Joey may be not be doin' much, but at least Joey Tribbiani had one good millennium.
The Night Stalker's monster-hunting Carl Kolchak, on the other hand, is picking up right where he left off in the 20th century:
Getting killed in the ratings.
In its premiere outing, per Nielsen Media Research, ABC's all-new Night Stalker (64th place, 7.1 million viewers) ran third in the 9-10 p.m., Thursday hour to CBS' top-rated CSI (first place, 28 million) and NBC's fading, Donald Trump-fronted Apprentice (35th place, 10.4 million).
Conditions are typically so bleak for ABC on Thursday, however, that the Night Stalker's bloodless debut actually was an upgrade over the likes of Push, Nevada. As the network was quick to point out, the mystery series was the network's most-watched show among coveted 18-to-49-year-old viewers in that time slot in more than five years. And as Fox was not quick to point out, it made Thursday rival Reunion (84th place, 4.6 million) look lousy by comparison.
Night Stalker is a new spin on The Night Stalker (also known as Kolchak: The Night Stalker), which itself was spinoff from a pair of TV movies.
The original Night Stalker, which also aired on ABC, starred Darren McGavin as vampire-killing newsman Carl Kolchak. Loved a lot by those who loved it, the show nonetheless was a stiff of the 1974-75 season, buried in the Nielsen race by Angie Dickinson and Police Woman.
The new Night Stalker stars Stuart Townsend as the reporter with a suspicious mind worthy of Fox Mulder. (X-Files creator Chris Carter regularly cited the McGavin Night Stalker as an inspiration.) In order to outdo the old show, the new show will have to hang around for at least 21 episodes. (McGavin's Night Stalker got the ax after 20.)
Alias, Night Stalker's Thursday night companion, also has a cursed legacy to overcome.
In its first outing in the 8-9 p.m. time slot--ABC's witching hour, bereft of a long-standing hit since Mork & Mindy--the spy series began its baby-on-board fifth season before 8.2 million (50th place). It topped NBC's Joey (58th place, 7.5 million) and Fox's The O.C. (68th place, 6.6 million), but was off 20 percent from last season.
Elsewhere in the TV week ended Sunday:CBS had five top 10 hits. ABC had four. NBC had Law & Order: SVU (10th place, 15.3 million). Desperate Housewives viewers in Los Angeles were muy disgustado when a cable TV provider broadcast much of Sunday's episode in Spanish. The goof affected about 175,000 households, but not the ABC's soap's dominance--second place, 27.1 million. Don't expect Dr. House to vote for Geena Davis after his Fox medical drama (17th place, 13.4 million) got shoved aside by the series premiere of ABC's Commander in Chief (ninth place, 16.4 million). NBC is "extremely encouraged" that it doesn't have to cancel My Name Is Earl (29th place, 11.4 million), and has ordered a full season's worth of episodes to celebrate. CBS' Two and a Half Men was supposed to be the next powerhouse sitcom. For those keeping score, a 15th place finish (14.4 million) is what passes for powerhouse these days. Ratings for the aired-live eighth-season opener of NBC's Will & Grace were kinda dead (40th place, 9.8 million), and yet the show still managed to rank as the second most-watched half-hour comedy among young viewers behind My Name Is Earl. Tuesday night is all right for ABC's Boston Legal (21st place, 12.4 million), enjoying a solid second-season premiere there after being evicted from Sunday by Grey's Anatomy (fifth place, 17.6 million). What a difference not airing after CSI makes: In its regular Wednesday home, CBS' Criminal Minds (33rd place, 10.6 million) was off nearly 50 percent from its Grissom-goosed premiere. The 16th-season opener of ABC's America's Funniest Home Videos (48th place, 8.4 million)...um, wait, 16th season opener--seriously? Amy Grant would be wise to use one of her Three Wishes (70th place, 6.3 million) to ask for more viewers for the NBC reality series. Martha Stewart's Apprentice (71st place, 6.1 million) has been chased from the 8-9 p.m. Wednesday slot by the young-female-viewer magnet that is Tyra Banks' America's Next Top Model (87th place, 4.5 million). Starting this week, Stewart's NBC show will be ignored in the 9-10 p.m. Wednesday slot. Everybody Hates Chris (74th place, 6 million) was down about 20 percent from its premiere, but still represented an overall up for the perky-looking UPN. (For the first two weeks of the season, its ratings are up 19 percent over last year.) Speaking of up, UPN's Veronica Mars started its second season before an all-time best 3.3 million viewers (102nd place). Speaking of down--way down--the seventh-season premiere of Fox's Malcolm in the Middle (100th place, 3.5 million) was the least-watched show on the four major networks. In order to nab 117th place (1.4 million viewers), UPN had to produce a whole new series (Sex, Love & Secrets). In order to secure 118th place (912,000 viewers), Pax merely had to dust off an old Diagnosis Murder.
Overall, CBS was the most watched network, averaging 12.6 million viewers; ABC was the network most watched by the demographically desirable.
ABC was second in total viewers (11.1 million), followed by NBC (9.1 million) and Fox (7.5 million).
Among the majors, Fox is showing the most improvement. When compared to its dismal 2004 fall launch, its so-so 2005 fall launch is up a whopping 35 percent in viewers. NBC is taking the biggest hit, down 7 percent so far this season from last.
UPN and the WB, meanwhile, are in a dogfight. Last week, the not-quite major networks tied in total viewers (3.5 million) and in the 18-49 demo.
Here's a look of the 10 most watched prime-time shows for the week ended Sunday, according to Nielsen Media Research:
1. CSI, CBS, 28 million viewers
2. Desperate Housewives, ABC, 27.1 million viewers
3. Lost, ABC, 23.2 million viewers
4. Without a Trace, CBS, 21 million viewers
5. Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 17.6 million viewers
6. CSI: Miami, CBS, 17.4 million viewers
7. Survivor: Guatemala, CBS, 17.3 million viewers
8. Cold Case, CBS, 16.7 million viewers
9. Commander in Chief, ABC, 16.4 million viewers
10. Law & Order: SVU, NBC, 15.3 million viewers