ABC Triumph: 'Private Practice' Overthrows 'Bionic Woman'

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

By Published on .

After a recent series of caveated ratings victories, ABC enjoyed a pure triumph last night when critically adored new drama "Pushing Daisies" got off to a rousing start and the second episode of "Private Practice" overthrew NBC's plummeting "Bionic Woman."

The lyrical "Daisies," long considered the best pilot of the fall season, opened to a 4.2 rating among adults 18 to 49 in the preliminary ratings, crushing competitors in its 8 p.m. slot.

In the battleground 9 p.m. hour, where ABC came in second place last week amid heavy competition, "Private" maintained 88 percent of its premiere rating to post a 4.5 and win the slot. At 10 p.m., "Dirty Sexy Money" came in second place, but pulled off the rare trick of holding 100 percent of its premiere's 3.6, despite having a slightly lower lead-in this week.

CBS was second for the night, with "Kid Nation" dropping for the third week in a row to come in last among the major networks with a 2.4 rating. But CBS's "Criminal Minds" and "CSI: NY" both improved this round, to a 3.7 and 3.9, respectively. Even though it was the third highest-rated show of the night, "Minds" was the No. 1 show in total viewers.

In third place, NBC has a grim morning. "Deal or No Deal" was up a bit to a 2.8. But "Bionic" fell 30 percent during its second episode to a 4.0. "Life" dropped 25 percent to a 3.0.

Moreover, this morning the industry is buzzing that the pivotal second "Bionic" episode, the result of extensive behind-the-scenes retooling, was a creative disaster—cliché-packed dialogue, a nonsensical villain, one-note characters. The much-heralded arrival of Isaiah Washington (who in a New York Post story Wednesday proved yet again you don't need bionics to be a tool) was a non-event; just another performer trying to inject humanity into a clunky show whose most arresting visual is Miguel Ferrer's neck jowls.

Fox had relatively positive news. "Back to You" was down 14 percent to a 2.4, "Til Death" was up 4 percent to a 2.5. But their underrated reality show "Kitchen Nightmares" benefited most from the "Bionic" drop, leaping 16 percent in its third week to a 2.9.

The CW's "America's Next Top Model" dropped slightly to a 2.2, while "Gossip Girl" climbed a notch to a 1.3.

Interesting "Gossip" factoid: Though the show has been a ratings struggle, the pilot has regularly topped the Top 10 most-downloaded shows on iTunes this past week. Sure, the download is free, but so is watching The CW.
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