While NBC may beg to differ, the Eyeball did indeed pluck the Peacock on its favorite Must-See night of the week, Thursday, en route to CBS' third straight weekly prime-time ratings win of the three-week-old season.
CBS, led by the top-rated CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, was the most-watched network on Thursday night. It also was the most-watched network on Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. (On Wednesday and Friday, apparently, it rested.)
Overall, the Eyeball's shows averaged 13.2 million viewers, compared to NBC's 12.4 million.
Fox, powered by the baseball playoffs, moved up to third place, averaging 10 million viewers. ABC, still plucky despite slipping into fourth and canceling two of its new fall shows, mustered an average of 9.7 million viewers.
The WB, meanwhile, got strong season premieres from old-school family show 7th Heaven (62nd place, 8.6 million viewers) and new-school Bat show, Birds of Prey (69th place, 7.6 million). The netlet bested UPN for fifth-place honors, with 5.2 million average viewers in prime-time, compared to the latter's 4.2 million.
The story of the week for top-rated CBS was, again, CSI. The detail-oriented crime drama was watched by 30.7 million detail-oriented fans, a new best for the show, now in its third season.
In getting the drop on Thursday night, CSI also got the drop on all of prime-time. It now ranks as the number one show of the season to date, averaging 29.9 million viewers, and edging NBC's Friends (29.86 million viewers).
While CSI gets the headlines, CBS is also getting big performances from its two other Thursday night shows: Survivor: Thailand (fourth place, 21.2 million) and newbie cop show Without a Trace (13th place, 15.9 million).
To be sure, NBC, which has dominated Thursday dating back to the 1980s days of Cheers and The Cosby Show, remains a powerhouse there--all five of its shows placed in the Top 10: Friends (second place, 26.6 million), ER (third place, 24.7 million), Will & Grace (sixth place, 20.2 million), Scrubs (eighth place, 18.6 million) and freshman sitcom Good Morning, Miami (10th place, 16.3 million).
But NBC also is getting non-powerhouse performances from a batch of new shows, including the thin Tuesday comedies Hidden Hills (42nd place, 10.6 million) and The In-Laws (68th place, 7.7 million), and the slipping Sunday drama American Dreams (46th place, 10.4 million--down from 13.9 million for its premiere episode).
NBC's Tuesday night problem, exacerbated by the suddenly shot Just Shoot Me (75th place, 6.6 million), is dragging down Frasier. The venerable shrink comedy shrank to 21st place (14.3 million), amid increasingly tough competition from ABC comedies (led by 8 Simple Rules... climbing to 15th place with 15 million viewers), CBS dramas (paced by the ever-lovin' JAG, 17th place, with 14.8 million viewers) and WB eccentricities (chiefly, Smallville, settling in 60th place, with 8.8 million viewers).
Over at ABC, the network assures us it "saw another banner week." And, indeed, it did. It handed out the first two pink slips of the season (to Push, Nevada and That Was Then).
To be fair, it also has written season-long passes to a troika of new comedies: 8 Simple Rules..., Life With Bonnie (49th place, 10 million), and Less Than Perfect (53rd place, 9.6 million).
Other freshmen shows receiving votes of confidence (at least through the end of the season): WB's family drama Everwood (74th place, 6.7 million); its family sitcom Greetings from Tucson (91st place, 4 million); its barely watched time-traveling sitcom Do Over (101st place, 2.4 million); and the UPN comedy Half and Half (89th place, 4.4 million).
The WB's tolerance for shows that aren't exactly, you know, looked at by people reached its limit with Off Centre. The sophomore sitcom--104th out of 104 shows on the big six networks last week--was axed today.
Other shows not looking long for the world: CBS' Presidio Med (71st place, 7.2 million) and ABC's MDs (76th place, 6.4 million), locked in a pitched battle to see which Wednesday night doctor drama can be watched the least; and CBS' Robbery Homicide Division (67th place, 7.7 million) and Bram & Alice (50th place, 10 million), both of which the network declined to brag about in its weekly bragging report.
Here's a rundown of the 10 most-watched shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. CSI, CBS, 30.7 million viewers
2. Friends, NBC, 26.6 million
3. ER, NBC, 24.7 million
4. Survivor: Thailand, CBS, 21.2 million
5. Law & Order, NBC, 20.3 million
6. Will & Grace, NBC, 20.2 million
7. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 19.9 million
8. Scrubs, NBC, 18.6 million
9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 17.2 million
10. Good Morning, Miami, NBC, 16.3