'American Gladiators' Shows Ratings Muscle

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

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NBC's revamp of the campy competition classic "American Gladiators" scored the highest new series premiere rating of the season.

"Gladiators" earned a 5.9 preliminary rating among adults 18 to 49 and was seen by 12 million viewers. The demo rating gives "Gladiators" the best score for an NBC debut since "Heroes." Previously, the highest premiere tally this season was held by "Bionic Woman" (5.7), NBC's other action-filled primetime remake.

The two-hour premiere came in second during the 9 p.m. hour behind an original episode of "Desperate Housewives" (7.2), but it handily won the 10 p.m. hour. What's more, "Gladiators'" final half-hour was its highest-rated, with a 6.1, which bodes well for the true test of the show's strength when the show airs tonight in its regular time period.

MSNBC called the program "an awkward start," but still "a thrilling television event." BuddyTV said it's "cheesy fun." The Onion wrote, "After two grueling hours, I want my brain cells back."

A two-hour "Deal or No Deal" (3.0) led into the program.

Despite "Gladiators'" showing, NBC's 4.4 overall put it in second place in the preliminary ratings, with ABC and CBS tied for first with a 4.5 (CBS also won among total viewers). ABC had "America's Funniest Home Videos" (2.4), "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (4.7) and "Housewives" (7.2), all roughly on par. At 10 p.m., a preview of "Cashmere Mafia" earned a 3.8, down about 19% from the "Brothers & Sisters" average in the time period.

CBS was boosted by some sports overrun, which bled into "60 Minutes" (4.9). Then the network aired "The Amazing Race" (3.4) and "Cold Case" (2.5).

In third place, Fox aired "The Simpsons" (3.9), "King of the Hill" (3.3), an encore "Family Guy" (2.9) and "American Dad" (2.4). The CW aired repeats.

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