Cloris Leachman, DWTS, Hayden Panettiere, Milo Ventimiglia, Heroes

ABC/ Kelsey McNeal; NBC/Adam Taylor

Those poor superheroes. They never had a chance against Cloris Leachman.

On the first night of the fall TV season, Dancing With the Stars' two-hour season opener ruled with 21.1 million viewers, per Nielsen Media Research estimates.

Dancing's success helped defeat Heroes, which recorded its least-watched season premiere ever.

The NBC show, now three seasons old, averaged 9.9 million for back-to-back new episodes. Last year, the show started off with 17 million viewers, thanks, in part, to NBC's plumping-up of the numbers with a special Saturday night repeat.

Even if NBC hadn't cooked last year's numbers, last night's numbers wouldn't have looked great in comparison. Heroes' unaltered second-season premiere scored about 14 million viewers—about 30 percent more people than tuned in last night.

Elsewhere, CBS' CSI: Miami (16.9 million), which launched its seventh season, pulled off that rarest of ratings feats—its numbers were better than a year ago (15.1 million).

If estimates hold, ABC's Dancing With the Stars will just about run even with last fall's opener (21.2 million). Most interesting, the show with the night's oldest star—that would be the cleavage-bearing 82-year-old Leachman—was the night's most-watched show among prized 18- to 49-year-olds.

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