CBS Captures Top Spot Despite Mangy 'Pirate'
ABC Is Smiling Over 'Just for Laughs'; Kimmel's 'Set for Life' Is Anything But

By John Maynard
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 25, 2007

As the broadcast networks continue to throw everything against the wall this summer to see what sticks, ABC scored last week with a hidden-camera show but fell flat with an idiot-proof game show.

Karaoke-based reality shows that debuted on NBC and Fox a week earlier received votes of confidence; both are being renewed.

"Just for Laughs," in which hidden cameras capture people falling prey to various pranks (e.g., a driver pulled over by a cop who is wearing women's underwear), was ABC's best summer show debut since 2005. The 8 p.m. episode delivered nearly 8 million viewers; a second episode at 8:30 drew 8.6 million.

But the Jimmy Kimmel-hosted "Set for Life," which ABC admitted required no skill by contestants, managed just 4.1 million viewers Friday, finishing third in the 8 p.m. time slot.

The top-watched show for the second straight week was "The Singing Bee" (11 million viewers); NBC announced the show would continue in the fall.

Fox announced earlier this week that "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" has been picked up for 13 more episodes after averaging 7.4 million and 8.4 million Wednesday and Thursday last week.

CBS won the ratings race for the entire week, however, thanks to its reliable stable of reruns. But the network said Monday that it was giving the hook to "Pirate Master," a reality show created by Mark Burnett.

"Pirate" hit a low point last Tuesday, averaging only 4.4 million viewers. The remaining five episodes will be streamed on CBS's Web site.

Two other series ended their short and forgettable runs on television last week: ABC's "Traveler" bid farewell with only 4 million viewers watching, and Fox's "Standoff" limped off with a measly 2.9 million.

The Beckhams hit the American airwaves last week with mixed results. Last Monday's one-hour NBC special "Victoria Beckham: Coming to America" drew only 5.1 million viewers, but the show was tops among 18-to-49-year-olds in the 8 p.m. time slot.

Hubby David gave fledgling Major League Soccer its best ratings ever on ESPN or ESPN2. Saturday night's telecast of the Los Angeles Galaxy-Chelsea FC exhibition match drew 1.5 million viewers on ESPN.

Food Network also cooked up its highest ratings ever as 3.6 million people watched Sunday's season finale of "The Next Food Network Star," in which Amy Finley was crowned champion.

The week's top 10 shows, in order, were: NBC's "The Singing Bee," "America's Got Talent" and "Law & Order: SVU"; Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance"; CBS's "CSI" and "CSI: NY"; ABC's "Just for Laughs"; Fox's "Don't Forget the Lyrics"; CBS's "Shark"; and Fox's "Hell's Kitchen."

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