Fish-out-of-water 'Life' scores boffo bow

Fox was the place to be Tuesday night at 8:30, as its “Green Acres”-esque reality skein “The Simple Life” bowed to boffo numbers.

On an unusually busy post-sweep night, NBC family comedy “The Tracy Morgan Show” also opened to solid numbers, but it was a tougher premiere for ABC drama “Line of Fire.” And at Bravo, “Celebrity Poker” is off to a decent start.

According to Nielsen, “The Simple Life” (5.9/16 in adults 18-49, 13.01 million viewers overall) dominated its half-hour in 18-49 as well as adults 18-34 (5.8/17), 25-54 (6.1/14) and teens (7.7/23). Aside from “The Simpsons,” this is Fox’s highest 18-49 rating for any series episode this season.

In addition to its strong across-the-board performance among various age groups, “Simple Life” delivered impressively balanced gender numbers. In the broad 18-49 demo, for example, it pulled a 16 share in men and a 15 in women.

Skein, which also aired Wednesday night and begins its regular Tuesday-only sked next week, is set to wrap Jan. 13, the week before “American Idol” returns. It features spoiled socialites Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in their fish-out-of-water adventures on the farm of an Arkansas family.

NBC’s “Tracy Morgan,” which stars the former “Saturday Night Live” star as a husband and father to two kids, delivered a second-place 4.1/12 in adults 18-49 and 9.88 million viewers overall with its 8 o’clock episode (it led its slot in key male demos) and then dipped a bit with a special second seg at 8:30 opposite “Simple Life” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 8.72m).

The 3.9 demo rating is the best comedy delivery this season for NBC in the 8 o’clock hour.

More ‘Morgan’

“Tracy” will get additional exposure on the NBC sked this week with an original episode Thursday at 8:30 and a repeat of the pilot Sunday at 8:30. Series will air regularly at 8 beginning Tuesday, with “Whoopi” shifting to 8:30.

At ABC, the Rod Lurie crime drama “Line of Fire” ran third at 10 (3.1/8 in adults 18-49, 9.37m), posting its best numbers in the men 25-54 demo (3.9/10). The critically praised skein is airing at least through January in place of “NYPD Blue” repeats.

Next week could be a key night for “Line of Fire”: ABC would like to see growth when it goes up against repeats of drama rivals “Law & Order: SVU” on NBC and “Judging Amy” on CBS.

On Tuesday, “SVU” dominated the hour (5.1/14 in 18-49, 13.65m) and CBS was more competitive than usual with the final hour of feature “Miss Congeniality.” For its two hours, the Sandra Bullock pic (3.8/10 in 18-49, 12.04m) gave the Eye its strongest 18-49 Tuesday showing in nine months.

Christmas classic

Also on the night, ABC’s airing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” ran a strong second from 8 to 9 in 18-49 (4.4/12, 11.22m), while a special firstrun “JAG” took the hour in total viewers (13.00m).

Fox topped the night in 18-49 (4.4/12), edging NBC (4.3/11). CBS led in total viewers (12.4 million).

At Bravo, “Celebrity Poker Showdown” bowed to the third best preem numbers in net history (0.8/2 in 18-49, 1.60m) — behind only last summer’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Boy Meets Boy.” Aud for the 9 o’clock skein, which featured Ben Affleck and David Schwimmer as players, was roughly 60% male.

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