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The TV Column: Lisa de Moraes on the week's winners and losers

GOOD BAIT: Discovery's "Deadliest Catch," with late captain Phil Harris, landed a whopping audience for its season opener.
GOOD BAIT: Discovery's "Deadliest Catch," with late captain Phil Harris, landed a whopping audience for its season opener. (Blair Bunting/discovery Channel Via Getty Images)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fox's "American Idol" performance show squeaked past ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" performance show in the ratings last week, by just 77,000 viewers. (And both got beat by "Idol's" results night because it featured a performance by last year's "Idol" non-winner Adam Lambert.)

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Here's a look at the week's highs and lows:

WINNERS

"Deadliest Catch." Death becomes Discovery's crab-fishing reality series, the sixth-season debut of which caught the show's biggest haul ever -- 4.6 million viewers. The episode featured captain Phil Harris, who died in February, after the sixth season was filmed.

"Curb Your Enthusiasm." Given that, one month ago, Larry David told a Los Angeles theater filled with adoring fans that he was working on "some stuff" for an eighth season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," it came as no surprise when HBO announced Tuesday it had renewed David's comedy series. The pay cable network ordered 10 more episodes, which brings the grand total to 80; the show has already been sold into syndication, including to WDCW in Washington, which tentatively plans to launch it on Monday, Sept. 13, at 10:30 p.m.

"Parenthood." With the parameter for success at NBC now set at "show a pulse," it made sense for the network to announce Tuesday it would bring back this '80s-flick remake for next season. Sure, the one-hour Lauren Graham vehicle is clocking under 8 million viewers, but that's still heaps better than Jay Leno was doing in the Tuesday-at-10 time slot earlier this season. And "Parenthood" actually beat an original episode of CBS's "The Good Wife" among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers broadcasters sell to Madison Avenue.

Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert. Days after TBS announced it had signed Conan O'Brien to take on Comedy Central's pair of late-night shows at 11 p.m., Comedy Central announced it had re-upped the two -- "The Colbert Report" through the end of 2012 and Stewart's "The Daily Show" though mid-'13. To beat Stewart, Conan must best "The Daily Show's" average 1.8 million viewers this TV season and "The Colbert Report's" 1.2 mil.

"Glee." Nearly 14 million caught Tuesday's return of "Glee," culminating in a creep-tastic Madonna video remake in which Jane Lynch played the Material Girl (ick, ick, ick). Better yet, "Glee" was the week's No. 1-ranked show among 18-to-34-year-old viewers who are to advertisers what Lolita was to Humbert Humbert. Yes, that means "Glee" beat "Idol" in that age bracket.

"Cops." Fox has renewed "Cops." For a 23rd season.

LOSERS

"Damages." This past Monday's season -- and possibly series -- finale of Glenn Close's Scenery-Chewing Master Class logged just 906,000 viewers. Right around the time the numbers came out, the network, FX, successfully distracted The Reporters Who Cover Television with a bright shiny object, announcing that "Rescue Me" would return for its penultimate season June 29, paired with new comedy series "Louie."

"Life." What Discovery Channel, Oprah Winfrey-narrated, 11-part series opened with an audience of 6.1 million -- besting "Planet Earth's" premiere audience of 5.7 million three years earlier -- but wrapped up with just 3.8 million still watching -- way behind "Planet Earth's" closing crowd of 5.6 million? That's "Life"!

"Ugly Betty." The bad news: The series finale aired Wednesday. The good news: It scored "Betty's" biggest audience of the season. More bad news: That "biggest audience" was just 5.4 million viewers.

"John King USA." One day after CNN put its stars onstage to show them off to advertisers during its upfront presentation at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, one of those stars suffered his smallest audience yet on his new show -- 314,000 viewers.

"Human Target." Fox's new action-drama wound up its first season and just 7.2 million tuned in. That's only slightly better than the show's smallest-ever crowd of 6.8 million. It might have done better had it followed the "American Idol" results show on Wednesdays at 9, rather than airing before "Idol" at 8. Too bad Fox didn't think "Idol" could stand the strain of the earlier time slot.


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