Most series take dips over holiday frame

The Thanksgiving holiday made for strange syndication ratings the week ended Dec. 1, which included the final three days of the November sweeps, according to Nielsen.

Most syndicated series suffered the holiday blues, and many shows dropped a point or two from their weekly averages. However, a few series bucked the trend. Twentieth TV’s off-net “Married … With Children” (3.7), MTM’s off-net hour “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (1.8), Universal TV’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” (4.6), Worldvision’s “Judge Judy” (1.9), Rysher’s “Strange Universe” (1.3), and Columbia TriStar Television Distribution’s “The Dating/Newlywed Hour” (1.9) all hit season highs.

While “Married” surged 16% for the week, it was the only one of the top nine off-net sitcoms to improve. Buena Vista TV’s “Home Improvement” sank 11%, to a 9.5, losing 5% from the comparable week a year ago. CTTD’s veteran “Seinfeld” fell 5%, to a 7.7, a 1% year-to-year loss, and its frosh strip “Mad About You” dropped 4%, to 4.6.

Twentieth TV’s “The Simpsons” fell 9% for the week and 4% from this period last year to 6.4. Carsey-Werner’s “Roseanne” fell 9% for the week to a 3.1, which was off a dramatic 45% from last year. Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s newcomer “Martin” dipped 15% and hit a season low, while WBDTD’s new “Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper” was flat at 2.1.

Talk is cheap

Among the talk pack, King World’s “Oprah” and Twentieth TV’s “Gordon Elliott” nose-dived, with “Gordon” hitting a new low for the season. “Oprah” fell 28%, the biggest drop of the week, to a still-first-place 7.5. That was off 10% from last year. “Gordon” slipped 13% to a season low of 1.3, which was 35% behind its year-ago rating.

Buena Vista TV’s “Live With Regis & Kathie Lee” gained 2% for the week to a 4.7, up 2% from last year. Universal’s “Sally Jessy Raphael” jumped 10% to a season high of 4.6, which was a full 24% better than last year’s 3.7. WBDTD’s “Rosie O’Donnell” was flat at its best-yet 4.5, tying Paramount Domestic TV’s “Montel Williams,” which also was flat for the week, but up 15% from last year.

WBDTD’s “Jenny Jones” slid 11%, to 3.9, tumbling 22% from last year. CTTD’s “Ricki Lake” was flat at 3.6, off 20% year-to-year. Universal’s “Jerry Springer” rose 12% for the week to 2.8, still off 10% year-to-year, and Tribune’s “Geraldo” dropped 5% for the week and 28% for the year, to a 1.8.

Warner Bros.’ new talker “In Person With Maureen O’Boyle” was flat at 1.5, but it beat one veteran: King World’s “Rolonda,” also flat at 1.4. ACI’s “Scoop With Sam & Dorothy,” whose cancellation is expected, upticked one-tenth, to a 0.6.

Reality strips generally were shielded from the Thanksgiving doldrums. All but one, MGM’s “LAPD,” increased for the week. Twentieth TV’s “Cops” rose 7%, to a new high of 3.1, but fell 26% from last year. Par’s “Real TV” rose 4%, to a 2.9, tying its best-ever number. It was also the highest-rated new firstrun strip in adults 18-49. Twentieth TV’s “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol” climbed 5%, to a 2.1, but was off a whopping 43% from its year-ago number.

Among gameshows, “Dating/Newlywed” was the only show to grow, adding 12% for the week. Trib’s “Bzzz!” dropped 6%, to a 1.6. King World’s “Wheel of Fortune” (11.2) lost 8% for the week and 15% for the year, while “Jeopardy!” (9.1) sank 15% for the week and 14% for the year.

Only one magazine show improved for the week, King World’s “American Journal,” which climbed 3%, to a 3.0, which was still off 21% from last year. Par’s “Entertainment Tonight” (6.3) led the group and was the only mag to jump from its metered-market lead-in, despite losing 6% for the week and 13% for the year. King World’s “Inside Edition” (4.9) had the worst year-to-year mag loss of 22%, in part because of poorer clearances.

Universal TV’s “Xena: Warrior Princess” led the weekly pack, staying at its season best of 6.3 for a second week. That’s a 7% increase over last year. Universal’s “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” fell 3%, to a 6.2, which was up 11% over last season. Par’s “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” dropped 14%, to a third-place 6.9.

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