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‘Amy’ judged a hit

'Judging' among new hits; Fox 'Ally' oops

The verdict is in on the new CBS drama “Judging Amy”: It’s a hit.

On the second Tuesday of the new season, Nielsen’s viewer jury found the frosh hour guilty on several counts, including winning its 10 p.m. timeslot and — even more importantly — improving substantially over its week-ago averages.

Nearly as bitchin’ Tuesday was the stellar season premiere of Fox’s “That 70s Show,” which shocked ratings watchers with an unexpected adults 18-49 victory at 8:30 p.m. ABC’s “Dharma & Greg” also rebounded from a so-so premiere week to score a solid demo win in its second 9 p.m. faceoff with NBC’s “Will & Grace.”

Less impressive Tuesday was the first outing for “Ally,” Fox’s attempt to squeeze more ratings mileage out of its Monday hit “Ally McBeal” by running a condensed 30-minute version of the original. It finished a weak fourth in its 8:30 p.m. timeslot.

Boosted by the strong ratings for “Amy” and double-digit tallies for “JAG” and “60 Minutes II,” CBS won the night in total viewers and finished a solid second behind ABC in adults 25-54. Eye was up 21% in adults 18-49 vs. the previous week, and up 45% from the same night two years earlier, the last time CBS entered the fall with an all-series lineup on Tuesdays.

ABC topped the all-important adults 18-49 competish.

Night began at 8 p.m. with “JAG” soaring to its best-ever homes rating. Over at ABC, “Spin City” (11.25 million, 4.9/15 in adults 18-49) closed the gap considerably on NBC’s “Just Shoot Me” (11.41 million, 5.3/16 in adults 18-49) and moved ahead in households (8.3 vs. 8.0).

“Spin’s” gains helped ABC’s 8-10 p.m. comedy block move half a point ahead of NBC’s in adults 18-49, though the lead may change hands when ABC’s ratings-challenged “Sports Night” returns to the sked next week. Compared with its hot week-earlier season start, NBC’s Tuesday comedy block cooled by 25% in adults 18-49 (5.1 vs. 6.8).

Initial results, meanwhile, for “Ally” were ho-hum (7.27 million, 3.7/11 in adults 18-49), with the skein falling 5% from the disappointing 18-49 average for “King of the Hill” in that slot last season (3.7 vs. 3.9). “Ally” did manage sizable increases in young-female demos over “King’s” male-skewing results.

Equally woeful results came from ABC’s “It’s Like, You Know…” (8.33 million viewers, 4.0/11 in adults 18-49), which pulled the net deep into fourth in adults 18-49 for the 8:30 half-hour.

“Like” collapsed opposite hot competish from “That ’70s Show” (11.26 million, 6.0/17), which scored a Fox slot-record rating for regular series fare.

The hot Tuesday start for ” ’70s” reps vindication for Fox for sticking with the retro-sitcom through a rookie season of uninspiring Nielsens. The net apparently built the show’s following over the summer by heavily promoting its Monday run, which included five firstrun airings.

At 9 p.m., “Dharma & Greg” (13.31 million viewers, 6.5/17 in adults 18-49) brushed off the weak “It’s Like” lead-in and moved ahead of NBC’s “Will & Grace” (12.99 million, 6.1/16 in adults 18-49) in adults 18-49.

A “Dharma”” rerun at 9:30 (13.54 million, 7.0/18 in adults 18-49) dealt another crushing blow to the survival hopes of NBC’s “Mike O’Malley Show” (8.40 million, 4.0/10 in adults 18-49). “O’Malley” plunged to fourth that half-hour in the 18-49 demo, retaining less than 70% of its leadin.

At 10 p.m., ABC’s “Once and Again” (13.45 million, 6.9/19 in adults 18-49) and CBS’ “Judging Amy” (15.70 million, 5.3/15) are looking like twin rookie-drama successes in that hour, though “Once” is still slated to make room for “NYPD Blue” in November.

Each adults 18-49 rating point reps 1.24 million viewers, 1% of the U.S. total.