You know how in the land of the pygmies the 5-foot-tall man is king? Two weeks before the start of the TV season, NBC debuted many of its series and, when it finished at the top of the heap for the week, declared its early-launch strategy a success.

Here's a look at the week's big and small:


"Joey." The debut of NBC's "Friends" spinoff scored a smaller audience -- 18.6 million viewers -- than had any "Friends" season debut in the same time slot over that sitcom's 10-year run. But "Joey" was nonetheless the most watched program last week.

"Medical Investigation." NBC's procedural medical mystery enjoyed a premiere in the plum "ER" Thursday time slot, where it copped nearly 12 million viewers. Far more important to NBC, when the show moved to its regular Friday 10 p.m. berth the next night, it hung on to 92 percent of its Thursday audience, clocking nearly 11 million viewers, even though CBS lobbed in a "CSI" rerun in an effort to nuke "MI."

"Real World Philadelphia." The 15th season debut of this aged reality series logged 3.3 million viewers. "Real World San Diego" bagged a much bigger crowd of 4 million in January, but last week's kickoff is on par with the Las Vegas edition's opening 3.2 million, Chicago's 3.7 million and New York '01's 2.6 million.


"The Apprentice." Are we weary of the Donald? The second edition of Donald Trump's NBC reality series opened with his smallest audience ever for a Thursday original episode -- 14.1 million viewers. Yes, it aired opposite football -- unusually stiff Thursday competition from ABC. But last year "The Apprentice" battled original episodes of CBS's "CSI," which packs a much bigger punch than football. Last week's "CSI" was a rerun.

"The Next Great Champ." Fox raced to get its knockoff of NBC's boxing competition series on the air first, and when executive producer Jeffrey Katzenberg tried to block that debut in court, Fox raised eyebrows by moving "Champ" into the same time slot as Katzenberg's other new NBC series, "Father of the Pride." Last week, "Pride" stomped on the debut of "Champ," which crumpled to the floor with just 5 million viewers to nearly 10 million for "Pride."

"Six Feet Under." Ratings rigor mortis is setting in at HBO's funereal soap, which wrapped its fourth season Sunday with an average of 3.7 million viewers -- its worst performance ever. Seasons 1-4 had logged 5.5 million viewers, 5.4 million and 4.8 million, respectively.

"In Search of the Partridge Family." Has America finally had enough of the Partridge Family? In its second week, this VH1 reality series, featuring former Partridges David Cassidy, Danny Bonaduce and Shirley Jones, logged 518,000 viewers. That's down slightly compared with its debut audience of 546,000, but a big drop seen next to the network's average of 600,000 viewers in the same Sunday time slot the four previous weeks with this and that.

The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: NBC's premiere of "Joey"; ABC's Thursday NFL football game; NBC's season debut of "The Apprentice"; CBS's "CSI" and "CSI: Miami" repeats; NBC's Thursday premiere of "Medical Investigation" and Wednesday "Law & Order" repeat; CBS's "Amazing Race 5"; NBC's Friday regular time-slot debut of "Medical Investigation"; and CBS's "Without a Trace" rerun.

NBC's "Joey," with Paulo Costanzo, left, Matt LeBlanc and Drea de Matteo, was a ratings winner, but nothing like "Friends." Meanwhile, the harsh reality for "The Apprentice," with Donald Trump, was that it opened with his smallest audience ever for a Thursday original episode.