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Should Fox Have Messed With Fringe?

Fringe, Josh Jackson, Anna Torv Barbara Nitke/FOX

Should NBC have opted for Lipstick Jungle over Jay Leno? Should the CW have uprooted steady Smallville for The Vampire Diaries? And should Fox have fiddled with Fringe's time slot?

With the first month of the 2009-10 TV season in the books, it's time to look at how the new shows—and the old shows in new time slots—are faring compared to last fall's lineup.

Beware of some surprising answers in the latest ratings quiz.

1. And the winner is…Lipstick Jungle or Jay Leno? Leno. At this point, the comic's averaging about 2 million more people on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. than the late Brooke Shields series was. And, yes, while Leno's ahead because of his big premiere week, big premiere weeks count.

2. Everything else at 10 p.m. or Jay Leno? A draw. Leno's bigger on Monday than My Own Worst Enemy, and on Friday than Life. On Tuesday and Thursday, he's a poor (if cheaper) substitute for last fall's Law & Order: SVU and E.R., respectively.

3. Smallville or The Vampire Diaries? The CW. The vampire show's slightly bigger on Thursdays than Smallville was, and while Smallville's a lot smaller on Fridays than it used to be on Thursdays, it's way bigger on Fridays than Everybody Hates Chris and The Game were.   

4. Fringe on Tuesdays or Fringe on Thursdays? Fox. Yes, Fringe is having a rough time on Thursday (the show's down 2.5 million viewers from last fall), but Fox was having a rougher time there last year with Kitchen Nightmares. The move, however, isn't working out as well as the CW's Vampire Diaries/Smallville swap, and that's because So You Think You Can Dance is a drawing nearly half the audience that Fringe was on Tuesdays. (In SYTYCD's defense, it lacks House as a lead-in.)

5. Kath & Kim or Parks and Recreation? The dearly departed Kath & Kim—by nearly 2 million viewers. Last fall, NBC's 8 p.m. Thursday comedy block was all around bigger, with My Name Is Earl holding a slight audience edge over Community.

6. …Ugly Betty or FlashForward? FlashForward on Thursdays—by more than 2.5 million viewers. After just one Friday outing, Ugly Betty is down from last fall's average, but an improvement for ABC over SuperNanny at 9 p.m., Friday. (SuperNanny's back this Friday at 8 p.m.)

7. …'Til Death or Glee? Duh. Glee's a Top 30 show among the demographically desirable; Fox's old 9 p.m. Wednesday comedy block wasn't. 

7. …Privileged or Melrose Place? Privileged, by a hair. After six episodes, the one-and-done Privileged was averaging 2 million die-hards for the CW on Tuesdays; after the same number of episodes, MP is averaging 1.97 million.

8. …Dirty Sexy Money or Eastwick? Eastwick, by a hair extension. The new ABC Wednesday show is averaging 6.9 million; the old ABC Wednesday show was averaging 6.5 million.

9. …Pushing Daisies or Hank? Hank. Along with The Middle, the conventional Kelsey Grammer comedy is pulling in about 1 million more people for ABC on Wednesday than the unconventional Lee Pace series.

Added bonus: A select rundown of the week that was, per the latest Nielsen rankings:

  • Moving into the Top 10: CBS' Two and a Half Men (eighth place, 14.2 million viewers) and ABC's Dancing With the Stars results show (ninth place, 14 million).
  • Moving out of the Top 10: ABC's Grey's Anatomy (11th place, 13.8 million) and Fox's House (13th place, 13.5 million).
  • "Top" premiere: NBC's 30 Rock, which, no matter how many times it goes to the Emmys, there it is: 56th place (6.4 million).
  • Hippest new show: Fox's The Cleveland Show, which ranked 47th overall, with 7.6 million viewers, but placed 13th among the demographically desirable.
  • Top prime-time cable series, and/or proof tweens control the remote except when sports are on: Disney's Hannah Montana (5.7 million), Nick's iCarly (4.7 million), Disney's Suite Life on Deck (4.66 million) and Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place (4.6 million).
  • Top cable show starring someone over the age of 17: USA's Monk (4 million).
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