Year’s bows that wowed

'Stars,' 'Deal' hit the ground running

HOLLYWOOD — There was no game-changer among this season’s most impressive rookies, but a pair of surprisingly successful unscripted skeins top the list.

With an honorable mention to Fox’s “Unanimous,” which did well enough behind “American Idol,” here are the year’s top 10 newbies:

10) “Supernatural” (WB) — In an otherwise bleak final year of development for the Frog, this spooky hour averaged a 1.6 rating in adults 18-49 and a 1.7 in adults 18-34. It got better mileage when skedded behind the more similarly themed “Smallville” on Thursday, a combo that will continue on the new CW.

9) “Everybody Hates Chris” (UPN) — This likable laffer based on the childhood of Chris Rock opened very well (3.2 rating in week 1) but began performing more like typical UPN laffers near the end of the season. Still, its 1.7 rating in 18-49 opposite tough competish on Thursday made it a keeper.

8) “Bones” (Fox) — On a net with serialized dramas, it helps to have a procedural like this forensics hour that repeats well. Skewing fairly young (a 9 share in 18-34 as well as 18-49 and 25-54), it proved a solid addition to the lineup, playing well in several slots.

7) “Prison Break” (Fox) — A serialized tale of one brother trying to bust out another from prison became the No. 1 new drama of the season among adults 18-34 (4.4/12) and averaged a good 4.1/10 in 18-49. Alongside “24” down the stretch, it made for one of the most thrilling drama pairings in memory.

6) “The Unit” (CBS) — This midseason military action series from David Mamet and “The Shield’s” Shawn Ryan was a perfect fit with “NCIS,” giving CBS a viable alternative to Fox on Tuesday.

Key to its success was attracting a large 35-plus male aud that doesn’t watch much series television. It ends the season as the No. 1 new drama in both 25-54 (5.8/13) and total viewers (15.5 million).

5) “Ghost Whisperer” (CBS) — This cross between “Medium” and “Touched by an Angel” attracted a large female audience as well as a fair-sized family crowd. It helped make the Eye’s Friday the most improved night on television for any network.

The Jennifer Love Hewitt starrer averaged a 10 share in 18-49, a 12 share in 25-54 and a 14 share in women 25-54 — the latter delivery the best for any new drama this season.

4) “Criminal Minds” (CBS) — Critics weren’t thrilled when the Eye rolled out yet another crime procedural last fall, but this whydunit proved a solid alternative to ABC’s “Lost.”

Overall, it averaged a 3.7/9 in 18-49 and a 4.9/11 in adults 25-54, ranking second in the latter among all new dramas.

3) “My Name Is Earl” (NBC) — This Jason Lee skein got off to a hot start last fall and may have ranked No. 1 if not for a softening down the stretch. Still, it finishes as the No. 2 comedy in 18-49 (4.9/12) and the No. 1 new scripted program in 18-34 (4.6/13).

2) “Deal or No Deal” (NBC) — Who would have thought Howie Mandel imploring models to “open the case” would be the hottest thing going on the Peacock? While the rest of the NBC sked pulled less than a 9 share in 18-49, the nearly 40 hours of this oddly appealing show did a 13.

Net is resting “Deal” in the summer, but expect to see a lot of it next fall.

1) “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC) — After launching to good numbers last summer, this skein’s second edition scored impressive averages on Thursday opposite “Survivor” and “CSI” (a 5.0/13 in 18-49).

It finished as the season’s highest-rated newbie in women 25-54 (8.6/18), with its concluding episode drawing the largest overall aud for a reality show finale (except “American Idol”) in two years (27.1 million).

And a new generation was ready to rumba.

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