What Scandal? Charlie Sheen's 'Two and a Half Men' Hits Season High

Rash Report: CBS Sitcoms, 'CSI: Miami' Lead Network To First Place

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Forgive Tiger Woods if he's heard muttering, "What about Charlie Sheen?"

If he's wondering, his frustration may be understandable. Because after Charlie's Christmas arrest in an alleged domestic violence incident, he's faced far less societal scrutiny than Tiger, whose Thanksgiving incident turned his personal and professional life upside-down.

'Two and a Half Men'
'Two and a Half Men' Credit: CBS
It certainly hasn't been a holiday for Tiger since. He has left the PGA tour. And his wife, and most sponsors, have left him. Charlie, conversely, may have lost his endorsement deal with Hanes, but he's back to filming his hit sitcom, "Two and a Half Men." And at least based on Monday night's ratings race, his audience has already forgiven him, as "Men" reached a ratings high in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic with a 5.4/13 rating and share.

While Tiger, and certainly some others, could read it as a double standard, it's really about expectations. Exceptionalism, in all forms, was the marketing mantra defining Tiger, who was positioned not just as a great golfer but a good guy.

Conversely, Charlie's image as a bad boy, on TV and in the tabloids, evidently inoculated him, as his arrest hasn't stopped momentum for his show. Indeed, viewers may have clucked over his alleged deplorable behavior, but still clicked the remote to CBS at 9 p.m. as if nothing happened.

"Men" easily won its timeslot, as did its lead-out, "Big Bang Theory," which hit a series-high 5.7/14. The night started off with the 100th episode of "How I Met Your Mother" hitting a season-high 3.9/10, followed by a 3.1/8 for "Accidentally on Purpose."

After all the laughs, fewer viewers than normal were in the mood for gritty drama, as "CSI: Miami" was off 5% to a 3.7/10. Overall CBS easily won the ratings race with a 4.3/11.

CBS's broadcast brethren also featured some bad boys, either scripted or real. ABC's "The Bachelor" (3.6/9) has a mini-scandal of its own, with allegations of an affair between one of the contestants and one of the show's producers. Like "Two and a Half Men," it not only didn't hurt, but seemed to help, as ABC reports that it was the second highest-rated second episode since 2003. It also may have helped lead-out "Castle," which was up 8% to a 2.6/7. Overall ABC finished in third place with a 3.3/9.

The bad boys of Fox and NBC, conversely, are just plot devices. On Fox, being a medical malcontent is a central thesis for "House," which won the 8-9 p.m. timeslot with a 4.6/12. This led into "Fringe" (2.8/7) as Fox finished second with a 3.7/9.

And as opposed to the crisis management for Tiger and Charlie, the creators of "Chuck" are trying to transition him from the type of guy who would wear a pocket protector to one who would wear a bulletproof vest. So far, so good: "Chuck" (2.6/7) was just three tenths of a ratings point below its highly hyped Sunday night return.

Right after, it wasn't bad guys, but "Heroes," which hit a season-low 2.1/5. That was followed by a guy in a bit of hot water of his own, Jay Leno, whose show delivered a 1.6/4, resulting in NBC finishing fourth with a 2.1/5.

Rash gridsEnlarge
See how all the shows did in the ratings.

Dramas on the CW, for their part, are all about bad boys. Or more accurately, bad girls. But the biggest offense last night was yet another repeat of "One Tree Hill" (.4/1) and "Gossip Girl" (.3/1).

Overall, the fifth place CW (.4/1) was nearly forgotten, which is about the worst fate that can happen in television. That is, unless you're Tiger Woods...

WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: Hello to Ellen DeGeneres, and an early goodbye to Simon Cowell on the season premiere of Fox's "American Idol."
Wednesday:
ABC's "The Middle," "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" have been renewed for next season. Watch the class of the freshman class, "Modern Family," at 9 p.m.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Paula's out! Ellen's in! Simon's in, for now, but will soon be out! Will the "Idol" drama help the reality show's ratings?

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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.

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