FlashForward, Grey's Anatomy, The Mentalist and CSI: Which show didn't the future look bright for last night?
First, let's run down what the answer isn't.
• It's not FlashForward, even if the all-new Lost was asked to lead off ABC's Thursday against CBS' Survivor: Samoa and Fox's Bones. In the most impressive launch of the week, FlashForward won the 8 p.m. hour with 12.4 million viewers, per preliminary Nielsen estimates.
• It's not Grey's Anatomy, even if financially strapped Seattle Grace itself is in downsizing. The show's two-hour sixth-season premiere ruled the night with 16.8 million gathered for Dr. O'Malley's memorial.
• And, nope, it's The Mentalist, even if last season's freshman hit fell flat in its sophomore premiere—not to mention its new night and time—with a big, but disappointing 14.3 million. Still, the show may rebound as soon as next week when it goes up against Private Practice, and not Grey's, at 10 p.m.
And that means the answer—and the winner of the cloudiest future—is:
• CSI, even if it did round up the second-biggest audience of a big night (15.7 million). The bottom line is the show, now 10 seasons very old, was down about 7 million fans—7 million!—from last fall's opener, and seems assured of losing its crown as TV's No. 1 scripted series to that other group of letters: NCIS.
Elsewhere, NBC's The Office (7.3 million) had an okay night, Fox's Fringe (5.6 million) had an off night, the CW's Vampire Diaries (3.8 million) got a little bigger, and NBC's Community (5.4 million) got about 2 million people smaller.
Get acquainted with all the new shows in our 2009 Fall TV gallery.