While CBS won last week among viewers of all ages and in the 18-to-49 demographic once ruled by NBC, ABC continues to be the new season's Cinderella story, on the backs of desperate housewives.
Here's a look at the week's highs and lows:
"Desperate Housewives." The No. 1 new series of the season averaged 20 million viewers in its second broadcast last week, retaining almost all of its premiere audience. "Desperate Housewives" has widened to 2.3 million viewers its lead over CBS's "CSI: NY," which everyone thought was going to be the No. 1 new series. Among young men, the ABC Sunday soap finished in third place, behind "Monday Night Football" and "CSI," beating every one of the week's baseball playoff games on Fox.
"Nip/Tuck." Guest-starring the oft-nipped Joan Rivers and telecast opposite the vice presidential debate, the season finale of FX's plastic surgery drama scored 5.2 million viewers Tuesday night -- a best ever for the show and FX's most watched episode of a scripted series ever.
"Extreme Makeover Home Edition." Last week's episode, in which the gang made over the house of a girl who is allergic to sunlight, was No. 1 among kids 2 to 11, scoring the show's biggest audience ever in that demographic. Fans of all ages numbered more than 15 million, which, with "Desperate Housewives," catapulted ABC into first place on Sunday night.
Political debates. Nearly 44 million people caught Tuesday's debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards -- the biggest audience for a veep debate since Democrat Al Gore, Republican Dan Quayle and Reform Party candidate James Stockdale squared off more than a decade ago. Three nights later, the second round between President Bush and John Kerry nabbed more than 46 million viewers -- nearly 10 million more than watched the second face-off in 2000.
CBS's Thursday. All three CBS Thursday series -- "Survivor," "CSI" and "Without a Trace" -- were among the five most watched programs last week.
Mark Cuban. The billionaire star of ABC's "Benefactor" whined on his Web log that his show scores lousy numbers -- such as last week's 4 million viewers -- because its Monday time slot is soooo tough (the show runs late or not at all in some time zones because "Monday Night Football" is live) and because TV critics don't spell this out every week, which may cause Nielsen homes to write it off as a loser show. Before you can say "It's not about the time slot, it's about your bangs," ABC slaps a "20/20" special on Christopher Reeve in Cuban's slot, with little promotion, and it clocks more than twice as many viewers as Cuban did last week.
"Hawaii." Last week the NBC cop drama scored a series-low 6.7 million viewers and finished fifth in its time slot among 18-to-49-year-olds -- behind even "America's Next Top Model" and "Smallville" and only a tenth of a ratings point ahead of "60 Minutes." NBC has pulled the show tonight, replacing it with a "Law & Order" repeat.
"Last Comic Standing." With just one episode to go -- the one in which the winner would be announced -- NBC pulled the plug on this competition series after it, too, finished fifth in its time slot among 18-to-49ers. The winner will be unveiled Saturday on Viacom-owned cable network Comedy Central.
"Inside the Actors Studio." Turns out just 515,000 people mistake J. Lo for a thespian and tuned in to the season debut of this Bravo series to hear James Lipton, America's Greatest Living Gasbag, quiz Jennifer Lopez about her acting "technique." Surprisingly, there were no clips of her days as a Fly Girl on "In Living Color" or from "Gigli."
"Enterprise." UPN chief Leslie Moonves said this struggling "Star Trek" franchise was being moved from Wednesdays to Fridays because the network has lower expectations for that night. Not sure if those expectations go as low as the 2.9 million viewers the season debut scored last week -- the series's smallest audience ever. About 4 million watched last season's opener.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI," "Without a Trace" and "CSI: Miami"; ABC's "Desperate Housewives"; CBS's "Survivor: Vanuatu" and "Everybody Loves Raymond"; NBC's "ER"; CBS's "CSI: NY"; ABC's "Lost"; and CBS's "Two and a Half Men."