'Hell's Kitchen' Finale Hot, Wins Night for Fox

Rash Report: CBS a Close Second as 'NCIS,' The Good Wife' Win Timeslots

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MINNEAPOLIS (AdAge.com) -- America's schizophrenic, binge-purge approach to its weight problem has multiple cultural manifestations, and one was clear during this Tuesday's TV ratings race, in which two-hour versions of NBC's weight-loss reality show "The Biggest Loser" ran up against cooking competition "Hell's Kitchen" on Fox.

'Hell's Kitchen'
'Hell's Kitchen' Credit: Fox
At least for this week, ad-centric adult 18-49 viewers had more of an appetite for "Hell's Kitchen," which served up a 3.8/10 rating and share for its season finale. This was a 19% rise from last season's capper, and helped Fox beat CBS by two-tenths of a ratings point for first place overall.

"Biggest Loser" (3.5/9), conversely, slimmed down two-tenths of a ratings point from last week, but was enough to keep NBC (3.0/8 overall) out of fourth place, despite "The Jay Leno Show" (1.8/5) finishing last in its timeslot at 10 p.m.

Of course, this being network TV, there still were skinny stars to be found, including on fifth-place CW ("90210," 1.1/3; "Melrose Place," .7/2) as well as CBS, which lost for the first time on Tuesday this season as "NCIS" (4.5/13), "NCIS: Los Angeles" (3.5/9) and "The Good Wife" (2.8/8) each were within two-tenths of a ratings point from last week's levels to average a 3.6/10.

And ABC's third-place 2.2/6 was highlighted by the athletic dancers (and oh yeah, some celebs, too) on "Dancing with the Stars" (2.9/7), which had its best Tuesday night this season. ("Shark Tank," 1.6/5 and "The Forgotten," 2.1/6, were up a tenth and two-tenths of a ratings point, too).

As for "Hell's Kitchen," just like other competitions, including Fox's "American Idol," CBS's "Survivor" and ABC's "Dancing with the Stars," it's just the latest dog-days series to make it onto the fall schedule. With its latest season over, next week it will be replaced by a more-traditional transition between the seasons, as the boys of summer try to make the Fall Classic when the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels play for the right to represent the American League in the World Series.

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

WHAT TO WATCH:
Wednesday: OK, so you've sampled ABC's "Cougar Town" and sated your Courtney Cox curiosity about her post-"Friends" return to network TV. Now turn back to the best show in the time period, Fox's "Glee," which although uneven can make viewers giddy when it connects.
Thursday: The silly sitcom with a bit of genius behind it, "30 Rock," has its season debut on NBC, right after "The Office."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Three of the four new sitcoms on ABC's Wednesday night schedule -- "The Middle," "Modern Family" and "Cougar Town" -- have full-season orders. The fourth, "Hank," however, is lagging commercially and creatively and faces another tough test tonight.

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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's Compass Media, Minneapolis. For more, see rashreport.com.

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