to-head against CBS' "Two and a Half Men" (a season-high 5.0) for the first time.

The "Underbelly" premiere finished third for its time period. It was lower than its April debut, but it also was the highest-rated episode since then (2.9). At 10 p.m., ABC's time-period premiere of "October Road" (2.3) came in last for the hour.

In addition to "Two and a Half Men," CBS' comedy block included an on-par "How I Met Your Mother" (3.3), a "Big Bang Theory" repeat (2.8) and a "Rules" repeat (3.8). "CSI: Miami" (4.6) won the 10 p.m. hour.

NBC's drama lineup perked up, with "Chuck" posting its strongest performance since its debut (3.3). "Heroes" (5.3, winning its hour) enjoyed its best rating in more than a month. "Journeyman" seemed to sense its being left off NBC's list of full-season pickups and also posted gains, up 14% (2.5).

On The CW, the comedy lineup was average, but the once-promising "Aliens in America" (0.7) continues to struggle in the block.