Mark Arbeit / TLC
Mark Arbeit / TLC
Were the ratings for Jon & Kate Plus 8 really slipping prior to last night's "big announcement?" Is Conan O'Brien gaining on David Letterman—or vice versa? Which surprise drama hit outdrew the hard-to-watch Jon & Kate, the impossible-not-to-watch Real Housewives of New Jersey and even The Closer?
The answers—and more questions—in this week's TV ratings quiz:
1. Is divorce the best thing that ever happened to TLC's signature giganto-family? Nielsen-wise, yes. Last night's episode, featuring the white-on-black title card that "dissolved" Jon and Kate Gosselin, averaged a series- and network-best 10.6 million viewers, TLC said.
2. Was the show in trouble before last night? Please.
Make no mistake, Jon & Kate had fallen off from its premiere, and that's because its premiere was almost as absurdly big as last night's show. But every episode, even last week's (relative) clunker, which saw a season-low 2.9 million check out the American Chopper crossover, has run above last season's average.
3. But haven't there been real signs that people are tiring of the Gosselin trainwreck? OK, maybe one sign: When George Lopez reruns on Nick at Nite draw more viewers than your show, then maybe your show needs to—oh, how would a tactful white-on-black title card put it?—regroup.
4. Conan or Dave? Week two of the O'Brien Tonight Show administration saw O'Brien claim victory. Of course, it also saw CBS point out that Letterman's Late Show pulled within only 100,000 viewers of the Tonight Show—the smallest margin separating the two shows, CBS said, since December 2005.
5. Doesn't Jimmy Kimmel have a late-night show, too? Why, yes, he does. And as it turns out, O'Brien's second Tonight Show week was, likewise, a good week for Kimmel, who saw his audience jump by more than 25 percent.
6. Should Stephen Colbert do another tour of duty in Iraq? If he doesn't, Comedy Central may draft him. The Colbert Report's squadron of shows from Iraq averaged 1.4 million viewers, up 56 percent from the previous week.
7. What cable drama could possibly be bigger than The Closer? Royal Pains, which is supposed to be drafting on Burn Notice, is blowing past Burn Notice—and everything else, including Kyra Sedgwick's typically top-rated cop series. In the latest Nielsen weekly rankings, which don't include last night's Jon & Kate, the Mark Feuerstein freshman doctor show finished atop the heap with 6.5 million viewers. The Closer (6.47 million) and Burn Notice (5.8 million) finished second and third, respectively, among cable dramas. The premiere episode of Jada Pinkett Smith's Hawthorne (3.8 million) ranked fourth.
8. Doesn't table-flipping count for anything these days? It counts for a lot, actually. The table-flipping finale of The Real Housewives of New Jersey (3.5 million) was cable's top reality show—and, per Bravo, its first-ever episode from the far-flung Housewives franchise to top 3 million viewers.
9. Why should Jon and Kate Gosselin not feel so bad about losing to George Lopez? Because the man was having a week. His new Nick movie, Mr. Troop Mom, was cable's No. 1 telepic, with 4 million viewers.
10. What was the week's biggest summer show? An NCIS (10.4 million) that originally aired in December. Wednesday's So You Think You Can Dance (8.5 million) was the most-watched new summer show.