NBC, holding the right cards, grabbed an early lead in the November sweeps with its two-parter “The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.”

Through last Thursday, NBC had a 13.4 rating/22 share, CBS had a 12.5/20, ABC a 12.2/20 and Fox had an 8.4/13.

The Sunday (Nov. 3) portion of “Gambler” drew an 18.0/28. Its second night scored a solid 16.6/25 against “Monday Night Football” and CBS’s potent Monday line-up.

NBC also temporarily plugged up its black hole on Sundays at 8 p.m. with an extra episode of “Unsolved Mysteries,” which notched a respectable 11.1/16.

This month’s unofficial sweeps theme – “women wronged” – have garnered mixed results so far. On Sunday, CBS’s “The Rape of Dr. Willis” and ABC’s “False Arrest, Part 1” scored a 14.4/23 and an 11.5/18 respectively, below the webs’ season averages for their Sunday movies.

And while “False Arrest” redeemed itself in Part 2 on Wednesday with a 16.6/27, CBS struck out again on Tuesday with “Posing: Three Real Stories,” capturing only an 11.9/18.

The death of a cast member on Fox’s “Beverly Hills, 90210” lured in a 13.6/21, its best performance this season. This sparked Fox’s strongest night so far: A 12.5/19, topping third-place CBS by 1 1/2 points, and ABC by almost 4.

CBS was bolstered by “60 Minutes” on Nov. 6 – its 23.3/36 was the most impressive number of the sweeps period so far – and a strong 11.5/19 debut by “The Carol Burnett Show,” on Nov. 4. The show won both half-hours.

Another CBS pet project, “Brooklyn Bridge,” moved to Wednesdays at 8 p.m., where it scored only a 9.6/15 in an hour special.

Week 7

The closest three-way race of the season saw NBC winning for the second time, with a 12.9/21. CBS scored a 12.5/20 and ABC a 12.1/20. Fox finished at 7.3/12.

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