What do screwed-up soccer moms and plane-crash survivors have in common?
They're both staying on ABC for the long haul.
The Alphabet net has given full-season orders to its two rookie breakouts, the twisted suburban soap Desperate Housewives and the survival drama Lost. The freshman series have helped boost ABC to its first strong showing in the ratings in at least four years.
"Desperate Housewives and Lost each bring something unique to the table, and we're thrilled that audiences responded from day one," Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Primetime Entertainment, said in a release. "Creatively, these two shows only continue to get better."
Housewives, whose campy comedic look at the secret lives of sexually frustrated wives spurred some conservative critics to petition advertisers not to buy additional commercial time, is the most popular new show of the season and the most watched show on Sundays.
It is the third-most watched series on TV, averaging 20.7 million viewers and ranking behind only CBS' powerhouse franchise CSI and CSI: Miami.
Lost, about 48 strangers who survive a horrific plane crash only to be stranded on a desert island with some gnarly creatures, is the top-rated show in its Wednesday time slot. The drama, produced by Alias mastermind JJ Abrams, is the 10th-most popular show so far this season, averaging 17.6 million viewers.
With a large cast led by Matthew Fox, newcomer Evangeline Lilly and some creepy monsters, Lost has trounced its NBC rival, the police drama Hawaii, so badly in the ratings that the Peacock has pulled the plug on that series and is replacing it with another freshman drama, LAX, starring Heather Locklear.
"We are over the moon about [the pick-up]," Lost star Maggie Grace tells E! Online. "We had unofficial word but we were crossing our fingers, knocking on wood...We'd love to hang out together for many episodes to come."
The pick-ups were no-brainers for the network, which has been trying to shake off has-been status ever since 2001, when it relied on one too many broadcasts of the Regis Philbin-hosted Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to plug the holes in the net's schedule. The Disney-owned network has labored in fourth place until this season.
Also benefiting from the Alphabet's generosity is Jimmy Kimmel Live, which has been reupped for a third season, keeping the comic gabbing through 2005.
"I'm delighted that ABC has exhausted all other options and picked up mine for another year," said Kimmel in a statement poking fun at late-night rival Jay Leno's recent retirement announcement. "In 2006 I'll be 38 years old, and I promised Mavis I would take her out for dinner before I turned 40."
The ABC rookie show pick-ups are the latest this season. NBC has ordered up full seasons of Joey and Medical Investigation, the WB has extended Jack & Bobby for the year, and Fox plans to bring back Quints and North Shore, which premiered in June. CBS is also expected to commit to a full season of its own fall rookie success, the Gary Sinise starrer CSI: NY, but no official announcement has been made.