Heroic bows for some net newbies

'Heroes,' 'Betty,' 'Jericho' impress in first month

As the season nears the one-month mark, four rookie shows have emerged from the pack to exhibit the promise of becoming long-running hits.

Unique concepts “Heroes” on NBC, “Ugly Betty” on ABC and “Jericho” on CBS have been the most impressive out of the gate. Each premiered with numbers that significantly improved upon their net’s previous showing in the time period, and they’ve also held up well in subsequent airings.

While these skeins have largely been self-starters, ABC has reason to be pleased with family drama “Brothers & Sisters,” which seems to be finding a loyal audience behind megahit “Desperate Housewives” on Sunday.

What hasn’t worked so far are a slew of shows with forgettable titles — “Smith,” “Vanished,” “Kidnapped,” “Standoff” and “Runaway” — that either confused or bored viewers. Or both.

“Smith” was dumped after just three airings, while NBC’s “Kidnapped” and Fox’s “Vanished” have been sent to the Siberia spot on the sked of their respective nets.

For ABC, there’s good news on Thursday, where “Ugly Betty” has gussied things up, and on Sunday, where “Brothers & Sisters” looks to be a nice addition to the family.

“Betty” placed second only to “Survivor” in its tough slot (4.7 average in 18-49), winning in female demos and making an ideal lead-in for “Grey’s Anatomy.” And “Brothers” has overcome its label as a “troubled show,” retaining a good-enough 62% of its “Desperate Housewives” lead-in to average a 5.5 rating through three weeks.

Auds aren’t showing a great deal of enthusiasm for the net’s other newbies — “Men in Trees,” “Help Me Help You” and “Six Degrees” — while it’s too early to tell about “The Nine,” which has done just OK in its two tries behind “Lost.”

Net may be considering cranking up production on a sudser like “Secrets of a Small Town” for Thursdays at 10, and can also turn to newsmag “Primetime” where needed.

All in all, ABC has to be pleased with its new and returning shows — and its first-place standing in 18-49.

For CBS, “Jericho” has averaged a 3.4 rating in 18-49 in a Wednesday hour where it was scoring a 2.6 a year ago. It also seems to be a better fit for its “Criminal Minds” lead-out.

Net’s highest-profile new shows, Monday laffer “The Class” and Thursday drama “Shark,” have underwhelmed but aren’t going anywhere — especially since the Eye is strong across the sked.

CBS is a solid No. 2 to ABC in 18-49 and the leader in 25-54 and total viewers.

At NBC, while “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” has been lackluster (4.1 average), “Heroes” has emerged the top new show (5.8 rating). It has delivered great numbers among both men and women, and in all key age categories.

“Friday Night Lights” is struggling after its two airings (2.5 rating) and will need to improve soon or it won’t be around much longer.

Peacock is up about 15% vs. the same weeks a year ago, with “Sunday Night Football” (6.4 rating) driving the gains.

Fourth-place Fox has gotten little production out of its rookies, with hostage drama “Standoff” delivering the best numbers (3.3 rating) by virtue of following “House.” Net is giving “Justice” a shot on Monday, and holds out hope comedy “‘Til Death” can improve on Thursday.

And at the CW, auds have found former UPN staples “America’s Next Top Model” and “WWE Smackdown,” but ratings are down for the WB’s returning shows.

The net’s new drama “Runaway” hasn’t done much, averaging less than a 1 rating in its two Monday airings before shifting to Sunday nights.

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