CBS's "Two and a Half Men," for instance, is a straight narrative sitcom, as opposed to single-camera, no-laugh-track sitcoms that often win awards but lose viewers. It was the most-watched show on network TV last night, delivering a 5.1/12 rating and share in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic.
'Dancing' craze continues
The winner in the first hour of prime time came from a relatively new genre -- reality TV -- but reflects the age-old romance of dancing combined with the age-old fear of not being very good at it. ABC has figured out this two-step of new genres and old behavior well, and its "Dancing With the Stars" delivered a 4.1/10, which was 3% above last week's level.
Splitting the timeslot win with "Two and a Half Men" were the men and women with special powers of "Heroes," NBC's new-age way of telling an age-old comic-book story. Last night's chapter delivered a 3.9/9, which is a season low for the slowing franchise.
CBS's "CSI" franchise has also slowed a bit after several years on air. But the 21st-century science combined with the timeless quest for justice was still potent enough to deliver a 3.8/10 and help CBS win the night with an overall 3.9/10. Earlier, CBS sitcoms "The Big Bang Theory" (3.5/9), "How I Met Your Mother" (4.0/10) and "Worst Week" (3.2/7) all performed around season-to-date levels.
ABC was second with a 3.2/8, as "Dancing" led into "Samantha Who?" (2.7/6, down 10% from last week's weak return to the schedule) and "Boston Legal," which matched last week's 2.1/5.
'Enemy' loses viewers
NBC's third-place 3.0/7 was due to "Heroes" being bookended by a 2.6/7 for lead-in "Chuck" and a 2.5/6 for lead-out "My Own Worst Enemy," which fell 17% from its program premiere last week.
Fox finished fourth with a 2.1/5, as "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (2.0/5) led into "Prison Break" (2.2/5).
And the CW's fifth-place finish consisted of "Gossip Girl" (1.4/4) and "One Tree Hill" (1.9/4).
Of course, no genre mixes the old and the new like NFL football, as fans watch the elemental -- and at times, brutal -- sport on high-tech, high-cost plasma and LCD screens. Last night the juxtaposition scored again, as ESPN's "Monday Night Football" game, in which the New England Patriots pasted the Denver Broncos 41-7, notched a 4.4/12, beating all but "Two and a Half Men" (and those guys were probably watching, too).
WHAT TO WATCH:
Tuesday: TCM runs an original documentary on the gangster genre with "Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film."
Wednesday: Take a break from the series of serious crises the world faces for the World Series, which starts on Fox.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
There are no small markets if you get to the big games at the end of a half-year baseball season. But how much will Fox miss "Red Sox nation" when the national ratings for the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies come in?
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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.