Monday night brought us the return of two familiar TV faces (Jill Hennessy and Ellen DeGeneres) on two new shows (Crossing Jordan and The Ellen Show) and the sneaking suspicion that we've seen both of them before.

But despite the double déjà vu (and mixed reviews), only NBC's Crossing Jordan managed to make a real impression with viewers, in what marked the first real battles of the long-delayed fall TV season.

The crime drama, starring former Law & Order-er Hennessy as a sexy, mystery-solving medical examiner (think Quincy with nicer legs), pulled in an estimated 13.3 million viewers, topping CBS' Family Law for a promising 10 p.m. debut, according to preliminary Nielsen numbers.

The same, however, couldn't be said for the second coming (out) of DeGeneres, whose new CBS sitcom sank despite airing immediately after the premiere of reigning comedy champ Everybody Loves Raymond. While Raymond's 9 p.m. debut pulled in 22 million viewers (up 11 percent compared to last season's debut), the audience for Ellen's preview special dropped to 13.9 million. Things, of course, could change for DeGeneres once her sitcom moves to its normal home on Friday nights.

Also on Monday, NBC's very Brady version of Weakest Link (featuring the former cast of The Brady Bunch, including even long-lost Cousin Oliver) put a hurt on ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, drawing some 11.6 million viewers. And, in a performance that'll reassure your faith in the American public, Fox's latest game-show stunt, Who Wants to Be a Princess?, landed in a distant fourth place with 6.8 million viewers. The fairy tale is over.

In other premiere news, CBS yielded mixed results last week from two other new shows, The Amazing Race and Wolf Lake. Jerry Bruckheimer's new reality adventure held strong in its second Wednesday airing (10 million viewers), but the creepy Wolf Lake--starring Lou Diamond Phillips--averaged just 8.7 million to finish behind ABC's 20/20 and a repeat of NBC's Law & Order, according to Nielsen.

On Sunday, CBS scored decent grades with its new Richard Dreyfuss drama, The Education of Max Bickford. The grumpy college professor followed CBS' pro football coverage with 16.5 million viewers to win its time period. But it placed second in the advertiser-friendly adults 18-49 demographic, behind Fox's broadcast of Rush Hour.

ABC's The Practice also revved back to life Sunday, drawing 17.8 million viewers, according to final numbers--the largest audience ever for a season premiere of the legal drama, and the best performance of the week for any regular (non-news or telethon) programming.

All told, ABC topped its network competition for the week ended September 23, averaging 11.1 million viewers. CBS followed in second place with 10.5 million viewers, NBC was third with 9.8 million and Fox followed in fourth with 7.6 million. Among adults 18-49, NBC landed on top for the week, besting ABC with a 4.0 rating and 11 share.

Among the junior nets, UPN squashed the WB, averaging 4.3 million viewers to the Frog's 2.7 million.

Here's a rundown of the top 10 among total viewers:

1. NBC News--Bush Address Analysis (Thursday), NBC, 23.9 million viewers
2. NBC News Bush Analysis, NBC, 19 million
3. The Practice, ABC, 17.8 million
4. Friends, NBC, 17.6 million
5. The Education of Max Bickford, CBS, 16.5 million
6. 60 Minutes, CBS, 16.1 million
7. 60 Minutes II, CBS, 14.4 million
8. Miss America, ABC, 13.6 million
9. Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 12.95 million
10. Primetime Thursday, ABC, 12.93 million

(ORIGINALLY POSTED 9/25/01 at 3:00 p.m. PT)

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