Look! Down on the Ground! It's Heroes!

Vulnerable NBC show goes splat in fourth-season premiere; House huge on Monday night

By Joal Ryan Sep 22, 2009 7:17 PMTags
Zachary Quinto, Heroes 3.25: An Invisible ThreadNBC Photo: Trae Patton

What's wrong with Heroes? What's right with House? And how did The Big Bang Theory wind up with Neil Patrick Harris' Emmy bounce?

The answers—and more questions—in the latest TV ratings quiz:

1. How are the odds looking for a fifth season of Heroes? Not so great, after last night's fourth-season premiere ran last among the Big Four networks, with just 6 million viewers per preliminary Nielsen estimates. The show, already on thin ice with NBC, further botched its cause by helping bring Jay Leno down to his lowest numbers since the comic's 10 p.m. premiere. 

2. Why is House in a better place than House? Dr. House, as we learned in Monday's sixth-season opener, is regrouping at a psychiatric hospital. Fox's House is living large with 16.5 million premiere-night viewers, up almost 2 million from last fall.

3. What happened to The Big Bang Theory? It blew up Monday as CBS' top show among the demographically desirable. For the night, the geek comedy ran behind only House among cool people who used to watch Heroes

4. Wasn't Neil Patrick Harris' show supposed to get a bounce? How I Met Your Mother did fine, with 9.2 million viewers. But Harris' glowing Emmy reviews or no, The Big Bang Theory was able to do better, with 12.8 million viewers, in part because it now airs after Two and a Half Men (13.6 million).

5. Which CBS Monday night comedy have we not mentioned yet? Jenna Elfman's Accidentally on Purpose (9 million). It's the one some of you flipped over to during the half-hour between HIMYM and Two and a Half Men.  

6. Tom DeLay or Chace Crawford? ABC's Dancing With the Stars premiere enticed more young women last night than Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill did. Still, Dancing was down a lot from last fall (going from 21.1 million to 17.5 million) and was absolutely dominated by House in every important viewer group, save perhaps Texas' 22nd congressional district. 

7. Is President Obama trying to make Jay Leno look bad? Not on purpose, but Obama's appearance on last night's Late Show did help David Letterman destroy Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show—and finish ahead of prime-time Leno in the top TV markets, per CBS.

7. What do Americans do besides watch football? Think about watching football? TV's most-watched show of the week was NBC's Sunday Night Football (24.8 million). Cable's most-watched show of the week was ESPN's Monday Night Football (14 million). 

8. Does Miley Cyrus play football? Not professionally. But Disney's Hannah Montana (5.1 million) was cable's No. 4 show anyway. USA's Monk was the most-watched hour-long series (4.9 million).

9. When did Seinfeld go off the air? Judging by Sunday's premiere-night numbers for Curb Your Enthusiasm, featuring the vaunted Seinfeld cast reunion, a very long time ago. Curb averaged 1.1 million viewers. 

As an added bonus, here's a look at the 10 most-watched broadcast network premieres of the week ended Sunday—and a rundown of where they ranked overall. (Be prepared, Amy Poehler, not all the numbers are pretty.)

  1. The Jay Leno Show, 18.4 million viewers (3rd place)
  2. Survivor: Samoa, 11.7 million viewers (12th place)
  3. Bones, 10.4 million viewers (14th place)
  4. The Biggest Loser, 9.9 million viewers (15th place)
  5. The Office, 8.2 million viewers (19th place)
  6. Community, 7.9 million viewers (20th place)
  7. Fringe, 7.8 million viewers (21st place)
  8. Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday, 5.5 million viewers (41st place)
  9. Parks and Recreation, 4.9 million viewers (52nd place)
  10. Gossip Girl, 2.6 million viewers (94th place)