MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- Love may not conquer all, but just a few days before Valentine's Day, it made a pretty good stand.
First, on ABC, good ol' Charlie Brown may never get the little red-headed girl, but he got enough ad-centric adults 18-49 to tune in to finish just behind the decidedly unromantic "Human Target" on Fox. Indeed, love must be in the air, as the 2.4/7 rating and share for the Peanuts special was 60% higher than last year ("Human Target" scored a 2.5/7). Right after "Charlie Brown," "The Middle" set a series-high 2.9/8.
Both beat two CBS sitcoms set around the end of love, as Christine and Gary in "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2.3/7) and "Gary Unmarried" (2.4/7) have both been recently divorced. But both are much more stable than the maybe married "Mercy" nurse who still seems to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq (the NBC drama delivered a 1.8/5). And Charlie Brown's romantic quest was three times higher-rated than "Life Unexpected" (0.8/2), a show about the result of one.
At 9 p.m. it may not have been romance, but passion -- for music and music critiques -- as night two of "American Idol's" Ellen-era continued to woo viewers with a 9.5/23, which was 22% higher than last week. ABC was a distant, if still strong second, with two comedies about love evolving in these complicated times: "Modern Family," 4.1/10, and "Cougar Town," 2.7/7.
But it certainly wasn't all passion, and indeed it was crimes of passion in two police procedurals that ran during the hour: CBS's "Criminal Minds" (3.6/9) and NBC's "Law and Order: SVU" rerun (1.2/3). (The CW ran a repeat of "Gossip Girl," which didn't inspire love or hate, but the worst fate for a show: indifference, as it only posted a 0.3/1.)
And at 10 p.m. the darker side of the human soul (or at least remote controls) nearly totally took over, as CBS's "CSI: NY" won the hour with a 3.3/9, and NBC's equally dark "Law and Order: SVU" repeat locked up a second-place 1.8/5.
But both beat lovelorn "Ugly Betty," the once promising program that ABC itself has dumped. It notched a 1.6/5, as ABC delivered an overall third-place 2.6/7. Overall, Fox finished first with a 6.0/16, followed by second-place CBS (3.1/8), ABC, NBC (1.6/4) and the CW (0.5/1).
Thursday: OK, so maybe not as sweet as Charlie Brown. But Valentine's Day-themed episodes of NBC sitcoms "The Office," "30 Rock" and "Parks and Recreation" will probably be more funny.
Friday: Let the Games begin! Opening Ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics, live on NBC.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Will reuniting former "Survivor" contestants lead to a rise in ratings for its 20th season premiere?
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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.