NBC had the top six shows on TV last week but sank to second place, thanks to loser sitcoms on Monday and Wednesday. So CBS, buoyed by several strong new-series starts, inched ahead of the peacock network to snag first place in the second week of the new season, with an average of 13.2 million viewers to NBC's 13.1 million. Here's a look at the week's stars and black holes:
"ER." NBC execs breathed a collective sigh of relief as the sixth-season premiere of "ER" bagged 31.5 million viewers--on par with last season's debut, which means they may actually have stopped the bleeding on the Thursday drama.
"Everybody Loves Raymond." The CBS sitcom beat "Monday Night Football" for the first time ever.
"Judging Amy." Premiere Week, viewers went for ABC's "Once and Again" on Tuesday at 10 p.m. Last week, however, they opted for this CBS chick drama.
"That '70s Show." After the show's lackluster freshman season, Tuesday's season debut was a surprise winner, snagging a Fox record high in its slot with regular series programming. In the same time slot, ABC's "It's Like, You Know . . ." wilted, with its smallest audience ever.
"Dharma and Greg." Recovering from a sorry season start the previous week, "Dharma" won its second match with NBC's "Will & Grace" on Tuesday.
"Stark Raving Mad" was spared when it held on to a solid 90 percent of its "Frasier" lead-in among the 18-49 crowd NBC covets--vs. only 77 percent in its ignominious premiere the previous week.
"West Wing." The White House drama handed NBC its first win in the Wednesday 9 p.m. time slot with regular programming in nearly a year, and catapulted "Law & Order" to another record high. But "West Wing" lost 20 percent of its premiere audience's 18- to 49-year-olds--so it's still awaiting its full-season pickup.
"Charmed." Its season debut in its new Thursday 9 p.m. slot scored WB's biggest audience ever there.
"Road Rage." The Yasmine Bleeth tour de force snared 40 percent more viewers than NBC's movie the same night last year, giving the peacock a rare Sunday movie win over CBS.
"Animal Farm." Robert Halmi's remake of George Orwell's classic scored 5.2 million viewers in its Sunday debut, making it the No. 5 cable show for the week.
"Garth Brooks in . . . The Life of Chris Gaines." Garth, honey, there is no Chris Gaines. He's just a strange little man running around in your head. Your fans don't want to see you work out your "I need to be a rock star and have more hair and less baby fat" thing on TV, sweetie--about half your usual NBC fans just said "ick" and stayed away Wednesday night. What you need is a comfy couch and a shrink, pookie, not a prime-time special.
"Suddenly Susan." New cast members, new story--and its least watched episode ever. It's over, guys.
"Mike O'Malley." The season's first cancellation, after hanging on to only 65 percent of its lead-in audience Tuesday night.
"Ally." Ally Lite finished a weak fourth in its Tuesday 8 p.m. premiere, nearly 1 million viewers shy of the "Ally McBeal" rerun crowd on Monday.
ABC's Friday. ABC overhauled its Friday schedule after "The Hughleys" and "Boy Meets World" packed in their tiniest audiences ever for non-rerun episodes. Now, "Boy" kicks off the night at 8 and "The Hughleys" airs at 9:30.
"Cold Feet" got the cold shoulder from viewers in its premiere. Its audience of 7.5 million is NBC's smallest in the Friday 10 p.m. time slot with non-rerun programming since March '97.
"Headliners & Legends." In its first week on MSNBC, the Matt Lauer-hosted show lost about 40 percent of its audience from Monday to Friday, and finished with about a third fewer viewers than the "Time & Again" average in the time slot last year.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order: NBC's "ER," "Frasier," "Friends," "Stark Raving Mad," "Law & Order" and "Jesse"; ABC's "Monday Night Football"; and CBS's "Everybody Loves Raymond," "60 Minutes" and "JAG."