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The Show That Keeps Them Hanging On

"Wedding Bells" blues: KaDee Strickland, left, and Sherri Shepherd appear in the new show, whose premiere in its regular time slot took fifth place. (By Carin Baer -- Fox)

Bursting with "American Idol," Fox finally crawled atop the heap among young viewers for the season to date. And the same week NBC announced it will get you to watch reruns of its shows by gussying them up with additional footage (a.k.a. the stuff originally left in the editing room) and calling them "newpeats," CBS finished second with a rerun-laden lineup of shows people wanted to see a second time. Or maybe CBS's viewers are so old they've forgotten they saw the episode the first time around, as NBC might argue.

Here's a look at the week's peaks and valleys:


"Criminal Minds." Wednesdays at 9, CBS's perv-tastic crime drama scored more viewers than the premiere of David E. Kelley's "Wedding Bells" even though (a) "Criminal Minds" was a repeat; (b) "Wedding Bells" enjoyed an "American Idol" lead-in audience of nearly 30 million viewers, while "Jericho" contributed a mere 8 million lead-in to "CM"; and (c) the three female leads of "Wedding Bells" include a hot chick whereas "CM" stars Mandy Patinkin and smile-challenged Thomas Gibson. "Wedding Bells" did manage to outstrip "CM" among younger viewers, though not by as much as you'd think, given the "Idol" lead-in and the whole hot chick vs. Mandy Patinkin thing.

NBC's Monday. Network's screaming-at-briefcases series "Deal or No Deal" set a new high -- 18.4 million viewers, nearly 7 million more than the time slot's closest competitor, "Prison Break" on Fox.

"College Hill 4." BET reality series bagged 1.6 million viewers in its debut -- up 33 percent over last season's debut.

Anderson Cooper. The first to jump in to sub for Regis Philbin while the syndicated-show host has heart surgery, Cooper gets to strut his stuff in front of Reg's average crowd of nearly 5 million this season, compared with Anderson's average CNN crowd of 853,000.


"South Park." About four months after Michael Richards's slur-strewn meltdown at an L.A. comedy club, the "South Park" spring season-debut episode lampooning the incident, "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson," logged 2.8 million viewers. That's about 22 percent fewer than the average audience of 3.6 million who caught last year's spring opener in which Isaac Hayes's character, Chef, got bumped off.

"Wedding Bells." Considering its "American Idol" lead-in audience, the "Bells" debut on Wednesday lacked the "Yo factor" -- Fox said it outperformed by 9 percent the only other drama premiere that has ever led out of "Idol" (that would be "Point Pleasant" in January '05). Moved to its regular Friday time slot, a rerun of the "Bells" premiere plunged to fifth place among all viewers and young ones, too, behind even CW's "Smackdown!"

"Desperate Housewives." Sunday's repeat snagged 7.7 million viewers. Last season, the ABC dramedy's one and only March rerun averaged 13.5 million.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: Fox's Wednesday, Tuesday and Thursday "American Idol," "House" and "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"; NBC's Monday "Deal or No Deal"; CBS's "Without a Trace," "CSI" and "Cold Case"; and NBC's "Heroes."

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