With ABC's new dark comedy series "Desperate Housewives" scoring big numbers for a second consecutive week, it's only a matter of time before the other broadcast networks put out APBs seeking spec scripts about five families living on a picture-perfect suburban street. Because -- say it with me, class -- Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Television.

In its second telecast, ABC's new ray of ratings sunshine, which the network bought based on a spec script from sitcom writer Marc Cherry, scored a whopping --

We interrupt this column to bring you this breaking news report:

NBC is wrapping up talks to buy a spec script for a single-camera series about five families living on a suburban cul-de-sac, the trade paper the Hollywood Reporter reports.

Calling it "one of the most remarkable show comebacks" ever, THR writes that Todd Holland and John Riggi -- they worked together on HBO's "The Larry Sanders Show" and Holland also executive-produced Fox's short-lived "Wonderfalls" -- have dusted off their seven-year-old script and are in the process of selling it to the peacock network.

"The story of 'Five Houses' began in 1997," the trade paper begins. Holland said the two wrote the pilot in just a few days "out of love," based on their "collective communal-living experiences."

In the original pilot, a gay couple moves onto a suburban Los Angeles street. Fox ordered it as a pilot for fall '98, but alas, it was not to be.

The script has been reworked and now it's about a young couple from an Oklahoma town who are the newest additions to the cul-de-sac, THR writes, though there still will be a gay couple on the block.

We now return to the regularly scheduled column:

In its second telecast, "Desperate Housewives" clocked more than 20 million viewers, hanging on to 94 percent of its premiere audience.

It retained 98 percent of its premiere audience in the 18-to-49-year-old bracket, ABC noted, that being the group the network claims to target. Who are they kidding? ABC is thrilled anyone is watching the network on Sunday nights. It now has won the past three Sundays; the last time ABC won the first three Sundays of a new TV season was at least as far back as 1991 and maybe even further, but that's as far back as ABC's records go.

"Desperate Housewives" was the most watched program Sunday night, beating NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" by nearly 8 million viewers -- and by 93 percent in that golden demo. Best of all, among younger viewers, "Desperate Housewives" has widened its advantage over the No. 2 new series, CBS's "CSI: NY."

"Housewives" is also the No. 1 new series of the season.

A winning hand: From left, Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman in ABC's "Desperate Housewives," the season's top-rated new series.