A week after pulling ahead of Fox's "Fringe" for the first time in the broadcast battle between TV's top two new shows, the CBS drama slipped 12% from last week, delivering a 3.5/9 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic. That put "The Mentalist" third in the timeslot, behind "Fringe" (4.1/10), which raised its ratings 8% from last Tuesday, as well as ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" (4.0/10), which kicked up 11% from last week and had its best Tuesday since its debut Sept. 23.
"Fringe" combined with "House," which edged up 2% from last week to a 5.6/15, to help Fox finish first with an overall 4.8/12.
CBS, conversely, fell to third for the night, with a 3.2/8, as all three of its police procedurals could report missing viewers: Beside "The Mentalist," "NCIS" fell 12% to a 3.5/9 and "Without a Trace" (2.6/7) was without 7% of last Wednesday's demo delivery.
And despite the extra ratings spring in its step, "Dancing's" partners fell flat, as lead-in "Dancing With the Stars Recap Show" posted a 2.4/6 and "Eli Stone" sank like one, down 11% to finish third at 10 p.m. with a 1.6/4. Overall, ABC finished fourth with a 2.7/7.
"Stone" lost at 10 p.m. to NBC's "Law and Order: SVU" (3.7/10), which rounded up 3% more viewers than last week. Conversely, "SVU" lead-in reality show "The Biggest Loser: Families" (3.2/8) lost 9% of last week's rating as NBC finished second with a 3.4/9.
And continuing the bipolar delivery, the CW's "90210" was up 7% from last week to a 1.5/4 while "Privileged" fell 11% to a 0.8/2 as the net finished fifth with a 1.2/3.
Forget the schizophrenic scheduling that usually makes deciphering demographics difficult. Tuesday's up and down delivery would probably even give the mentalist a headache.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: With rumors swirling that ABC's "Pushing Daisies" may soon be, well, pushing daisies, it's time to catch up on the clever, colorful drama, if just to see the candy coated, almost surreal sets.
Thursday: With layoffs a corporate contagion -- particularly in the financial services and media industries -- it may not be the best time to tune in NBC's "The Office." Then again, maybe it's exactly what's needed. Because if you don't laugh, you'll cry.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Will the "Pushing Daisies" rumors push ratings down?
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NOTE: All ratings based on adults 18-49. A share is a percentage of adults 18-49 who have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all adults 18-49, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. adults 18-49 population with TVs. Ratings quoted in this column are based on live-plus-same-day unless otherwise noted. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of commercial-minute, live-plus-three-days viewing.)
John Rash is senior VP-director of media analysis for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.