Debut episode was second only to 'The Shield's' bow

The premiere of “Rescue Me” set the night ablaze for cabler FX, drawing 4.1 million viewers in the second best series premiere ever for the channel.

Created by and starring Denis Leary as a New York City firefighter, hourlong drama ranked as the No. 1 program on Wednesday night, catapulting FX to the top of primetime basic cable rankings.

For FX, debut of “Rescue Me” came second only to the record-setting bow of “The Shield,” which netted 4.8 million viewers in March 2002.

In the key adults 18-49 category, the 10 p.m. episode notched a 2.0 national rating/6 share and 2.5 million viewers — the third highest tally for a basic cable series premiere. “Rescue Me” also posted high marks in the men 18-34 (2.2/7) and men 18-49 (2.1/6) demos.

“It is really gratifying to get off to such a great start,” said FX entertainment prexy John Landgraf. Skein built impressively on its lead-in (“Independence Day”), which took in 2.4 million viewers (1.4 million in 18-49).

Combined Nielsens for the preem and its encore run at 11 p.m. totaled 5.6 million.

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