Crime drama rejuvenated by 'Mentalist' pairing

It’s not often that a show draws its largest audience in season six, but CBS drama “NCIS” did just that on Tuesday, as the vet seems rejuvenated this fall by being paired with hot rookie “The Mentalist.” Fox still led the night among young adults thanks to its own successful drama pairing, but CBS was a competitive second alongside NBC.

Also of note on Tuesday was NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” hitting a 10-month high thanks to an appearance by Sen. John McCain. The latenight series averaged a 4.9 household rating/12 share in Nielsen’s metered-market overnights — its best on a Tuesday since February 2007 and its highest on any night since Jan. 2 of this year when the show returned from its writers strike-dictated hiatus.

According to preliminary nationals from Nielsen, “NCIS” (4.0 rating/10 share in adults 18-49, 18.8 million viewers overall) logged its best demo score in about a year while drawing its largest overall aud to date — easily ruling as the night’s most-watched program. It led into “The Mentalist” (3.9/9 in 18-49, 16.5 million viewers overall), which matched or set series highs in various categories for a second straight telecast. “Without a Trace” closed out the night for CBS with a second-place demo finish (2.7/7 in 18-49, 12.2 million viewers overall).

At Fox, “House” had another strong showing (5.5/14 in 18-49, 12.9 million viewers overall), roughly matching its in-season high in 18-49 and standing as the night’s top show in that category as well as adults 18-34 (5.3/15). Rookie drama “Fringe” fell off from there (3.9/9 in 18-49, 8.9 million viewers overall), but earned a share of the 18-49 lead in its competitive 9 o’clock hour.

NBC saw its two-hour “The Biggest Loser” hit a season-high (3.4/8 in 18-49 and 8.0 million viewers overall), edging out in younger demos its reality comeptition from ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” during the 9 o’clock hour. And the network moved to the lead in demos at 10 o’clock with “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (3.6/10 in 18-49, 9.4 million viewers overall), which was up a bit vs. its recent telecasts.

ABC opened with a fourth-place finish for its “Dancing With the Stars” recap show at 8 o’clock (2.1/5 in 18-49, 10.4 million viewers overall) and was much more competitive in the tight demo battle at 9 with its results edition (3.6/9 in 18-49, 16.5 million viewers overall). Closing out the night, “Eli Stone” again looked shaky in finishing third (1.9/5 in 18-49, 7.4 million viewers overall).

At CW, “90210” (1.4/4 in 18-49, 2.7 million viewers overall) was a bit low, while “Privileged” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 1.9 million viewers overall) was in line with its recent averages.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: Fox, 4.7/12; CBS and NBC, 3.5/9; ABC, 2.5/6; Univision, 1.6/4; CW, 1.1/3.

In total viewers: CBS, 15.8 million; ABC, 11.4 million; Fox, 10.9 million; NBC, 8.5 million; Univision, 4.1 million; CW, 2.3 million

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