‘Dr. Quinn’ is good medicine for CBS

CBS may have found the right prescription for Saturday with the new in-house hour “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” which rang in New Year’s night with a 28 share opposite college football and converted that introduction into a healthy win in its regular 8 p.m. Saturday slot.

ABC, meanwhile, easily got the best of the bowling-for-ratings game with its prime time Sugar Bowl telecast, as the national championship showdown between Miami and Alabama brought down a 16.4 rating, 27 share in Nielsen overnight markets, compared to a mere 4.1/7 for the Florida State-Nebraska Orange Bowl on NBC.

By contrast, the two games were evenly matched last year, with NBC (pitting Nebraska against Miami) drawing an 11.0/18 in Nielsen national figures and the Sugar Bowl (Notre Dame-Florida) hauling down a 10.8/18.

ABC benefited from the national title implications of its game as well as a strong lead-in from the tight Rose Bowl, which led into the Sugar Bowl with a strong 28 share for its sole half-hour in prime time.

NBC, in fact, got drubbed throughout the weekend, including its Orange Bowl parade coverage on New Year’s Eve and one-hour “Spinal Tap” special, which drew a dismal 7 share.

As for CBS, the network ran a competitive second on New Year’s with the two-hour premiere of “Dr. Quinn” followed by a special “Picket Fences,” capitalizing on female viewers looking for an escape from football.

The more encouraging news came Saturday, however, as the Jane Seymour drama drew a 25 share to easily win its hour, with Fox Broadcasting Co.’s “Cops” (a 16 share) the nearest competition.

If the “Dr. Quinn” numbers hold up nationally, it would be this season’s highest share for any regular series on any network Saturday night.

The rest of CBS’ new Saturday lineup couldn’t maintain the prosperity, with actioner “Raven” quoting a 15 share at 9 p.m. while “The Hat Squad” dipped to a 12 share to close the night, losing to “The Commish” and a “Dame Edna” special.

Still, CBS may have something to build on with “Medicine Woman”–originally scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Saturdays in the fall but delayed when the web chose to shelve the new series “Frannie’s Turn” and “Angel Street” and add a movie slot.

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