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January 30, 2009

'Hell's' storms Thursday; 'CSI' thrives

Laurence fishburne Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" returned very strong during an irregular night in the ratings, with "American Idol" making a Thursday appearance and several top shows in repeats.

Fox led the way with "Idol" (24.3 million, 9.2 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and a 25 share). This is several weeks before "Idol" began airing on Thursdays last year, so the singing competition lacks a comparable evening to size its number against.

The fifth-season premiere of "Hell's" (11.1 million, 4.9/12) placed a strong second at 9 p.m. and benefited from NBC's "The Office" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" airing repeats. "Hell's" is down slightly from last year when it debuted on a Tuesday after "Idol" during the writers strike. Its rating significantly improved on Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares" performance in the slot and marks Fox's highest-rated Thursday season premiere in more than nine years.

CBS' "CSI" (20.1 million, 5.3/13) also benefited from ABC and NBC airing repeats, but even so: This is a relief number for the network. It's the second week for "CSI" without William Petersen and -- repeats or no repeats on the other networks -- viewers still have to choose to watch a show. That "CSI" was able to top 20 million viewers (for only the fourth time this season, and with a "Criminal Minds" repeat as a lead-in) while also posting gains from last week, bodes well for the series continuing to thrive after swapping out its lead character. At 10 p.m., CBS' "Eleventh Hour" (12.7 million, 3.1/8) was also up slightly and won the hour.

NBC was third with repeats, ABC fourth with repeats and an out-in-the-cold episode of "Private Practice" (7.7 million, 2.8/7). Without an original "Grey's" to fuel it, "Practice" was down 22% this week. The CW aired "Smallville" (4.2 million, 1.7/5) and the highest-rated "Supernatural" (3.6 million, 1.6/4) since its season premiere.

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