Angus T. Jones, Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer, TWO AND A HALF MEN

Matt Hoyle/CBS / Warner Brothers

It sorta wasn't fair.

The first night of the fall TV season was overshadowed, overpowered and otherwise overwhelmed by the start of the Ashton Kutcher era on Two and a Half Men.

Here's a rundown of Monday's key ratings hits—and misses:


Two and a Half Men (27.8 million viewers, per estimates): Is the sitcom going to outdraw the Emmys, the Grammys and some American Idol finales every week? Uh, probably not. But a win's a win—as a certain professed winner and former star of the series himself would have to agree.

2 Broke Girls (19.2 million viewers): Is the freshman comedy going to make like NCIS every week? Uh, probably not. (It's not even going to air after Two and a Half Men every week.) But a super-sized premiere's a super-sized premiere. 


How I Met Your Mother (11.3 million viewers and 12.2 million viewers): Were people extra-anxious to see Kutcher in the buff, or were they extra-anxious to see this comedy resolve its spring cliffhanger? Either way, this show, which, mind you, aired before, not after, Two and a Half Men, scored its biggest-ever premiere. By a lot.  

Castle (13.6 million viewers): The ABC show's biggest season premiere ever—impressive. The ABC show's biggest season premiere ever on a ridiculously huge night for CBS—even more impressive. 


Dancing With the Stars (18.6 million viewers): On a normal night, this probably would've been the No. 1 show. But it wasn't a normal night, and, perhaps accordingly, its rating among the demograhically desirable was the franchise's worst-ever for a fall premiere. So, what do we have here: An outright rejection of the cast, or a mere hiccup? Too soon to tell.


The Playboy Club (5 million viewers): Well, it wanted to be Mad Men, and it got Mad Men-sized ratings... (OK, yes, it got  bigger-than-Mad Men ratings, but, really, not that much bigger.) One question: Is Pan Am getting nervous? 


Hawaii Five 5-0 (12 million viewers): It was the only CBS show that wasn't ridiculously huge, but still… Not a bad start to its sophomore season.

Hell's Kitchen finale (5.9 million viewers) and The Sing-Off premiere (5.2 million viewers): Among those series run over by CBS' comedy lineup, the former got less run over than the latter, especially in the 18-49 demo.

Not enough ratings for you? Want more? You're in luck. Nielsen's standings for the final week of the summer are also out today. The highlights:

Up All Night: Only early-bird premiere to crack the broadcast Top 10. (It finished in eighth.)

America's Got Talent: Its two-part season finale took the No. 3 and 4 spots, and outranked the Emmys (eighth place).

The Vampire Diaries: Highest-ranking CW premiere (77th place).

Same old, same old: Jersey Shore was the No. 1 cable series, with The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles and iCarly close behind. 


UPDATE: Two and a Half Men's huge premiere was significantly, well, huge-r than Nielsen initially let on. Final numbers out this afternoon show the episode was watched by nearly 29 million. Holy cow.

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