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Viewers Want More "NCIS"

CBS scored a big win Tuesday night when "NCIS" opened its seventh season with the largest audience in its history - 21 million viewers.

After that, CBS's new "NCIS" spinoff, "NCIS: LA" premiered with a bigger audience than last season's timeslot occupant "The Mentalist" which had been last season's most successful new-series launch. The spinoff, which stars Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J, copped 19 million viewers.

At 10, 14 million checked out CBS's new Julianna Margulies procedural lawyer drama "The Good Wife," aka "Chris Noth in Prison: Hot." That's CBS's best Premiere Week performance at 10 Tuesdays in seven years.

Then, Dave Letterman had former President Bill Clinton on the show and enjoyed his highest rated "Late Show" Premiere Week Tuesday since '96, doubling the rating of NBC's timeslot competitor "The Tonight Show."

Add it all up and you have CBS's best Premiere Week Tuesday in 16 years.

Only four programs cracked double digits Tuesday night; three of them aired on CBS.

The other was ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" which averaged 15 million viewers, though that is the show's smallest fall-edition Tuesday debut audience ever.

After "Dancing," ABC unveiled Christian Slater's latest recent attempt to mount a TV career, Jerry Bruckheimer's new "The Forgotten"-- his first was NBC's disastrous "My Own Worst Enemy." "The Forgotten" averaged just under 10 million viewers -- well behind Margulies's new show.

On the other hand, "The Forgotten" opened much stronger than ABC's Tuesday 10 p.m. drama last fall. The second season debut of "Eli Stone" only attracted an average of 8 million people. (That second season did not begin until October.)

Over at CW network, "90210's" die-hard 2 million fans stuck with the show, but "Melrose Place" is now down to 1.4 million viewers - a great premium cable network number. CW blames this plunge on the great performance with young viewers in the same timeslot of CBS's "NCIS: LA." This is a sentence we did not expect to ever write.

CW has signed primetime-soap-saver Heather Locklear to administer CPR to "Melrose" but it may be too late.

And at NBC, "The Biggest Loser" (8 million) and "The Jay Leno Show" (7 million) both, predictably, fell a lot compared to the previous week's early-premiere performances.

But Jay, who's pegged as the older-skewing talk show host, actually won his timeslot among 18-34-year-old viewers against Margulies's and Slater's series - maybe because his guest was Pee Wee Herman?

By Lisa de Moraes  |  September 23, 2009; 3:08 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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