How's the fall working out for TV's top shows? How's that second chance working out for Dollhouse? And how's Jay Leno working out for Conan O'Brien?
The answers—and more questions—in the latest TV ratings quiz:
1. Name three big shows that look even bigger than they did last fall. NCIS rose to No. 1 in the latest Nielsen rankings. House returned to the Top 10. The Big Bang Theory broke into the Top 20.
2. Name three big shows that don't. The Mentalist, CSI: Miami and Desperate Housewives all fell out of the Top 10. CSI suffered the most viewer defections from fall premiere to fall premiere, but still wound up at No. 7 for the week.
3. Can Dollhouse get any smaller? Than last season? Yup. Joss Whedon's show averaged only 2.5 million diehards for its latest opener, bad for 110th place.
4. Would Conan O'Brien rather be conked on the head, or follow Jay Leno the rest of his life? Judging by the early ratings (and the fact that a conk on the head landed O'Brien in the hospital), we're going with Leno. In Leno's first week at 10 p.m., O'Brien's Tonight Show outdrew David Letterman's Late Show at 11:35 p.m. Granted, Leno was unusually big, and Letterman was in reruns, but we thought we'd try to cheer up O'Brien. Head-conkings really are the worst.
5. Would NBC rather air Leno at 10 p.m., or Medium? Doesn't matter. NBC has Leno, who averaged 6 million viewers in his second week against real competition, down from 12 million in his premiere week against Primetime: Family Secrets, and CBS has Medium, which averaged 8.9 million at 9 p.m., Friday.
6. How does Smallville look on Friday? Small. In fact, it looks Dollhouse small: 2.5 million viewers, 109th place. During the same week last year, when it aired on Thursdays, Smallville averaged 4.2 million, and finished in the 70s.
7. Why did the CW cancel Beautiful Life, but order more scripts for Melrose Place? Because for the second week running, Beautiful Life (138th place) was even harder to find in the Nielsen rankings than MP (123rd place). Also, Heather Locklear's scheduled to show up on MP on Nov. 17, and it'd be rude to invite her and then not have anything for her to say.
8. What has replaced Jon & Kate Plus 8, besides, well, Kate Plus 8? History's Pawn Stars, Bravo's Real Housewives of Atlanta and Lifetime's Project Runway, to name cable's top three reality shows last week. TLC's Jon & Kate tied for 316th place overall. USA's Monk, Nick's iCarly and Disney's Sonny with a Chance were cable's top scripted shows.
As an added bonus, here's a rundown of the 10 biggest broadcast network series premieres for the week ended Sunday. Not a bad start in the bunch.
- NCIS: Los Angeles, 18.7 million viewers (2nd place)
- The Good Wife, 13.7 million viewers (15th place)
- Modern Family, 12.6 million viewers (20th place)
- FlashForward, 12.5 million viewers (21st place)
- Cougar Town, 11.3 million viewers (23rd place)
- The Forgotten, 9.6 million viewers (28th place)
- The Cleveland Show, 9.5 million viewers (29th place)
- Accidentally on Purpose, 8.9 million viewers (35th place)
- Eastwick, 8.5 million viewers (38th place)
- Mercy, 8.4 million viewers (39th place)
Oh, and you're probably not wondering, but Fox's Brothers was the week's weakest launch—104th and 105th place for back-to-back episodes that nobody watched, and still managed to top Dollhouse.