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Fox Sked Revamp Off To Good Start

Fox’s revamped Sunday lineup features something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. And, for the first week, the sked was an improvement over other recent attempts by Fox.

For something old, Fox went with repeats at 7 p.m. of “The Simpsons” and a return of “Get Smart” at 7:30. The former scored an uninspiring 5.1 rating, 8 share, but the latter looked relatively sharp for Fox in that time period with a 6.9/10.

Then, after a new “Simpsons” at 8 p.m. garnered a better-than-average 12.0/18, Fox turned to something new, up-and-coming comic John Leguizamo’s “House of Buggin’,” which grabbed a strong 10.3/15 in its debut. Veteran “Married … With Children” followed with 11.5/17 and then, at 9:30, Fox borrowed something blue from HBO: “Dream On,” which (without the nudity) sank to a disappointing 8.0/12 in its network premiere, maintaining only 70% of its lead-in.

While “Dream On” is already in trouble, the other two newcomers must prove themselves all over again in their second week, as CBS just learned … the hard way. CBS’ Wednesday night 8-9 p.m. block has long been a black hole down which an endless series of sitcoms has disappeared. So when the premiere of “Women of the House” was one of the brightest points in the major shuffling done by CBS and ABC last week, web execs must have finally uncrossed their fingers. But they did so a little too soon.

‘Women’ down

“Women of the House” plunged 24% to a fourth-place 9.0/14, even though the competition was noticeably weaker. If the web weren’t so desperate for help on Wednesday night, “Women” would clearly benefit from having an established lead-in. On Jan. 9, it earned a solid 13.4/20 in the 8:30 slot, holding 99% of its “Nanny” lead-in.

Unfortunately for CBS, which averaged a disastrous 8.2/13 for the night, the evening went downhill from there.

At 8:30, “Hearts Afire,” one of CBS’ three former Monday shows now on Wednesday, looks ready to be extinguished. The sitcom managed only a 7.8/12, 7% below its already disappointing season average.

The other newcomer, “Double Rush,” earned a dismal 6.9/10 at 9 p.m., 20% below its lackluster premiere. It was, however, the only time all evening that the web managed to escape last place.

‘Hearts’ ablaze

“Hearts Afire” is positively blazing compared to the other Monday sitcom, “Love & War,” which managed only a 6.2/10 on Jan. 11, more than a full rating point below its season average.

Finally, at 10 p.m., “Northern Exposure” (9.7/16) proved that reports of its demise have not really been exaggerated. However, “Exposure’s” loss is actually “Chicago Hope’s” gain, as CBS execs calculated by moving the younger, fresher show into the Monday 10 p.m. slot. In its second week, “Hope” grabbed a 14.4/23, an improvement of nearly a full rating point over the previous week. “Hope” did better than its lead-in, “Cybill” (14.3/22), although the replacement show performed respectably in its second week, holding 93% of its “Murphy Brown” lead-in.

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