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October 02, 2008

'Daisies,' 'Practice' endure dramatic declines

Pushing_daisies_2UPDATED: The premiere of ABC's trio of original dramas posted dramatic declines Wednesday as "Pushing Daisies," "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money" returned significantly lower than last year.

Despite strong reviews, the return of "Daisies" (6.3 million viewers, 2.0 national adults 18-49 rating and 6 share) dropped a roller coaster-style 55% to a series-low fourth place at 8 p.m. That's the steepest plummet of any returning show this fall (not counting Fox's "Terminator," whose January premiere aired as a post-NFL playoff special).

The premiere of "Private Practice" (8.2 million, 3.3/8), whose critical reception has been unenthusiastic, declined 37% to place third at 9 p.m.

Then "Dirty Sexy Money" (7 million, 2.4/7) fell 33% to place second at 10 p.m. ("Money" was the only ABC show last night to improve upon its last episode, which aired in December).

When ABC scheduled the "Daisies-Practice-Money" block last year, it was considered a bold move that paid off -- an entire night of new shows that performed strong in the ratings. Then the dramas became strike victims, spending nine months on the bench after aborted first seasons. Coming back this week, the trio was vulnerable. Still, NBC's "Chuck" was in the same boat and declined less.

In retrospect, CBS rushing "The Big Bang Theory" back into production to air some bridge episodes last spring looks wise, while ABC airing three strike casualties in a row might not have been the best plan. The network must have figured if the lineup could cold-start once, it could do it again.

So ABC placed second for the night, leaving CBS to win its second Wednesday in a row.

CBS had hoped its comedies would perform better this week without facing "Dancing With the Stars" but both were roughly on par with their premieres. "New Adventures of Old Christine" (6.8 million, 2.0/6) dropped a tenth; "Gary Unmarried" (6.9 million, 2.2/6) fell two-tenths.

More severely, Week Two of "Criminal Minds" (14.8 million, 3.9/10) dropped 17%, though still won the 9 p.m. hour. Despite the weaker "Minds" lead-in, "CSI: NY" (14.9 million, 4.1/11) actually grew slightly (clearly, it's tough to restrain a note of surprising for ratings increases this fall, even for a tenth of a point) and was the highest-rated show of the night.

NBC came in third, the second episode of "Knight Rider" (7.8 million, 2.4/7) holding up better than one might have expected, dropping merely a tenth. Never-ending summer reality show "America's Got Talent" (12.7 million, 3.3/8) finally concluded, up 22% from last week when it faced a half hour of "Dancing." But at 10 p.m., the second round of "Lipstick Jungle" (5.3 million, 2.0/5) fell 17% from its premiere.

In fourth, Fox aired an on par "Bones" (10 million, 3.2/9) that won the 8 p.m. hour. At 9 p.m., Fox aired the " 'Til Death" comedy hour (4.2 million, 1.7/5 and 3.6 million, 1.5/4). A second "Death" episode replaced "Do Not Disturb" and last night both episodes rated higher than last week.   

CW's "America's Next Top Model" (4 million, 1.9/5) fell slightly.


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