'Link,' laffers clean up

One-hour season finales of its top two comedies boosted CBS to victory on the final Monday of the season, a night that also saw big numbers for a celebrity “Weakest Link” and a surprisingly tame finale for “Ally McBeal.”

It was a good night for the major nets, as every one except ABC was up in adults 18-49 vs. a year ago, while weblet the WB improved by a whopping 38%.

According to Nielsen, CBS prevailed by 1 share in adults 18-49 over second-place Fox and by about 700,000 viewers over NBC in total viewers. Net received winning perfs in adults 18-49 and 25-54 from both “King of Queens” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” but then barely held on for victory, as viewers fled the net’s “Family Law.”

“King of Queens” (5.5/15 in A18-49, 6.2/15 in A25-54) topped its tough hour, which included the season finale of Fox’s “Boston Public” (5.3/14 in A18-49), NBC’s “Crocodiles Hunter” spec (3.4/9) and a special seg of ABC’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (3.4/9). That led into “Raymond,” which wrapped its fifth and most successful season as the night’s top program (20.13 million, 7.6/18 in A18-49) with its strongest numbers since its one-hour season preem on Oct. 2.

Net went from a solid first place at 9:30 with “Raymond” to an uncompetitive third at 10 with “Family Law” (11.53m, 4.2/10 in A18-49). NBC’s “Third Watch” won the hour in the demo (5.6/14) with its best score since October, while the conclusion of ABC mini “Anne Frank” won in total viewers and was a close second in the demo.

“Third Watch” was the beneficiary of the first celeb edition of quizzer “Weakest Link,” which was a solid second in its hour in adults 18-49 (5.8/14). It’s NBC’s strongest in-season score in the hour since the May 1999 series finale of “Mad About You” and the first time since that night that NBC topped an original “Ally McBeal.”

“Ally” fell to third in its hour (5.5/13) despite the strongest lead-in from rookie drama “Boston Public

(5.3/14) since March 26. Auds may have found the first post-Robert Downey Jr. episode of “Ally” an anticlimactic finish to the season; his finale a week earlier produced a 6.8/17.

“Anne Frank” wrapped its two nights with an average of 14.14 million viewers and a 4.8/12 in A18-49 — second among the season’s minis to ABC’s “Me and My Shadows: My Life with Judy Garland” in February.

The WB’s “7th Heaven” was the night’s top show in females 12-34 (6.3/17) and improved on last year’s finale by 15% in 18-49 (to a 3.1/7). And at 9, “Roswell” grabbed the net’s largest aud in the hour (4.55m) in four months.

Updated May sweep standings in adults 18-49 with two nights to be counted: NBC, 5.1 rating/15 share (down 7% in rating vs. a year ago); Fox, 4.2/12 (up 2%); CBS, 4.0/11 (up 14%); ABC, 3.8/11 (down 28%).

In total viewers: CBS, 12.79m (up 7%); NBC, 12.03m (down 5%); ABC, 10.81m (down 28%); Fox, 8.75m (up 4%).

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