It sorta wasn't fair.
The first night of the fall TV season was overshadowed, overpowered and otherwise overwhelmed by the start of the Ashton Kutcher era on Two and a Half Men.
Here's a rundown of Monday's key ratings hits—and misses:
• Two and a Half Men (27.8 million viewers, per estimates): Is the sitcom going to outdraw the Emmys, the Grammys and some American Idol finales every week? Uh, probably not. But a win's a win—as a certain professed winner and former star of the series himself would have to agree.
• 2 Broke Girls (19.2 million viewers): Is the freshman comedy going to make like NCIS every week? Uh, probably not. (It's not even going to air after Two and a Half Men every week.) But a super-sized premiere's a super-sized premiere.
• How I Met Your Mother (11.3 million viewers and 12.2 million viewers): Were people extra-anxious to see Kutcher in the buff, or were they extra-anxious to see this comedy resolve its spring cliffhanger? Either way, this show, which, mind you, aired before, not after, Two and a Half Men, scored its biggest-ever premiere. By a lot.
• Castle (13.6 million viewers): The ABC show's biggest season premiere ever—impressive. The ABC show's biggest season premiere ever on a ridiculously huge night for CBS—even more impressive.
• Dancing With the Stars (18.6 million viewers): On a normal night, this probably would've been the No. 1 show. But it wasn't a normal night, and, perhaps accordingly, its rating among the demograhically desirable was the franchise's worst-ever for a fall premiere. So, what do we have here: An outright rejection of the cast, or a mere hiccup? Too soon to tell.
• The Playboy Club (5 million viewers): Well, it wanted to be Mad Men, and it got Mad Men-sized ratings... (OK, yes, it got bigger-than-Mad Men ratings, but, really, not that much bigger.) One question: Is Pan Am getting nervous?
AND THE REST
• Hawaii Five 5-0 (12 million viewers): It was the only CBS show that wasn't ridiculously huge, but still… Not a bad start to its sophomore season.
• Hell's Kitchen finale (5.9 million viewers) and The Sing-Off premiere (5.2 million viewers): Among those series run over by CBS' comedy lineup, the former got less run over than the latter, especially in the 18-49 demo.
Not enough ratings for you? Want more? You're in luck. Nielsen's standings for the final week of the summer are also out today. The highlights:
• Up All Night: Only early-bird premiere to crack the broadcast Top 10. (It finished in eighth.)
• America's Got Talent: Its two-part season finale took the No. 3 and 4 spots, and outranked the Emmys (eighth place).
• The Vampire Diaries: Highest-ranking CW premiere (77th place).
• Same old, same old: Jersey Shore was the No. 1 cable series, with The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles and iCarly close behind.
UPDATE: Two and a Half Men's huge premiere was significantly, well, huge-r than Nielsen initially let on. Final numbers out this afternoon show the episode was watched by nearly 29 million. Holy cow.