No Lie: Fox's 'Moment of Truth' Opens Huge

TVWeek's James Hibberd: Rated

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Moment of Truth (Fox)For the third time this month, the season's highest-rated new series premiere record has been shattered: Fox's provocative lie detector game show opened with a massive Nielsen rating thanks to an "American Idol" lead-in and plenty of viewer curiosity.

"Moment" was seen by 23 million viewers and scored a 10.2 preliminary rating among adults 18 to 49, retaining 94% of its "Idol" audience (10.8). That's higher than previous record-setting freshman debuts this season by NBC's "American Gladiators" (5.9) and Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (7.6).

The "Moment" premiere is the largest retention ever of an "Idol" lead-in, and the highest-rated premiere on any network since last February's "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" (11.2) -- Fox's previous game show to debut in a post-"Idol" slot. Drop off between the first and second half hour of "Moment" was 13%, which is nominal considering the large influx of "Idol" viewers. The "Moment" rating could shift slightly in the nationals later today since there's one minute of "Idol" bleed into the program.

The show was not sent for review to critics, but TV Guide's Matt Roush had an early critique this morning: "Who with a brain or a soul could do anything but despise Fox's new bottom-of-the-reality-barrel time-waster." Viewers posting on the blog were more intrigued, though several said the show's pace needed to speed up.

Once again, an NBC unscripted effort held up best against "Idol." Continuing its "Million Dollar Mission," last night's "Deal or No Deal" hit a 15-month high in this time period (3.7). The "MDM" (where suitcases containing $1,000,000 keep being added to the board until a contestant finally wins the top prize) has played like a sweeps stunt, only placed in January. The play has given a more serialized nature to the show that has boosted tune-in, not unlike Ken Jennings' famed winning streak on "Jeopardy."

NBC also had "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (2.2) and "Law & Order" (3.0).

Other competitors didn't fare nearly as well against Fox's duo.

Third-place CBS's entire lineup hit series lows, including "Power of 10" (0.9), "Criminal Minds" (3.2) and "CSI: NY" (3.3, winning the 10 p.m. hour).

ABC's "Wife Swap" also hit a series low (1.9), followed by "Supernanny" (2.7) and a season low "Cashmere Mafia" (2.0).

The CW aired "Crowned" (0.7) and a "Gossip Girl" repeat (0.5).

UPDATE: Fox's Mike Darnell on "Moment of Truth" ratings and critic reviews. "They thought it was everything from boring, to vile, to boring and vile. But generally speaking, if you have a critically acclaimed reality show, it's not a big hit..." More ...
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