The earthquake that rocked Southern California had little impact on syndicated shows during the week ended Jan. 23, with a number of strips posting record or season highs with reduced four-day averages in the Nielsen national barter rankings.

Two new syndie strips got off to weak starts, however.

“Rolanda,” King World’s “Les Brown” talkshow replacement, posted a 2.3 rating on 99 stations covering 82% of he country — slightly below the 2.5 the already canceled “Brown” show scored earlier in January.

And Tribune Entertainment’s new Joan Rivers show, which replaced none other than “The Joan Rivers Show,” also had a tough go of it.

“Can We Shop?” went on sale at a 1.2 on 133 stations with 90% coverage — about on par with “Rivers’ ” performance at the end of its syndie run. The new home-shopping program’s ultimate success or failure will depend as much on sales receipts as ratings, however.

Quake destroys Monday

Most other shows scored big during the week, although many were forced to delete Jan. 17 from their five-day averages because of widespread quake preemptions. Weekly series were also hard hit by preemptions resulting from the football playoffs.

KW’s “Wheel of Fortune Weekend” dropped 9% to 9.5, Paramount’s “Deep Space Nine” beamed down 11% to 8.0 and Buena Vista TV’s “The Crusaders” fell 12% from a record high of 5.8 the previous week to 5.1 (still the rookie newsmag’s second-best showing).

But Par’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” proved to be a notable exception, with the series rocketing 21% ahead of the previous week’s mark to 11.9. It was the best gain of any top-10 series.

Among strips, Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” had the largest gain of any top- 10 series during the week and led a strong magazine group with an entertaining 14% increase to 9.7. It was the only newsmag to count all five days in its average.

KW’s “Inside Edition” gained 9% to a season-high average of 8.8, while Par’s “Hard Copy” jumped 8% to a record 8.1. “Copy” had never broken the 8 rating barrier before.

Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” rose 4% to 7.4 and KW’s frosh strip “American Journal” bobb-it-ed up 6% to a record high of 5.1 — its third consecutive week of personal-best ratings.

Talking low numbers

In latenight, meanwhile, Par’s “Arsenio Hall Show” dived 15% to 2.0 — one of its lowest ratings ever — while Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh” (predominantly cleared in latenight) more than doubled “Arsenio’s” ratings with an 8% gain to 4 .2.

Every daytime and early fringe chatshow gained during the week, with Columbia’s “Ricki Lake” the biggest gainer. The talker leaped 19% to an all-time high of 3.8 and a 4.0 gross audience average, which takes into account duplicated viewing over two runs of the same episode.

The 4.0 mark represents an 111% increase since the series premiered in September, which, according to Col, would make “Ricki” the fastest-growing talkshow ever (leader “Oprah Winfrey” was 61% up over its premiere at this point in its first season).

Berry up

Twentieth TV’s “Bertice Berry” walked away with the second-largest gain, up 17% to 3.0.

Trib’s “Geraldo” marked a season high with a 2% gain to 4.6, its fourth consecutive weekly increase, while Viacom’s “Montel Williams” soared 24% to a record high of 4.1.

Among off-net series, Twentieth TV’s “Cops” sped to a record 6.2, up 3% from the previous week.

In the kiddie arena, the Fox Children’s Network’s non-syndicated weekday animated fare continued to lead in households, kids ages 2-11 and the 6-17 “tween” crowd.

“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” remained the top-rated show with a 7.7 in the 2-11 group, while “Animaniacs” led the 6-17 category with a 6.6.

Among syndicated series, Buena Vista TV’s “Bonkers” led with a 6.2 rating in kids and a 4.7 in “tweens.”

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