Columbia’s “Ricki Lake” bubbled to the top of the low-rated freshman talkshow class during the week ended Oct. 24, with its best performance yet in the Nielsen national syndication barter rankings.

“Lake” gained 9% to 2.4 from 2.2 the previous week, ahead of King World’s “Les Brown” (up 5% to 2.2 from 2.1) and Twentieth TV’s “Bertice Berry” (flat at 2.1).

Rysher TPE’s “Wavelength,” meanwhile, appears to be wavering near extinction. The talker-on-wheels plunged to its worst showing yet, with a 25% drop to 0.6 from 0.8.

In other chatshow developments, Warner Bros.’ “Jane Whitney Show” (1.9) finished at the bottom of the talkshow heap — unless one counts another one of the “J” talkshows, Tribune’s axed “Joan Rivers Show” (1.2).

“Jane” has been hurt by a lack of clearances in latenight, where it generally performs better than in daytime. Its low household ratings have spurred rumors the syndicator will cancel the show, but a WB spokesman said no determination will be made until the end of the November sweeps.

At the opposite end of the talk spectrum, KW’s “Oprah Winfrey Show” bounced back sharply, gaining 10% to 9.7 from last week’s depressed 8.8 mark.

Elsewhere in a week in which some syndie shows struck out against the World Series, the newsmag race continued to bring the most drama.

‘Copy’ ties ‘Affair’

Paramount’s “Hard Copy” remained tied with Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” for the second consecutive week, with both tabloid shows gaining 5% to 6.1 from 5.8.

KW’s “Inside Edition” turned in the top percentage gain in firstrun during the week, leaping 13% to 7.1 from 6.3. Its stable mate, KW’s new season entry “American Journal,” rose 3% to 3.8 from 3.7. Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” remained at the top of the newsmag heap, despite sliding 4% to 7.9 from 8.2.

Among others in the frosh class, Genesis Entertainment’s “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” clocked a 7% gain to 3.2 from 3.0.

But MTM’s kids show “Xuxa” continued to drift south of the border, flat at 0. 8.

Turning to off-net strips, Twentieth TV’s “Cops” fell 6% to 4.9 from 5.2, while in the comedy arena, WB’s “Family Matters” remained flat with 5.0. But its gross average rating, which takes into consideration Nielsen families who watch the same episode twice, jumped 7% to 6.0 from 5.6.

‘Nest’ not empty

This season’s other new off-net sitcom, Buena Vista TV’s “Empty Nest,” rose 3 % to 3.8 from 3.7 (a combined average for two separate runs).

In the weekly race, All American TV’s new weekly series “Acapulco H.E.A.T.” arrived on the chart — its first week’s ratings were reprocessed — with a lukewarm 35th place ranking of 3.3.

Cannell’s “Cobra” continued to improve, sinking its fangs into a 3.9 rating, up 11% from the previous week’s 3.5.

And last week’s star, Cannell’s “Renegade,” gave back about half of its gain, losing 11% to 4.7 from 5.3.

BVTV’s weekly newsmag “The Crusaders,” batting in many markets against the championship baseball series, remained at a 3.6 during the week, while BVTV’s “Countdown at the Neon Armadillo” sat this dance out with a 3% decline to 2.9 from 3.0.

The syndicated kidvid arena continued to be dominated by BVTV’s new strip “Bonkers” (2.9), while on the network front, the Fox Children’s Network’s new “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” continued to dominate the competition in the all-important kids 2-11 demographic for the fourth consecutive week.

“Power Rangers” earned a 6.6 in the category, followed by Fox’s “Animaniacs” (5.1), “Batman: The Animated Series” (5.1) and “Bonkers” (5.0).

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