‘Thunder’ crashes choppy syndie party

The two-hour premiere of Rysher Entertainment’s “Thunder in Paradise” roared into the Nielsen national syndication rankings with a 5.3 rating.

But its new weekly companion, Rysher’s “Robocop,” was downing some stiff lubricants after falling 22% from its two-hour debut mark of 5.3. The one-hour series could muster only a 4.2 in its second outing, according to barter rankings for the week ended March 27.

The only syndicated action shows ahead of “Thunder” were Paramount’s “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (dipping 2% to 9.6), “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” (up 19% to 8.8 for the biggest gain of any weekly), All American TV’s “Baywatch” (off 8% to 6.1) and the “Universal Action Pack” (declining 7% to 5.4.).

All American’s “Acapulco H.E.A.T.,” whose producers are reportedly looking for another distributor, dropped a frosty 21% to 2.6.

Overall, a number of shows suffered during the week because of college basketball preemptions, a March 24 presidential news conference in access and kids taking control of the tube over Easter vacation.

The biggest latenight casualty was Par’s “Arsenio Hall,” which slid 10% from the previous week to 1.9 — its lowest mark in recent memory — and Multimedia’s “Rush Limbaugh,” which slimmed down 5% to 3.9.

Among the new talkshows, only Twentieth TV’s “Bertice Berry” improved, rising 4% to 2.4.

Columbia TriStar’s “Ricki Lake” inched down 3% to 3.9, while King World’s “Rolonda” remained flat at its all-time low mark of 1.9.

Tribune’s “Can We Shop?” with Joan Rivers fell 22% to 0.7, earning its worst ratings ever.

Turning to the top talkers, KW’s “Oprah Winfrey” slipped 3% to 7.5, the show’s second-worst performance of the season. It has been experimenting over the past several weeks with more serious topics, which traditionally attract the program’s lowest ratings.

That, coupled with the end of the February sweeps, has sent “Oprah’s” numbers sliding 38% over the past five weeks from a high of 12.2.

Preemptions hurt Multimedia’s “Donahue” (4.4), “Sally Jessy Raphael” (4.3) and Trib’s “Geraldo” (3.4). All three either hit or matched season lows.

Par’s “Entertainment Tonight,” meanwhile, was the only newsmag to gain, rising 4% to 8.8. KW’s “Inside Edition” dipped 3% to 6.5, Par’s “Hard Copy” gave up 6% to 6.3 and Twentieth TV’s “A Current Affair” lost 8% to 5.9. KW’s “American Journal,” renewed for a second season, plunged 10% to 3.8.

Meanwhile, “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” continued to carry the Fox Children’s Network to an easy victory in the weekday animation race. The program took the top position among households, kids 2-11 and “tweens” 6-17.

FCN, which holds a big advantage over Buena Vista TV’s “Disney Afternoon” because weblet affiliates carry it as a single two-hour block in the highly viewed afternoon period, leads the syndicated Disney block by 1.4 points in the key kids demo group.

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