‘Monk’ sanctuary for gains

New skeins drawing big ratings for basic cable

NEW YORK — The USA Network, already crowing about its hit Sunday-night original series “The Dead Zone,” seems to have caught lightning in a bottle for the second time with “Monk,” which scored in its second week with 4.1 million viewers.

On Friday, more people watched “Monk” — starring Tony Shalhoub as a detective who’s riddled with phobias — than any other show on basic cable that night, which was also true for the show’s debut two-hour episode on July 12.

That episode averaged 4.76 million viewers for the two hours, but the second-week decline was well within the usual acceptable falloff following a high-rated premiere.

The average rating of the two initial weeks is 115% higher than that of the movies that ran in the time period on USA for the previous six weeks, 134% higher in adults 25-54 (USA’s main demographic target) and 115% higher in adults 18-49, Madison Avenue’s favorite demo.

And “Dead Zone” keeps climbing in the metered-market overnight Nielsens.

On Sunday at 10 p.m., “Dead Zone” shot up to a 4.5 rating in cable homes in the overnights, compared with a 4.2 in the previous week’s overnights and a 3.9 on July 7.

When the full national Nielsen ratings come in today, the numbers for “Dead Zone” will probably drop somewhat. But after five weeks on the network, “Dead Zone” is harvesting better average ratings than any other scripted series in the history of basic cable.

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