Eight of last week's 10 most watched programs were rerun episodes of "self-contained" series -- ones in which the story line is resolved each week by the end of the episode -- as opposed to "serialized" shows, in which stories carry over from week to week. Broadcast network suits have ordered a slew of new serialized drama series for fall. And all those hot new reality series that were supposed to solve their summer-rerun ratings blues -- like filling in for serialized dramas that don't repeat well -- continued to collect at the bottom of the ratings pile.
Here's a look at the week's top and bottom:
"Hell's Kitchen." The only non-rerun in last week's Top 10 list was also the only reality series in last week's Top 10 list. After the final broadcast of this series nearly cracked 9 million viewers last week, Fox announced it had ordered another season of the culinary boot camp starring Head Chef Screamer Guy.
"The Girls Next Door"/"Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive." Two new reality series -- the first about Hugh Hefner's latest bevy of bunnies, the second about a bunch of trust-funders on a cattle drive, increased E!'s performance in their time periods by more than 100 percent in their Sunday debuts. "Girls" averaged 990,000 viewers while "Cattle" attracted a crowd of 816,000. Let's put those numbers in perspective: The much-ballyhooed debut of Rita Cosby's new MSNBC show this past Monday averaged 665,000 viewers.
"Law Firm." Turns out any idiot can't make a successful reality TV series. David E. Kelley, who a couple of years ago famously ranted against the genre ("I believe there are studio executives and network heads out there who would rather make a show with an Aaron Sorkin than have lunch with the next contestant on 'How to Marry a Terrorist,' but those voices have gone silent for now," he said, among other things), tried his hand at the genre with this show, in which pretty, young, real lawyers compete while trying actual cases in front of real judges and juries. After it hacked up a sickly 4 million viewers in NBC's once-formidable Thursday 9 p.m. hour, the network put "Law Firm" out of its misery; remaining episodes will be buried in NBC's cable cemetery, Bravo.
"The Cut." This so-you-want-to-be-a-fashion-designer reality series clocked a pathetic 3 million viewers last Friday at 9 -- CBS's smallest audience on record in the time period. The network has tried to foist this reality series on viewers in three different time slots, each time with no luck because, no matter where it airs, it still stars Tommy Hilfiger.
The week's 10 most watched programs, in order, were: CBS's "CSI," "Without a Trace," "CSI: Miami," "Two and a Half Men" and "NCIS"; NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"; Fox's "Hell's Kitchen"; CBS's Sunday movie "Deep Impact," and "Cold Case"; and NBC's "Law & Order."