ABC can’t get ‘Chair’ at Monday-night table

Alphabet in hot soup with lineup

HOLLYWOOD — ABC’s new Monday lineup has stumbled out of the gate, sending the net to a fifth-place finish for the night.

Alphabet’s worst performer for the evening: quizzer “The Chair,” which barely registered a pulse at 9 p.m. (with 2.1/5 adults 18-49, 4.87 million viewers). Skein scored ABC’s worst-ever in-season numbers (since the intro of People Meters) in total viewers and matched the net’s lowest in-season mark for adults 18-49 with regularly skedded programming.

At 10 p.m., the return of “Once and Again” (2.7/7, 6.12m viewers) once again disappointed, though the critically loved series did improve on its deadly “Chair” lead-in. Numbers were on a par with what the show averaged on Fridays but nearly 50% below what “Once” scored in the Monday slot a year ago.

‘Kids,’ ‘Brady’ bunch better

ABC’s tiny glimmer of hope came at 8 p.m., with an original seg of “My Wife & Kids” (3.2/9, 8.18m) and the second-season premiere of “The Wayne Brady Show” (3.1/8, 7.16m), which improved ABC’s time-period perf by 23% and 19%, respectively, with adults 18-49. Nonetheless, both shows finished fourth, beating only Fox comedy repeats and UPN’s laffers.

The 8 p.m. timeslot offered a rare showdown between three network laffers with black leads: ABC’s Damon Wayans starrer, Fox’s “Bernie Mac” and UPN’s “The Hughleys.” Wayans won, but none of the shows wowed.

Overall, CBS — based on the strength of its laffers — won Monday night in both viewers and adults 18-49; NBC was second, followed by Fox, the WB, ABC and UPN. All four Eye comedies won their slots in viewers and demos, with “Yes, Dear” scoring its best-ever numbers for an original seg at 8:30 p.m.

‘Fear’ barely factors

NBC had mixed news for the night: While “Third Watch” (4.8/11, 12.21m) beat Fox’s “Ally McBeal” (4.4/10, 9.1m) for the first time ever at 9 p.m., shock reality skein “Fear Factor” (4.7/12, 11.1m) earned its lowest Nielsen numbers yet since returning to Monday nights in January. “Fear” is still doing better than anything else NBC’s had in the slot this season.

At 10 p.m., “Crossing Jordan” (5.1/13, 12.9m) continued to do nicely for NBC, squashing both “Once and Again” and Eye drama “Family Law” (3.2/8, 10.3m.)

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