Did Kirstie Alley Turn On—or Turn Off—Dancing With the Stars?

Season 12 kicks off, but TV ratings are down from previous spring

By Joal Ryan Mar 22, 2011 7:30 PMTags
DWTS, Kirstie Alley, Maksim ChmerkovskiyABC/ADAM LARKEY

Kirstie Alley's performance anchored the Dancing With the Stars season premiere.

So, even though Alley did pretty darn well on the dance floor, can she be blamed for bringing the show down, ratings-wise?

Nah. It's more fun to point fingers at Kate Gosselin.

Here's the deal: Monday's opener was down about 2 million viewers from last spring's.

But it wasn't a matter of people tuning out Alley (or anyone else) as much as it was a matter of people just not tuning in the show, relatively speaking. The show's first half-hour, featuring lead-off performer Chelsea Kane, averaged an estimated 19.6 million, down from the 22 million DWTS booked in the same time last year.

On the night, DWTS was No. 1, by a lot, averaging 22.3 million overall. The final half-hour, paced by Alley's showstopping cha-cha, was the show's second-most watched, after the kickin' 9 p.m. Ralph Macchio half-hour.

So, where does Gosselin figure into this? 

Last spring, the reality mom's awesome lack of dancing skill (and tabloid infamy) powered DWTS to a record premiere.

Lesson learned: You can't compete with a trainwreck.

Other TV ratings winners—and losers:

• Daylight Savings Time: Glee down from the previous week?! The Bachelor finale down from the previous spring?! An American Idol episode under 20 million viewers?! Take your extra hour of sunshine, Daylight Savings Time, and go leave poor, beleaguered network TV alone! 

Chuck: A barely-there number in the 18-49 demo; only 4.3 million viewers on the whole. If Chuck is supposed to be making a case for renewal, it didn't do so last night.

Harry's LawIt's 10 p.m. on a Monday, do you know where your grandparents are? Oma and Opa are watching this Kathy Bates AARP hit (17th place in the latest weekly rankings; 10.2 million viewers), so don't bother them!     

Bones: A Top 10 finish, with 11.6 million viewers. American Idol says you're welcome.