Well, sort of. Maybe it didn't have the fanfare of the fall premieres, and each network is still showing reruns due to the recently settled writers' strike. But Monday's reappearance of reality and scripted series on CBS and ABC -- combined with Fox's ongoing new series "New Amsterdam" and "Canterbury's Law" -- made it seem like old times in network TV.
CBS shows on rise
CBS's "Two and a Half Men" and "How I Met Your Mother" were first-run for the first time in weeks, and both made the Top Ten in the ad-centric adult 18-49 demographic, delivering a fourth-place 5.0/13 and ninth-place 3.8/10 rating and share, respectively -- a more-than-respectable 16% and 36% jump from their September debuts.
Sitcom siblings "The New Adventures of Old Christine" and "The Big Bang Theory" also had good nights. "Old Christine" had been running the only new episodes and made it to No. 6 with a 4.1/10. "Big Bang" didn't have a big jump, but still performed well enough to finish 12th with a 3.3/10.
Countering comedies on CBS, ABC kicked off the new season of "Dancing With the Stars" and "The Bachelor," which both delivered demos right about even with their fall premieres. At 5.1/14, "Dancing" finished third for the week, while "The Bachelor: London Calling" charmed its way to a 15th-place tie with a 3.0/8.
Missing the mark
Despite the successful return of "Dancing," however, ABC missed with "Miss Guided," which was partnered with Tuesday's "Dancing" results show (tied for ninth with a 3.8/10). In the hopes it could have the same results as "Samantha Who?" ABC used the comedy cocoon post-"Dancing" to perform well last fall. Only the strategy for "Miss Guided" was, well, misguided, as unlike "Samantha" it ran at 10:30 p.m., instead of 9:30, and delivered only a 2.6/8, compared to "Samantha's" 4.3/10.
But ABC had a good week overall, placing two other series in the Top Ten. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" (3.8/11, good for eighth) joined "Lost" -- perhaps the show that benefited most from the strike -- which found its footing after a shaky season last year, rebounding in the Thursday-night time slot of "Grey's Anatomy." Last night's final episode before a hiatus delivered a fifth-place 4.4/12.
That demo delivery was slightly down from last week, probably due to another new season -- at least for 64 college basketball teams (minus eight, as the bracket racket over the water cooler has already indicated) -- in CBS's annual march to an April champion in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Last night's 3.3/9 in the "Fast Affiliate Ratings" will change once the final national numbers are released later today, as they will account for the post-11 p.m. end time, but for now are right on pace with last year's 3.3/10.
Of course, despite CBS's and ABC's Monday success, just like the old new season, the new new season still has new scripted series that struggle, such as Fox's "New Amsterdam," which fell to a series-low 2.1/5 (41st) -- half its debut -- as well as "Canterbury's Law," holding steady, but still low at 60th with a 1.6/5.
But the week was still strong for Fox, however, as "Moment of Truth" delivered a seventh-place 4.0/12 and beat CBS's "Survivor" (3.1/9, 14th) which ran Wednesday due to Thursday's hoops. And once again it was one-two for the Tuesday (9.3/24) and Wednesday (8.8/23) episodes of "American Idol."
And despite this week being the culmination of the Easter season, ABC's airing of "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown" was fourth in the time slot with a 1.9/5, nabbing 45th overall.
This may have been like Lucy pulling the football out from underneath him in the sport that evokes the fall season, as Charles Schulz's Charlie Brown was unable to replicate the ratings of the one holiday special that masterfully mixes the sacred and the secular, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." But if Charles and Charlie were still around, they would no doubt be cheered that their favorite season -- baseball -- starts just two weeks from Sunday.
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NOTE: A share is a percentage of TV households that have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households, whether or not their sets are turned on. For example, a 1.0 rating is 1% of the total U.S. households with a TV. In order to report ratings on a timely basis, all the ratings listed here reflect a Nielsen Live number. (Many ad deals have been negotiated on the basis of a commercial minute, live-plus-3 viewing basis.) John Rash is senior VP-director of broadcast negotiations for Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis. For daily rating updates, see rashreport.com.