After two weeks of unusually high ratings, most syndicated shows headed south in the week leading into the sweeps.

Geraldo marches on

The only significant strip to show a gain in the Nielsen national barter rankings for the week ended Jan. 30, Tribune’s “Geraldo,” hit its highest ratings mark of the season.

The talker jumped 2% to a 4.7, its fifth consecutive weekly increase.

On the weekly side, the two-hour premiere of “TekWar,” the first of MCA TV’s ambitious new weekly primetime “Universal Action Pack” telepix, garnered a hefty 8.8 rating in 95% of the country.

That put it in second place behind the Paramount powerhouse “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (down 1% to an 11.8 rating in 99% of the U.S.).

And Warner Bros.’ new weekly series “Babylon 5″ got off to a strong start, scoring a 6.9 with 93% coverage, several notches behind Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (off 6% to a 7.5 in 99% of the country).

There was little else for syndicators to crow about during the week.

Par’s magazine “Entertainment Tonight” slipped 6% to 9.1, while King World’s newsmag leader “Inside Edition” fell 3% to 8.5.

The “E.T.” companion “Hard Copy” experienced the biggest drop in the tabloid newsmag category, down 5% to 7.7. But it still finished ahead of Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair,” which sank 4% to 7.1.

KW’s frosh strip “American Journal” dropped 4% to 4.9, while BVTV’s weekly “The Crusaders” declined 12% to a 4.5 after two record weeks because of a Super Bowl special preemption on the NBC-owned stations.

The biggest loser during the week in a weak talk group was Par’s “The Maury Povich Show,” which plummeted 21% to 4.1.

It also had the dubious distinction of being the worst performer of any major program in syndication.

Talkers flat

Elsewhere, Buena Vista TV’s “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” dove 17% to 4.8, while KW’s “The Oprah Winfrey Show” fell 16% to 9.0.

Multimedia’s “Donahue” decreased 15% to 5.6, Group W’s “Vicki!” sank 14% to 3 .0 and Twentieth TV’s “Bertice Berry” slid 13% to 2.6.

The list of casualties extended all the way down the list: Multimedia’s “Jerry Springer” was down 12% to 2.3, and that company’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” declined 10% to 5.3. WB’s “Jenny Jones” was off 10% to 2.8 and Viacom’s “Montel Williams” descended 10% to 3.7.

Columbia’s “Ricki Lake” tumbled 8% to 3.5, while KW’s newcomer “Rolonda” remained flat at 2.3, tied for last place with “Springer.”

The other mid-season entry, Trib’s Joan Rivers-hosted home shopping series “Can We Shop?,” was marked down 20% from its premiere number to a reduced 1.0.

The lights also went out in latenight, with Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh” deflating 12% to 3.7, while Par’s “Arsenio Hall”– which had been in reruns the previous week because of the earthquake — back with original episodes but remaining flat at a lowly 2.0 in 94% of the U.S.

Weeklies were also overwhelmingly weak over the Super Bowl weekend, with All American TV’s “Acapulco H.E.A.T.” cooling down 18% to 3.1; WB’s “Time Trax” taking a licking with a 16% drop to 4.1; Rysher’s “The Highlander” losing 15% to 3.9; Par’s “The Untouchables” dropping 15% to 3.9; and “Baywatch” sinking 12% to 4.5.

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