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May 15, 2009

Finale ratings: 'Grey's,' 'Office,' 'CSI,' 'Hell's,' 'Bones'

Grey's anatomy In an evening full of season finales, the closers for ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" and Fox's "Hell's Kitchen" notably climbed Thursday night, while CBS' "CSI" and NBC's "The Office" fell.

ABC's two-hour "Grey's" (16.4 million viewers, 5.8 preliminary adults 18-49 rating) ruled the night with its best rating in three months with an ending that might have been written by the network's business affairs department. "Ugly Betty" (6.8 million, 2.0) served as lead in.

In second, CBS' penultimate "Survivor" (12 million, 3.7) was on par, but "CSI" (14.4 million, 3.4) continued its descent this week, down 6%.

"Grey's" and "CSI" used to be the Greek gods of primetime dramas doing battle on this Mount Olympus of time periods. Now the smoke has cleared and "Grey's" is king. There's been stories blaming Lawrence Fishburne for the decline of "CSI," but the ratings drop is more likely due to the departure of William Petersen than the addition of the actor who replaced him. Still, some cast freshening next season might make sense. And if the "Grey's" ending is any hint, the ABC medical drama could find itself navigating a cast shakeup similar to CBS' procedural.

Meanwhile, CBS' transplanted finale for "CSI: NY" (12.8 million, 3.0) placed second in the hour with a lower-than-usual number.

Fox was third, with "Bones" (8.7 million, 2.5) up a couple of ticks for its finale and "Hell's" (7.4 million, 3.1) climbing 15%. Fox made a land grab for Thursday nights this season with these two shows, trying to bust out of its usual fourth place. Fox doesn't always manage third, but last night was a definitive victory (averaging 2.8 to NBC's 2.3). Still, these time periods are rough -- both "Bones" and "Hell's" posted their lowest-rated finales ever. Expect the network to try to find a way to continue putting pressure on NBC here in the fall.

On NBC, oddsmakers have been doubtful about "My Name Is Earl" (4.8 million, 2.0) receiving a pickup. Last night's finale improved from last week's drop and matched the closer of "Parks and Recreation" (4.2 million, 2.0), a new show NBC has renewed. (But does that say something good about "Earl" ... or bad about "Parks"?)

At 9 p.m., "The Office" finale (6.7 million, 3.5) was down 10%, followed by "30 Rock" (5.7 million, 2.8). Rounding out the night, the renewed "Southland" (4.6 million, 1.7) fell 15% to another low, like a praised party guest determined to embarrass its generous host.  

For all the attention given to the CW's soaps, "Smallville" (3.2 million, 1.4) and "Supernatural" (2.9 million, 1.3) have served a reliable full night of programming this season. Both shows gained slightly for their finales.

Here's a full season chart for NBC's "The Office," including its post-Super Bowl episode:


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