Eye dramas finish strong

Many viewers who had abandoned “Will & Grace” in recent years turned up Thursday for the show’s finale, which helped give the Peacock a rare victory on a night it once owned.

NBC captured the final Thursday of the season in key demos behind “Will” and the best score in a year for “ER.” CBS remained strong with “CSI” and “Without a Trace,” and Fox’s “That ’70s Show” logged its grooviest numbers in two years with its finale.

The final link to NBC’s recent glorious comedy past, “Will & Grace” averaged a first-place 8.4 rating/21 share in adults 18-49 and drew 18.43 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen — the show’s best numbers since April 2004 and more than double the rating for its penultimate seg a week earlier (3.6/11 in 18-49).

“Will” won the 9 o’clock hour in 18-49 and most key female demos and provided a strong lead-in for “ER” (7.1/19 in 18-49, 16.56m), which wrapped season 12 with its best delivery since May 2005.

“ER” scored a rare victory in 18-49 (as well as 25-54) over CBS drama “Without a Trace” (6.0/16 in 18-49, 19.81m), which nonetheless had its best numbers in two months and again easily led the slot in total viewers.

“CSI’s” season finale (8.3/20 in 18-49, 25.40m) won the 9 o’clock hour over NBC’s “Will” in 25-54 (10.5/24) and total viewers, and the crime drama ends the season as the most-watched scripted program on television for a fourth straight season.

Overall for the night, NBC topped CBS in 18-49 (6.9 to 6.0) and 25-54 (7.8 to 7.7), with the Eye still dominating in total viewers (19.7 million to 16.0 million).

Despite the strong closing week, NBC lost considerable ground to CBS on Thursdays again this season. The Eye, though down a bit itself in regular programming on the night, held a commanding 51% advantage over the second-place Peacock this season in 18-49 (6.8 to 4.5) and 67% in 25-54 (8.5 to 5.1), according to Nielsen.

At Fox, “That ’70s Show” — like “Will,” calling it quits after its eighth season — showed some spunk with its hourlong finale. The 8:30 half-hour logged the show’s best Nielsens (4.7/14 in 18-49, 10.02m) in two years and was more than 50% higher than the prior week’s score (3.0/9 in 18-49).

” ’70s” placed second for its hour to a “Will & Grace” clip show on NBC (5.3/16 in 18-49, 12.91m), which logged the net’s strongest demo delivery in the hour since January 2005.

ABC’s “American Inventor,” which debuted well in March, limped to a finish Thursday (fourth-place 2.4/6 in 18-49, 6.59m). Fox’s season-ender of “The OC” beat it in demos to place third (3.0/7 in 18-49, 6.40m).

The Alphabet fared better on Friday, placing a close second to CBS in 18-49 (prelim 2.5 to 2.6) thanks to the special off-night two-hour season finale of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (prelim 2.3/8 in 18-49, 7.6 million) and “20/20″ (prelim 2.8/9, 8.0 million).

Wrapping its 17th season, “Videos” became the Alphabet’s longest-running entertainment series, topping “The Lawrence Welk Show.” Skein returns on the Alphabet’s fall sked in its usual Sunday 7 p.m. slot.

CBS won Friday, paced by the slot-leading “Numbers” at 10 (prelim 3.4/11 in 18-49, 12.5 million). Fox captured Saturday in demos with “Cops” and “America’s Most Wanted.”

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