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September 24, 2008

'Mentalist,' 'Knocks' among Tuesday debuts

The_mentalist3 Competition intensified Tuesday as premiere week kicked into full swing. Several returning shows reached new lows and a few series premieres had rough starts.

CBS debuted its new procedural drama “The Mentalist” (15.5 million viewers, 3.5 preliminary adults 18-to-49 rating and a 9 share) in the ultra-competitive 9 p.m. hour (THR's review here).

That's up significantly from the premiere of “The Unit” in the time period last year. Though "The Mentalist" numbers aren't eye-popping, they improve a traditionally weak time period for the network and moved CBS ahead of rival NBC.

“Mentalist” retained all of its lead in -- the premiere of “NCIS” (17.7 million, 3.5/9), which was up slightly from last fall and was the only returning show last night to demonstrate year-to-year gains in the demo.

At 10 p.m., the premiere of “Without a Trace” (11.4 million, 2.8/7) was another story, dropping a steep 40% to a series low from its debut last year, when it ran after “CSI” on Thursday.

ABC also unveiled a new series, the traveling game show “Opportunity Knocks” (6.6 million, 1.8/5), which was the lowest-rated show among the major networks and was down significantly from the time period last year (THR review here).  ABC followed “Knocks” with the Tuesday premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” (18.2 million, 4.7/12), which held up well in its second airing, losing only a tenth of a point from last fall, and ranked as the night’s most-watched show.

The newcomers put pressure on Fox, which nonetheless managed to retain its Tuesday grip and win the night. But “House” (12.1 million, 4.9/14) fell 12% to its lowest rating since 2005 and “Fringe” (7.7 million, 4.2/10) lost a chunk of its second-week bounce, dropping 18%.

Overall: Fox led, ABC placed second for the evening and CBS was third.

NBC came in fourth, leading off with  “The Biggest Loser: Families” (7.2 million, 2.9/8), which fell 9% from last week’s premiere. At 10 p.m., the premiere of “Law & Order: SVU” (9.5 million, 3.7/10) placed second in the hour and was down a precarious 23% from its premiere in the same time period last year (likely due to the added procedural competition from "Trace").

After halting its “90210” (3 million, 1.5/4) ratings drain last week, the CW’s soap remake fell a couple points this week, as did “Privileged” (1.9 million, 0.9/2).


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