Huge night for 'Smallville'

Four new shows bowed on the opening Tuesday of the season but it was a pair of returnees — NBC’s “Frasier” and the WB’s “Smallville” — that delivered the night’s jaw-dropping perfs.

The wedding of Niles and Daphne on “Frasier” boosted the comedy to its best ratings in nearly two years, while young-Superman drama “Smallville” opened its second season by soaring to all-time network records and topping all but NBC for its hour in key demos.

Halo effect of “Frasier” boosted the two new laffers on either side of it, “In-Laws” and “Hidden Hills,” to strong sampling numbers. CBS also got a solid tune-in for a special preview of its drama “Presidio Med,” but UPN’s “Haunted” came out of the gate slowly.

For the night, NBC won out in adults 18-49, CBS in total viewers. The WB led among persons 12-34.

ABC’s “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” meanwhile, held up very well in its second week, while leadout “Life With Bonnie” looked strong but not quite as impressive. Net, which won Tuesday in men 18-49 with its best rating since January, should challenge for the night’s 18-49 lead in upcoming weeks, as “According to Jim” rejoins the sked and “Bonnie” moves to 9.

As for the standout returning shows, “Smallville” averaged 8.66 million viewers and delivered the best ratings for any WB series on any night in adults 18-34 (5.2/14) and key male demos. It topped its series preem last fall by 16% and placed first or second in its hour in all key under-50 demos.

Frog’s strong ratings

“Smallville” teamed with the best season preem yet for “Gilmore Girls” (a series-record 3.4/10 in A18-34) to produce the Frog’s highest-rated Tuesday ever in all adult demos.

NBC’s “Frasier” saw its best scores (21.12m, 8.8/22 in A18-49) since October 2000, topping its two closest pursuers combined in key demos.

Leading out of “Frasier” was suburban-couples comedy “Hidden Hills,” which retained a pretty good 84% of its 18-49 lead-in (7.4/18 vs. 8.8/22) and won its half-hour. NBC Studios laffer delivered the net’s highest 18-49 series rating at 9:30 (other than “Frasier”) since January 2001 (“Three Sisters”).

From 8 to 9, NBC received startlingly different results from two segs of Paramount/NBC Studios comedy “In-Laws.” Laffer went from fourth in 18-49 in its regular 8 p.m. slot (3.3/10) to a first-place finish at 8:30 (4.6/12) — a jump of 39%.

The big improvement could have been linked to pre-“Frasier” tune-in, but may also reflect lesser comedy competish at 8:30 than 8. NBC will double-pump “In-Laws” again next week (delaying the season preem of “Just Shoot Me”), and a Peacock insider suggested a timeslot switch between the two laffers could be in the works.

‘JAG’ draws largest aud

Season preem of “JAG” led the way for CBS at 8 with a slot-leading 16.13 million viewers and a second-place 5.4/13 in adults 25-54. Net also saw a solid delivery for 9 p.m.’s “The Guardian,” which scored its best 18-49 rating (3.7/9) since last October.

And at 10, Warner Bros. medical drama “Presidio Med” averaged a second-place 12.79 million viewers and led its hour in women 25-54 (6.9/16). It moved to its regular slot Wednesday.

ABC has to be encouraged by the second-week hold of “8 Simple Rules,” which declined a moderate 18% in 18-49 and led its half-hour (5.0/15). “Life With Bonnie” dipped a bit more (25% to 4.5/12) but was in the hunt for the half-hour’s demo lead, retaining 90% of its “8 Simple Rules” 18-49 lead-in.

A “NYPD Blue” retro spec didn’t do much at 9, but the drama’s 10th season opener led at 10 in both 18-49 (5.3/14) and total viewers (13.17m).

Fox had a listless night, with its “Celebrity Daredevils” spec crashing at 9 (5.45m, 2.5/6 in 18-49) and 8:30 laffer “Grounded for Life” slipping to fourth in 18-49 (3.9/11). At 8, “That ’70s Show” was second (4.6/13).

UPN drama “Haunted,” from Viacom/CBS Prods., averaged 3.14 million viewers and retained just 63% of its “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” 18-34 lead-in (1.7/5 vs. 2.7/8).

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