While conservative watchdog groups ranted about last week's debut of "Action" on Fox and the moral decay of America, far more viewers watched the premiere of wholesome "Judging Amy" on week-winning CBS. What's wrong with this picture?
Here's a look at the week's ins and outs:
"Judging Amy." Sunday's sneak peek at CBS's new touchy-feely chick drama was the week's second most watched show, behind only ABC's Monday football. "Amy" bagged 19.6 million viewers in the "Touched by an Angel" time slot. That's equal to the season debut of "Touched" in the same slot last September--when that show had already achieved hit status. "Amy's" big draw was among loyal "Touched" fans--age 55 and older.
The Weather Channel. A nightmare for everyone else, Hurricane Floyd was a godsend for the Weather Channel. At any given moment in prime time last week, an average of 1.1 million people were tracking the storm on the cable channel--up 268 percent compared with the same week a year ago.
"Everybody Loves Raymond." Emmys schmemmys. One night after the CBS sitcom got shut out at the Primetime Emmy trophy show, two episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (part of a four-"Raymond" lineup) crushed comedy series Emmy winner "Ally McBeal" by about 5 million viewers in the Monday 9-10 p.m. hour. "Raymond" also beat "Ally" among the age 18-49 audience.
Monday Night Football. The season debut--back at its 9 p.m. start time--scored 23.1 million viewers. That's the franchise's best debut since September '95.
NBC's Tuesday. With reruns, the peacock network pulled off its biggest Tuesday audience since last March--beating all of its May sweeps Tuesdays. Of course, NBC's new Tuesday sitcom "The Mike O'Malley Show" hadn't debuted yet last Tuesday.
NBC's Thursday. Rerun season finales of "Friends," "Frasier" and "ER" scored each show's best summer number, sending all three back into the weekly Top 10 list.
"WWF Smackdown!" Faux wrestling nailed its biggest audience yet on UPN and the fledgling network's best Thursday numbers ever.
"American Express Central Park in Blue." That's gotta hurt when an advertiser has its name so prominently affixed to a ratings dog. Winner of the week's worst-named program was also Fox's lousiest performer in the Tuesday 9 p.m. hour since May 11, 1993--back when most people didn't even know Fox was on Tuesday nights.
"Action." The Top 10 hit among young men and No. 22 of 112 programs for the week among adults 18-49 was of too little interest to anyone else, especially given all the buzz leading up to this sitcom's Thursday unveiling last week. It finished a so-so 48th for the week in total viewers.
"Mad About You." "Bored With It" is more like it. Nobody cared about the series all last season; why would they come to watch a rerun of its swan song? Its audience of 5.7 million was NBC's smallest in the Sunday 8 p.m. hour in about four years.
Miss America. Saturday's Miss America derby was the second least watched broadcast in the pageant's history, topping only last year's broadcast by about 1.3 million viewers. But it earned ABC its highest Saturday delivery in over 18 months, and with it ABC posted a rare Saturday win. Thursday's behind-the-scenes special was no ratings-getter, losing about 3 million viewers off its lead-in show and ranking No. 84 for the week.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order: ABC's "Monday Night Football"; CBS's "Judging Amy"; NBC's "Frasier"; CBS's "60 Minutes"; NBC's "Friends"; ABC's Miss America Pageant"; NBC's "ER"; CBS's Sunday movie "Sealed With a Kiss," the Monday 9 p.m. "Everybody Loves Raymond" and the 8:30 p.m. "Raymond."
CAPTION: Amy Brenneman as the jurist in CBS's new "Judging Amy."