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October 07, 2008

Monday ratings: 'Heroes' falls; CBS comedies bounce

97338_d1175bUPDATED: A mix of verdicts and trends Monday night as CBS and Fox enjoyed some week-to-week growth, while NBC's hero-drama lineup moved into ratings red alert.

The good news: CBS won the night with several shows bouncing from last week: "The Big Bang Theory" (9.4 million viewers, 3.7 national adults 18-49 rating and a 10 share), "How I Met Your Mother" (9 million, 4.0/10) and "Two and a Half Men" (14 million, 5.1/12) were all up about 9%. And, yes, even "Worst Week" (8.9 million, 3.0/7) was up, but only by a tenth of point -- 3%. At 10 p.m., "CSI: Miami" (13.9 million, 4.0/10) won the hour, yet fell slightly.

CBS has been concerned about "Worst Week" being a Monday night Nielsen buzzkill. Had the show dropped again, the prognosis for staying in this valuable time slot would have likely been dire (especially with workman "Rules of Engagement" on the sidelines, just itching to get back in the game). But does "Worst" going up merely a tenth while its "Men" lead-in goes up four tenths really suggest a turnaround? Especially when "CSI" is diving several tenths afterward?

"Worst Week" is staying put, sources say. At least for now. The network likes the show, critics have called it the best new comedy of the fall (among the meager pickings), and that means showing another week of patience with the current viewership pothole. CBS has also just won the second week of the broadcast season and can afford a generous mood.

In second place, ABC had "Dancing With the Stars" (18.6 million, 4.3/11) holding steady and "Boston Legal" (8.8 million, 2.2/6) rising slightly.

In third, NBC showed across-the-board decline. Even with fifth-place CW in repeats last night, NBC’s two younger-skewing action dramas fell sharply yet again. "Chuck" (5.8 million, 2.3/8) dropped 15% and "Heroes" (8.2 million, 4.0/9) dropped 11%. At 10 p.m., "Life" (5.6 million, 2.2/6) also fell, down 19%. 

Not to gawk at the overturned semi-truck on the freeway, but that "Heroes" number is startling -- a series low by far (as is "Chuck") and marking the show's third week of decline. The action series matched "How I Met Your Mother" (!) for the first time.

"Heroes" was NBC's strongest scripted series the past couple years and is now fading with alarmingly quickness. It's a clear problem ... without a clear solution. Episodes this season have continued the show's dense and sometimes difficult-to-follow mythology (here's Maureen Ryan throwing up her hands and giving up on the show). That two-hour season premiere following a one-hour recap special felt like a headache-inducing mistake -- by the time you finished watching all three hours you've seen practically every character die and come back to life. Yet it still feels superior to last season. One can only hope the show has now established its third-week ratings bottom.

There was increased sports competition for male viewers on cable last night (ESPN's "Monday Night Football" and TBS' Major League Baseball divisional playoffs), though the action dramas on fourth-place Fox didn't likewise dip. "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (5.7 million, 2.3/6) bounced up 15% from last week's dire low that prompted some media rumblings about cancellation. The rumors were largely unfounded lest the show sank further. This is too important of a series for a network that's historically weak in the fall anyway.

"Prison Break" (5.4 million, 2.2/5) was up a notch, probably because of its boosted lead-in. But perhaps Stephen King's glowing EW review helped too.

-- Keep up with the daily ratings, TV entertainment news and Hibberd's programming analysis, add The Live Feed to Google Reader, MyYahoo or other RSS portals. Subscribe to THR's Live Feed morning ratings email.  


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