MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Prime time's version of the proverb "Too many cooks spoil the broth" resulted in NBC's new cooking show, "Chopping Block," falling like a souffle, as its 1.4/4 rating and share in the ad-centric 18-to-49 demographic was even less than the result for "Top Chef," which runs on NBC's cable cousin Bravo. And the season premiere had only 35% of the showing for Fox's "Hell's Kitchen," suggesting that after only one episode, "Chopping Block" might face one.
"Chopping Block," along with every other 8 p.m. show, lost to Fox's "Lie to Me" (3.4/10), which faced its own moment of truth as it flipped time slots with its usual lead-in program, "American Idol" (9.1/23). It lost only 8% from last week (though it was down 23% from its original-episode season average, which spiked after its sizzling start in January), proving it has established itself enough to not only survive but to win unprotected by prime time's most powerful program. That program, "Idol," did just fine with the flip as well, up 17% from last week. But, like "Lie to Me," it was down 7% from its season average.
But both were enough for Fox to win handily with a 6.2/17, well above CBS's 3.1/8, NBC's 1.8/5, ABC's 1.4/4 and the CW's 1.2/3.
CBS's second place was mostly due to counterprogramming reality TV with first-hour sitcoms ("The New Adventures of Old Christine," 2.1/6, and "Gary Unmarried," 2.3/7; each matching its season average) and police procedurals in the next two hours ("Criminal Minds," 3.6/9, and "CSI: NY," 3.5/9).
NBC escaped a worse fate only by relying on last generation's "Law and Order" (just below its average, with a 2.2/6), which was still better than last season's "Life" (1.7/4) and "Chopping Block," which had the dubious distinction of making "Knight Rider" look good, as it was 18% below last week's "Knight Rider" series finale.
The CW's fifth-place finish is deceiving, as "America's Next Top Model" (1.9/6) finished third in prime time's first hour and increased its rating 6% from last week's season premiere. But the network again squandered any momentum by repeating its rerun strategy with 9 p.m.'s "90210" (.4/1), which lost 79% of its lead-in viewers.
ABC's fourth place was partly due to hit "Lost" (1.6/4) being a rerun and delivering only a third of its regular audience. But it was also due to two shows also on the chopping block: already-canceled "Life on Mars" (1.4/4) and soon-to-be-canceled "Scrubs," which delivered a 1.2/4 at 8 p.m. and a 1.2/3 at 8:30 p.m.
WHAT TO WATCH:
Thursday: The long-awaited pairing of two big TV stars is finally here! George Clooney and Julianna Marguiles on NBC's "E.R."? Well, yeah. But what's really got people buzzing is CNBC's Jim Cramer going face to face with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."
Friday: Looking for a reason to finally check out CBS's successful series "Ghost Whisperer"? It's Friday the 13th, so you're allowed.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
An interesting ratings race between today's hot medical drama, ABC's "Private Practice" (which has surged since being paired with its parent program, "Grey's Anatomy") and yesterday's, NBC's "E.R.," which brings back its original stars.
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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.