‘Geek,’ ‘Crumbs’ join Thursday party

Reality skein up 38% in adults 18-34 vs. last June

While NBC’s new comedy lineup revved it up in week two, a busy Thursday night also saw a very good start for the second season of the WB’s “Beauty and the Geek.” And ABC has to be pleased with good sampling for its comedy “Crumbs.”

CBS aired repeats of its usually dominant lineup, enabling other nets to rise up with fresh programming — and, with the exception of Fox, they did. NBC prevailed on the night overall, with “The Office” hitting more highs.

The biggest story of the night, though, was the second-season start for the WB’s “Beauty and the Geek” (2.3 rating/6 share in adults 18-49, 4.95 million viewers overall), which was up 38% in adults 18-34 vs. its series debut last June (2.9/8 to 2.1/6), according to Nielsen. In several categories, it built on its firstrun “Smallville” lead-in (2.4/6 in 18-49, 5.45m).

“Beauty” logged the best 18-34 score and largest overall aud for the WB in the Thursday-at-9 hour since “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” in January 2003. It ranked third for its hour in persons 12-34 (3.1/9, tied with Fox) and males 12-34 (2.7/8).

Elsewhere, ABC’s 90-minute “Dancing With the Stars” (4.6/12 in 18-49, 17.36m) was on par with the prior week’s two-hour season debut, placing second to NBC in demos. That led into the new comedy “Crumbs” (3.6/9, 11.81m), starring Jane Curtin and Ben Savage, which ran third in 18-49 and second in total viewers.

More significant for ABC than any retention figure of “Crumbs” coming out of “Dancing” was that viewers sampled one of its comedies. With virtually no comedy hits, the net has been forced to use nonscripted programs to give new laffers an adequate lead-in. An ABC comedy hasn’t topped a 3.6 rating in 13 weeks (“Freddie”).

And to illustrate how tough it’s been for ABC to get into the scripted game on Thursday, the 3.6 rating for the “Crumbs” premiere reps the net’s best showing with a comedy or drama in the time period since an episode of “Cracker” in October 1997.

It was also a great night for NBC’s comedy block, which started off with season highs for a live episode of “Will & Grace” (4.4/12 in 18-49, 9.69m) and a slight build at 8:30 for week two of “Four Kings” (4.5/12, 9.12m).

“My Name Is Earl” (5.9/14 in 18-49, 12.49m) was the demo leader at 9. “The Office” (series-high 5.1/12 in 18-49, 10.27m) followed with more good retention levels (86% in 18-49, 94% in 18-34), and easily beat ABC’s “Crumbs” in all under-55 categories.

Overall, no regular four-comedy block has scored higher in 18-49 than NBC’s on Thursday (5.0 rating) since the CBS Monday lineup in November 2004 (5.2). Of course, the Peacock did this opposite less-than-usual numbers for CBS, which aired repeats of “CSI: Miami” and “CSI” from 8 to 10.

Fox’s revamped sked didn’t look so hot, with “That ’70s Show” at 8 (2.4/7 in 18-49, 5.07m) getting trampled by “Will & Grace.” And at 9, “The OC” (2.5/6, 5.13m) may have done better than other recent shows in the hour for Fox but was a distant fourth in 18-49.

Of note on Friday was a winning perf for a special hourlong “Dancing With the Stars” results show at 8 (prelim 3.3/10 in 18-49, 13.7 million). Net’s new drama “In Justice” (prelim 2.6/7, 8.7 million) fell to third in the 9 o’clock hour, though, lagging NBC’s “Dateline” in its new slot (prelim 3.0/8, 9.8 million) and CBS drama “Close to Home” (prelim 2.9/8, 11.1 million).

And at 10, new Peacock drama “The Book of Daniel” placed a distant third (2.2/6 in 18-49, 7 million) and was down from its premiere, well behind CBS’ “Numbers” (3.7/11, 12.8 million) and ABC’s “20/20” (3.3/9, 9.9 million), the latter of which hit a season high, according to Nielsen prelims.

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