CBS, Fox win night

Months later, reverberations from the writers strike continue to be felt across the primetime TV landscape.

Young shows held out of production by the work stoppage — and kept off the air for about nine months — are performing sluggishly in their return to action this fall.

Like NBC’s “Chuck” on Monday, ABC’s combo of “Pushing Daisies” and “Private Practice” opened softer than expected on Wednesday, with “Daisies” looking especially shaky.

The critically adored “Daisies” ranked fourth in its 8 o’clock hour, getting the night off to a slow start for the Alphabet, which tied NBC for a distant second-place finish to CBS. Last year at this time, ABC was winning Wednesdays in key demos with its rookie trio.

When the strike disrupted shooting schedules last winter, ABC made a decision not to rush back those shows on the air in the spring, opting to hold out until fall for a relaunch. But now, it looks to be a case of out of sight, out of mind for many of their fans.

NBC’s second season of “Chuck” got off to a slow start on Monday, one week after the net’s third-year drama “Heroes” — which too had been off the air for about nine months — was below par as well. Another well-rested NBC sophomore, “Life,” makes its regular-slot debut tonight.

According to Nielsen “live plus same day” estimates, “Pushing Daisies” (2.0 rating/6 share in adults 18-49, 6.33 million viewers overall) opened its second season with less than half of its series premiere score of a year ago; it also tumbled 23% from its average for its final four weeks of originals late last fall (2.6/8).

ABC had hoped the critical buzz surrounding it and its Emmy recognition would translate into a running start this season.

It didn’t happen though, as Fox’s “Bones” (3.2/9 in 18-49, 10.03m) was the clear winner in the hour, with NBC’s “Knight Rider” (2.4/7, 7.77m) holding up pretty well in its second week to place second.

CBS comedies “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (2.0/6 in 18-49, 6.80m) and rookie “Gary Unmarried” (2.2/6, 6.91m) were both off slightly in demos from their own modest bows of last week, while CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” (1.9/5, 4.03m) was again competitive in younger categories despite its own week-to-week decline.

CBS surged to the lead at 9 o’clock with “Criminal Minds” (3.9/10 in 18-49, 14.78m), which won out over its original drama competition from ABC’s “Private Practice” (3.3/8, 8.16m). The “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff, which opened pretty well in September ’07 before slipping some, was down a more modest 8% from its final-month average last fall (3.6/10).

“Practice,” the night’s top show in adults 18-34 (3.4/10), tied for second in 18-49 with the season finale of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” (3.3/8, 12.69m). Fox’s hour of ” ’Til Death” ran a weak fifth (average of 1.6/4 in 18-49, 4.3 million viewers overall for two new half-hours) — behind Bravo’s “Project Runway” (2.1/5, 4.01m).

Closing out the night was a strong performance from CBS drama “CSI: NY” (4.1/11 in 18-49, 14.88m), which was up a tick from its week-earlier premiere. It easily disposed of competing dramas “Dirty Sexy Money” on ABC (2.4/7 in 18-49, 7.02m) and “Lipstick Jungle” on NBC (2.0/5, 5.34m).

Second-place “Dirty,” the third of ABC’s Wednesday rookies of a year ago, was in line with its final-month average late last fall, while “Lipstick” lost 17% of its soft second-season premiere audience of last week.

The baseball playoffs, meanwhile, got off to a solid start on TBS, with the National League Divisional Series matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs averaging 5.38 million viewers from 6:30-9:50 p.m. ET. And the nightcap between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels, despite its late 10 p.m. ET start, drew 4.33 million.

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