'30 Rock' returns to series high
Following Fey's devastating impression of the Alaska governor and last month's slew of Emmy wins, the return of NBC's "30 Rock" was given a serious drum roll this fall.
Thankfully for the network, the comedy burst back into the spotlight strong: Thursday's "Rock" premiere hit series-high numbers. The comedy was seen by 8.5 million viewers and earned a 4.1 preliminary adults 18-49 rating -- up 21% from its debut last year. The show was also aided by the primetime edition of "Saturday Night Live" warming up its time period the past few weeks.
"Rock" wasn't able to maintain its lead-in from "The Office" (9.3 million, 4.7), however, which was up 12% this week.
The "Rock" performance finally gives NBC a glowing premiere-rating headline for its scripted programming this season. And with next week's episode featuring a guest appearance by Oprah Winfrey, the show stands a firm shot at maintaining its record high for another round.
As for the rest of NBC's lineup, "My Name Is Earl" (6.2 million, 24) was down a tenth, and "Kath & Kim" grew a notch (5.5 million, 2.3). At 10 p.m., "ER" climbed slightly this week (9.1 million, 3.4) to once again win its time period against its freshman competitors. As for NBC ordering three more scripts to extend the season to a full 22 episodes, sources say the network decided against the idea.
NBC came in third place overall. CBS was first once again, yet had ratings declines on its three key shows. "Survivor" slipped 7% (13.1 million, 4.1), "CSI" was down 17% (18.6 million, 4.7) and "Eleventh Hour" was down 6% (11.5 million, 2.9).
In second place, ABC demonstrated ratings gains in two hours. "Grey's Anatomy" (15.1 million, 5.5) was up a notch from last week and ranked as the highest-rated show of the night. "Life on Mars" (8.4 million, 2.7) went up 13%, though was still in last place at 10 p.m. "Ugly Betty" slipped slightly (8.6 million, 2.5).
In fourth, Fox had the return of "Kitchen Nightmares" to originals (4 million, 1.7), with a "Nightmares" repeat as lead-in. Fox has been running sports and specials in this slot since September, and "Nightmares" was down 19% from its last airing.
The CW aired an on par "Smallville" (4.2 million, 1.7) and a 15%-boosted "Supernatural" (3.5 million, 1.5) that ranked as the show's best performance since its season premiere.