James Franco, Anne Hathaway

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And now for something completely different…

We bring you the most encouraging sentence yet on the James Franco-Anne Hathaway show:

Nearly 38 million.

That's how many people the Franco- and Hathaway-hosted Oscar telecast averaged, final ratings released today show.

The number is up over yesterday's estimate of 37.6 million, and in the neighborhood of Jon Stewart's Crash year. It is still down (about 10 percent, or 3.6 million viewers) from the 2010 show, which was fueled by Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and, maybe most of all, Avatar.

Overall, the Oscars was easily the TV week's No. 1 show in total viewers and the 18-49 demo.

Now that that's out of the way, we hereby resume our carping and unsolicited advice-giving

Other TV ratings winners—and losers: 

• The red carpet: The 8 p.m. ET half-hour of ABC's arrivals special scored the show's biggest audience in four years (26.6 million), the network said. Likewise, E!'s two-hour Live From the Red Carpet averaged the biggest audience in that awards-show franchise's history (3.9 million).

• Franco and Hathaway: Sorry to go negative again, but if people are tuning in the pre-shows in record numbers, but (somewhat) tuning out the show itself, then something's off.   

Chuck: Did it get an Oscar bounce from Zachary Levi's charming performance on the telecast? It did not. Last night's show was down a touch from last week (5.3 million versus 5.5 million), prelim numbers show.

American Idol: Wednesday's regular ol' nail-biting episode ranked No. 2 in the demo, ahead of all of ABC's Oscar-night red-carpet specials. Not too shabby.

Community and Perfect Couples: The sitcoms lead off NBC's Thursday-night comedy block, but they get buried at the bottom of NBC's Friday-morning ratings releases. 

Two and a Half Men: What's more endless than Charlie Sheen's media blitz? The draw of his sitcom. Last night's rerun was, per usual, Monday's most-watched show (11.6 million).

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