Sci-fi show tops night over 'NCIS' franchise

“V” has landed, and its initial Nielsens are out of this world.

ABC’s well-reviewed alien skein, a reimagining of the 1980s miniseries, bowed Tuesday to the best numbers for a new 8 p.m. drama since “Lost” in 2004.

Boosted by a strong marketing campaign and launched away from the clutter of other fall preems, “V” was Tuesday’s No. 1 program in demos, delivering a bigger number than any other new show this season.

The strong bow is the latest sign that auds are hungry for something that feels fresh. Sure, couldn’t-miss spinoffs like CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles” and Fox’s “The Cleveland Show” are clicking too, but arguably the season’s biggest splashes have been made by some of the riskier and more outre offerings.

This fall has already seen the hottest family comedy in years (ABC’s critically acclaimed single-camera “Modern Family”) as well as young-adult drama skeins fronted by vampires (CW’s “Vampire Diaries”) and glee club members (Fox’s “Glee”).

At the same time, most reality shows and procedural dramas — NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and CBS’ “NCIS” are the notable exceptions — are on the decline. This has freed up viewers, and they’ve apparently found some new faves.

Looking at the Tuesday numbers, Warner Bros. Television drama “V” averaged a hearty 5.2 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 14.30 million viewers overall — an 18-49 level attained in drama this season only by two shows (ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” and Fox’s “House”).

Numbers rep ABC’s best showing in the 8 p.m. timeslot in three years.

Although “V” is something of a brand commodity, a good chunk of the aud tuning in for ABC’s new version likely wasn’t familiar with NBC’s 1983 mini.

Ratings on Tuesday were solid across various age groups, with “V” winning not only in 18-49 but also in 25-54 (6.1/15) and persons 12-34 (3.7/11). It fared especially well among males, with its men 18-49 score (5.7/16) the net’s best in the timeslot in six years.

The sci-fi drama built a bit in its second half-hour, going from a 5.0 rating in 18-49 to a 5.3, and in total viewers from 14.1 million to 14.5 million.

“V” is only airing four episodes this fall before returning in the spring. Show stopped production last month and has a new showrunner (Daily Variety, Nov. 4), with shooting set to resume in January.

If “V” continues to look good this month, ABC will have another solid drama piece — along with the returning “Lost,” whose timeslot has yet to be announced — to add to its first-quarter 2010 sked.

Elsewhere Tuesday, the tougher competish from “V” slowed down Tuesday’s hot “NCIS” (4.3/11 in 18-49, 20.18m) and “Biggest Loser” (3.5/9, 9.11m) — but not entirely.

The Eye’s “NCIS” was the night’s most-watched show and combined with “NCIS: Los Angeles” (3.6/9, 15.29m) and “The Good Wife” (2.7/8, 12.74m) to give the net the nightly victory in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers. And the Peacock’s “Loser” was an 18-49 winner in its second hour (9-10 p.m.).

NBC’s “The Jay Leno Show” rose to a four-week Tuesday high (2.0/6 in 18-49, 5.96m), edging ABC’s “The Forgotten” (1.9/5, 7.27m) in 18-49.

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