And now for this week's recap of the CSI-Law & Order, er, prime-time ratings...
Forgive us our confusion, but the 2002-03 season is looking an awful lot like one big battle between shows titled either CSI or Law & Order.
For the ratings week ended Sunday, fully one-quarter of the top 20 was occupied by series from the two franchises.
Thanks to its CSI outlets, CBS claimed its second straight victory of the new fall season, besting NBC (and its Law & Orders).
Overall, an estimated 13.3 million viewers took in programming on the Eyeball, compared to the 12.6 million who watched the Peacock.
CBS placed five shows in the top 10, led by (natch) the original CSI (second place, with 29.5 million viewers) and (double natch) newbie CSI: Miami (sixth place, 21.5 million).
NBC also placed five shows in the top 10, including the reigning prime-time champ, Friends (first place, 31.5 million). Its myriad Law & Order shows stacked up this way: the original Law & Order (ninth place, 19.1 million); Law & Order: Criminal Intent (18th place, 15.3 million); and, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (19th place, 15.1 million).
In non-related CSI-Law & Order news, ABC, which could use a CSI and/or a Law & Order, lagged in third place, averaging 9.7 million overall viewers.
Monday Night Football was ABC's highest-rated show, and its lone top 10 entry. It tied the freshman CBS sitcom Still Standing for the 10th and final spot, with 18.1 million viewers. (Now, if ABC can convince the NFL to get with the CSI cloning program, and play football on Friday nights and Saturday nights and...)
At least the spin from the beleaguered Alphabet is upbeat: "Things are really looking up for ABC..." But while its new Tuesday night comedy block (led by John Ritter's 8 Simple Rules..., finishing 28th last week with 13.1 million viewers) is indeed "looking up," overall ABC viewership is down 10 percent from last season's disaster. (By comparison, NBC is off just 2 percent; CBS and Fox are up 16 and 12 percent, respectively.)
Three new ABC bombs that seem destined for quick detonation: MDs (71st place, 7.4 million); Push, Nevada (93rd place, 4.4 million); and That Was Then (94th place, 4.3 million).
CBS and NBC, in contrast, have launched virtually dud-free fall lineups. CBS has three new top 20 hits: CSI: Miami, Still Standing and Without a Trace (which finished 17th last week with 15.4 million viewers). NBC has three new top 30 shows: Good Morning, Miami (14th place, 16.8 million), American Dreams (26th place, 13.6 million) and Hidden Hills (27th place, 13.4 million).
Among the Eyeball's disappointments (barely mentioned, if at all, in the network's weekly bragfest): The Amazing Race 3 (52nd place, 9.5 million); Presidio Med (62nd place, 8.3 million); and Robbery Homicide Division (63rd place, 8.2 million).
In addition to soft ratings, the makers of Presidio Med are coping with the absence of costar Blythe Danner, on leave following last week's death her husband, TV producer Bruce Paltrow.
At NBC, the new Tuesday night sitcom The In-Laws (49th place, 10.1 million) isn't exactly ingratiating itself into the Must-See family.
Among the other network also-rans, Fox finished fourth for the week, averaging 8.1 million viewers. WB continued to best UPN, averaging 5 million viewers to the latter's 4.1 million.
Fox appears to be behind the wheel of a minor hit in the new action-cop show, Fastlane (60th place, 8.3 million). Overall, its top-rated series was That '70s Show (54th place, 8.9 million).
At the WB, Smallville (59th place, 8.4 million) continued to fly high, with UPN led, per usual, by WWE Smackdown! (79th place, 6.1 million).
So far, the WB is outdueling UPN for the dis-honor of launching the season's lowest-rated new show. The Frog's time-travel-minded Do Over (not to be confused with ABC's similarly themed, and similarly ignored, That Was Then) ranked 105th out of 108 shows on the six networks, with 2.5 million viewers.
UPN's flailing freshman Haunted couldn't scare up many more fans. The hourlong series, starring Matthew Fox as a P.I. who spies dead people, ranked 102nd for the week, with 2.7 million viewers.
Here's a rundown of the 10 most-watched shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. Friends, NBC, 31.5 million viewers
2. CSI, CBS, 29.5 million
3. ER, NBC, 25.9 million
4. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 22.6 million
5. Survivor: Thailand, CBS, 21.6 million viewers
6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 21.5 million
7. Will & Grace, NBC, 21 million
8. Scrubs, NBC, 20.6 million
9. Law & Order, NBC, 19.1 million
10. (tie) Monday Night Football, ABC, 18.1 million
10. (tie) Still Standing, CBS, 18.1 million