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Aliens land; 14 million watch

More than 14 million people watched the unveiling of ABC's controversial "V" do-over, making it the second biggest new-series opening of the two-month-old 2009-10 TV season.

CBS's "NCIS" spinoff, "NCIS: Los Angeles" is still the ratings champ, having attracted 19 million viewers to its premiere episode in September.

But "V" squeaked by CBS's new "The Good Wife" to take second place among new-show premieres, according to national stats. The Julianna Margulies lawyer drama had opened earlier in the season to an audience of just under 14 million people.

In its ratings report, ABC focused instead on the 6.8 million people between the ages of 18 and 49 who watched the first episode of its new sci-fi series at 8 p.m. Tuesday - a ratings performance the network characterized as "soaring" above the 5.6 million in that age bracket who instead chose to watch the sixth episode of the seventh season of CBS's "NCIS" in the same hour. "V" copped the most viewers in that age bracket of any regularly scheduled 8 p.m. drama series on any network since ABC introduced "Lost" in the fall of '04.

ABC focused on that 18-49 year old slice of the general public in its ratings report because advertisers pay a premium to get their products in front of that slice.

The initial ratings were good news for the star-crossed series. The show was shut down in August for "creative" reasons after only a couple more episodes beyond the pilot were shot, and the so-called showrunner - writer/producer who makes the train run on time - has already been replaced twice.

More recently, ABC scrubbed a nearly two-week campaign to sky-write large red "V's" over U.S. landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, after The TV Column estimated how many gallons of fuel, grams of lead, tons of CO2, etc. the stunt might dump into the air. The network continued to heavily promote the series in other ways, including its own airwaves.

And, in an email, ABC programming chief Stephen McPherson rallied The Reporters Who Cover Television to help new "V" "join the ranks" of "the most successful shows on our air," explaining, "I'm really proud of the work my team has done on this reinvention of what has been called a 'cult classic'."

"V" is a re-working of an 80's miniseries that was a thinly veiled portrait of fascism. This version -- about ugly lizard-creatures masquerading as pretty, charismatic human-looking aliens who snooker young-adult humans with promises of "Hope," "Change" and universal health care, in a campaign to infiltrate our government -- was timed to launch on the one-year anniversary of the election of President Obama. That, even though it means only four episodes will air before it's taken off the schedule and the remaining episodes held until next calendar year.

(Report updated with national ratings)

By Lisa de Moraes  |  November 4, 2009; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  TV News  
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"ABC's controversial 'V' do-over"? What is the controversy? Are you referring to the internal changing of the writer/producer, or is there news about the show that I missed.

Posted by: niceshoes1 | November 4, 2009 6:14 PM | Report abuse

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