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September 30, 2008

'Chuck' returns down; CW rebounds

Chuck The premieres of NBC's "Chuck" and "Life" took a hit in the ratings Monday night. Both returned lower than their previous series launches, creating a "Heroes" sandwich in the lineup that left the 9 p.m. action drama to likewise fall in its second week back on the air.

Much has been made of Josh Schwartz's "Chuck" (6.6 million viewers, 2.6 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and 7 share) airing against Josh Schwartz's "Gossip Girl" (3.5 million, 1.9/5) in the 8 p.m. hour this season.

The shows have such different audiences its tough to ascertain if one has any impact on the other. So for whatever it's worth, "Chuck" returned from its extended strike-addled break down 27% from last year's premiere to place third in the hour with a series low (despite garnering positive reviews). "Gossip" was unfazed, rebounding 19% in the adult demo after its viewers presumably sampled other debuts last week. Fox's "Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles" (5.3 million, 2.0/5), however, is closer to the "Chuck" demo and dropped 13% against its new competitor.

NBC's "Heroes" (9.3 million, 4.4/10) fell 12% from its two-hour debut last week to a new low. At 10 p.m., the first of two Monday tryouts for "Life" (6.9 million, 2.7/7) placed second in the hour, down 25% from the premiere of "Journeyman" in the slot, but improved 13% on its previous telecast in this time period ("Life" also generally received upbeat return reviews). NBC plans to shift "Life" to Fridays to make way for the premiere of "My Own Worst Enemy" Oct. 13.

Overall, NBC ranked third this week. CBS edged out ABC to win the night for the second week in a row, but suffered declines of its own. CBS' second-week shows dropped slightly across the board: "Big Bang Theory" (8.7 million, 3.3/9, down 8%), "How I Met Your Mother" (8.8 million, 3.7/9, down 8%), "Two and a Half Men" (13.8 million, 4.7/11, down 11% and the night's highest-rated show), "Worst Week" (9.3 million, 3.1/7, down 18%) and "CSI: Miami" (14.3 million, 4.3/11, down 17%).

Of the CBS drops, the only shift that's worrisome is freshman entry "Worst Week," whose hit was the steepest and the show is already the lowest-rated of the lot. Although a 3.1 rating is still better than many other shows last night, networks try to avoid having a clear drag on a winning ticket. Also, though "Miami" won its time period, its drop shows that "Life" managed to have some impact on the veteran procedural.

Second-place ABC aired "Dancing With the Stars" (19.3 million, 4.5/11, down 15%) and "Boston Legal" (9.8 million, 2.3/6, down a notch).

Fox was fourth with "Terminator" and "Prison Break" (5.3 million, 2.0/5), both hitting series lows. The CW was fifth with "Gossip" and a similarly resurgent "One Tree Hill" (3.4 million, 1.9/4, up 27%).


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