Britney Spears, How I Met Your Mother

Monty Brinton / CBS

The curiosity of seeing the fully functioning Britney Spears has waned. But not nearly as much as the novelty of seeing the fully pumped stars of American Gladiators.

Last night's How I Met Your Mother, featuring a return appearance by the comeback-minded Spears, averaged 9 million viewers, Nielsen Media Research estimates showed today.

The number wasn't at all bad. It just wasn't the nearly 11 million viewers—a season high—who caught Spears' March debut on the CBS sitcom.

As for American Gladiators, it might want to consider joining a support group with Speed Racer, because both franchises have lost their mojo.

Gladiators' two-hour Monday season opener averaged fewer than 5 million viewers—the worst performance of the night by any show on the big four broadcast networks.

In January, the 1980s revival competition show kicked off its heralded, by NBC, prime-time return before about 12 million. Days later, the show was renewed for a second season.

Elsewhere, the proposal-popping season finale of ABC's Bachelor: London Calling was solid, and way up over last week (13.7 million), Fox's House (14.8 million) was sound, though still not as fit as its prestrike self, and ABC's Dancing With the Stars (18.6 million) was the king of the dance floor.

And on Mother, Spears' daffy receptionist bedded Neil Patrick Harris' cad.

So pretty much everybody got lucky except Hulk Hogan.

Monday's numbers will be reflected in next week's Nielsen rankings.

Here are ratings highlights from the TV week ended Sunday:

  • Wednesday's American Idol (first place, 22.9 million) beat Tuesday's American Idol (second place, 21.8 million), which beat everything else, but still recorded the show's all-time low for a performance episode featuring the Top 4 finalists (the show's first summer season, excluded).
  • How the snakes and rats have fallen: A Survivor season finale (13th place, 13 million) is now not much bigger than a regular old Hell's Kitchen (18th place, 11 million).
  • Ugly Betty (36th place, 7.98 million) got renewed by ABC.
  • Scrubs (65th place, 5.3 million) got picked up by ABC.
  • Women's Murder Club (35th place, 8 million) got canceled by ABC.
  • That was some 30 Rock season finale, not that you could tell by the numbers—64th place, 5.4 million.
  • House (12th place, 13.5 million) and Lost (19th place, 10.8 million) seem a little more like their old selves when you check the 18-to-49 rankings. Among young adult viewers, both shows are still top 10 hits.
  • A good omen for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? A Saturday night outing on USA for Raiders of the Lost Ark (5.6 million) was the biggest show in all of cable.
  • Aside from the NBA playoffs, other prime-time cable standouts were: The Hills (3.3 million); Top Chef (2.7 million); and CNN's primary-night coverage of the beginning of the end of the Democratic presidential campaign (3.1 million).

In the battle of the broadcast networks, CBS was No. 1 among total viewers, averaging 10.6 million; Fox was No. 1 among 18- to 49-year-olds; NBC was fortunate not to slip below the 6 million viewer mark overall.

In cable, TNT (2.9 million) and USA (2.8 million) were the top prime-time networks, outdrawing free TV's the CW (2.6 million).

Here's a look at the 10 most-watched broadcast network prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:

  1. American Idol (Wednesday), Fox, 22.9 million viewers
  2. American Idol (Tuesday), Fox, 21.8 million viewers
  3. Dancing With the Stars (Tuesday), ABC, 18.4 million viewers
  4. Dancing With the Stars (Monday), ABC, 18.1 million viewers
  5. CSI, CBS, 18.07 million viewers
  6. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 16 million viewers
  7. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 15.4 million viewers
  8. Without a Trace, CBS, 14.7 million viewers
  9. CSI: Miami, CBS, 14.1 million viewers
  10. NCIS, CBS, 14 million viewers
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