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For CBS, a November to Remember

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, November 24, 2004; Page C07

For the first time in nearly two decades, CBS is going to win the November ratings sweepstakes among the 18-to-49-year-olds advertisers covet. Last week the network mopped up thanks to the 100th episode of "CSI," the first episode of "Amazing Race 6" and the final episode of two-parter "Category 6: Day of Destruction."

Here's a look at the week's hills and vales:


William Petersen of "CSI": Strong evidence of a hit. (Robert Voets -- CBS)

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WINNERS

"CSI." CBS's kinky crime drama marked its 100th episode with a story line in which the crack CSI team investigated the brutal stabbing and mutilation of a transgender woman, leading the team, CBS said, "into the fringe world of sex changes and transgenders." Naturally the episode scored the series's biggest audience ever -- nearly 32 million viewers -- and became the most watched broadcast of any kind so far this season, beating even Game 7 of the Yankees-Red Sox baseball playoffs.

"Desperate Housewives." ABC hit pay dirt when its "Desperate Housewives" promo on "Monday Night Football" outraged sanctimonious sportswriters and conservative media watchdog groups, whose collective howling resulted in record young-viewer numbers for the series six nights later. That included its largest audience ever among women 18 to 34 -- nearly a third of the available audience in that demographic group. "Desperate" was the week's No. 1 show among 18-to-34-year-olds. In the broader 18-to-49 demographic, the show topped its combined competition -- NBC, CBS, Fox and WB -- by 22 percent.

"Category 6: Day of Destruction." Actually two nights of destruction, starting two Sundays ago when the first half of CBS's special-effects extravaganza scored more than 19 million viewers. Part 2 logged nearly 17 million viewers, giving CBS its most watched Wednesday of the season to date.

"Amazing Race." The sixth edition of CBS's hurry-up-and-wait reality series premiered to 11.8 million viewers -- the franchise's biggest opening audience since the first edition in September '01.

"House." Fox's new doc drama built on its "Rebel Billionaire Weirdsmobile" lead-in by nearly 30 percent.

"Complete Savages." ABC's all-guys sitcom scored a best-yet 6.7 million viewers last week; the network gave it a full-season order.

"Biggest Loser." NBC's fat-farm competition -- this really is the Golden Age of Television -- clocked nearly 11 million viewers last week -- the network's best entertainment number in the Tuesday time slot in a year.

"The Wizard of Oz." TBS's gazillionth telecast of MGM's 65-year-old flick -- which is also the collective age of development suits at some networks -- was basic cable's No. 1 movie last week among the 18-to-34 set. In its Saturday 8-10 p.m. slot, "TWOZ" scored more viewers than did CBS.

Vibe awards. UPN's taped trophy telecast enjoyed nearly a million more viewers than last year thanks to a move from Friday to Tuesday night and advance publicity about a stabbing at the event. The Vibe awards ranked No. 1 among teens, marking UPN's best Tuesday teen delivery in more than three years.

LOSERS

"LAX." Say so long to NBC's campy airport drama after last week's ratings crash -- a worst-yet 6.3 million viewers.

"The Simple Life 2: Road Trip." Paris and Nicole's clip-job channeling Bing and Bob copped an anemic 5.6 million viewers -- a worst-ever for the "Simple Life" franchise.

"My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss." Down to 3.4 million viewers -- Fox's smallest Sunday audience for any original program during a TV season in at least 13 years.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI"; ABC's "Desperate Housewives"; CBS's "CSI: Miami," "Survivor: Vanuatu" and "Without a Trace"; NBC's "ER"; ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"; CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond"; ABC's "Lost"; and CBS's "Two and a Half Men."


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