‘Murphy’ exits in style

Sitcom ends after 10-seasons with high marks

“Murphy Brown” has gone out with style, ending its 10-season run on CBS with its highest rating in nearly 20 months.

The farewell “Murphy” earned a 12.3 rating, 19 share, best for that series since Sept. 30, 1996, and good enough to propel CBS into the slot lead that hour with non-sports programming for the first time since last June.

Indicative of CBS’ demographic woes on the night, “Murphy” was still fourth for the hour in adults 18-49, and third in CBS’ target demo, adults 25-54.

ABC snagged the night in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos with “Creature, Part 2,” which bit off a 10.1/16 in households. That gives the Peter Benchley thriller a two-night 10.0/16 average, ranking it seventh out of 10 multiple-parterres aired on the nets this season.

At 8 p.m., “World’s Scariest Sea Creatures” (7.5/13 in homes) swam to ABC’s best 18-49 rating in that slot since Oscar night.

NBC finales strong

NBC was a close second in homes behind CBS and in key demos behind ABC with hourlong season closers for “Suddenly Susan” (9.1/16) and “Caroline in the City” (9.3/14), both of which hit their highest Monday ratings since Jan. 5.

The hourlong “Murphy Brown” signoff beat its average for this past season by 68% and more than doubled its second-to-last episode, which faded to a lowest-ever firstrun tally of 5.4/8. Compared with CBS’ season averages in that slot, “Murphy” was up by 58% in adults 18-49 and 64% in adults 25-54.

“Murphy” had been a Monday institution on CBS for most of its 10-season run, peaking in 1992-93 with a 17.9/26 average the year of the title character’s pregnancy and childbirth experiences.

It was the fourth-highest-rated farewell for a longrunning sitcom in the past four seasons, behind “Seinfeld” (41.3/58), “Full House” (14.6/25) and “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” (13.1/22). “Murphy” topped such prominent wraps as “Roseanne” (11.6/19) and “Wings’ ” (10.2/16).

In other Monday results, UPN’s “Love Boat” (2.1/4) hit lowest-yet depths and trailed WB’s slot competition, a “7th Heaven” rerun (3.0/5). At 9 p.m., “‘The Virtual Ed Sullivan Show” (1.6/3) looked stiff, creaking to UPN’s weakest rating that hour since Aug. 5, 1996.

Each household rating point represents an estimated 980,000 homes, or 1% of the country’s TV homes. Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.23 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total. A share is the same sort of percentage, except it measures only the homes or viewers watching TV during the timeslot involved.