Hotter ‘Housewives’

'Desperate' murder is sweet for sweeps

Television’s hottest show, ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” reached stratospheric ratings heights Sunday with an episode that saw one of the ladies get bumped off.

As a result, ABC has a shot at catching, maybe even bumping off, NBC for second place in the November sweep.

While CBS remains in cruise control to capture the month in adults 18-49 — its first November sweep triumph in the demo — it could come down to the final night, Wednesday, to determine who wins the silver medal.

Second helping

For the Alphabet, which like CBS is tracking ahead of last year’s sweep averages, a second-place finish would put an exclamation point on its strong start to the fall.

Leading the way has been the net’s perf Sunday, where it has won the past five weeks in adults 18-49 thanks to the unstoppable combo of “Desperate Housewives” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

This week, according to preliminary Nielsen nationals, ABC racked up its largest Sunday audience with regular programming in four years (17.8 million) and its top adults 18-49 rating in nearly five years (7.3/19).

Sunday’s “Housewives,” on which nosey neighbor Mrs. Huber (Christine Estabrook) was strangled, surged to ratings highs, with the eighth episode (prelim 12.4 rating/26 share in adults 18-49, 27 million viewers overall) — topping the combined demo deliveries in the 9 o’clock hour of CBS, NBC, Fox and the WB.

This puts “Housewives” in heady demo territory, as its 12.4 rating tops every telecast — including the Olympics, every episode of “CSI” and the final two hours of “American Idol” in May — since the night of the “Friends” finale on NBC nearly seven months ago. It’s also ABC’s best showing with regular programming here since May 1995 (Stephen King’s “Langoliers”).

At ‘Home’ on Sundays

Also for ABC, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” dominated at 8 (prelim 7.5/17 in 18-49, 18.2 million), and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (prelim 3.4/9 in 18-49, 12.1m) and “Boston Legal” (prelim 5.9/14 in 18-49, 14.0 million) bookended the night with season-best results.

CBS ran second on the night, getting a nice assist from an NFL overrun as well as “60 Minutes” (roughly 4.2/10 in 18-49, 17.8 million) and “Cold Case” (roughly 4.1/9, 17.1m).

From 9 to 11, the Eye’s holiday movie “When Angels Come to Town” (roughly 3.3/8 in adults 18-49, 14.1 million viewers overall) topped NBC’s Kelsey Grammer-led musical “A Christmas Carol” (3.0/7 in adults 18-49, 9.6 million viewers overall).

‘Ice’ chilled

Fox’s premiere of theatrical “Ice Age” delivered an OK 3.4/8 in adults 18-49 and 9 million viewers overall from 7 to 9 p.m., but it was topped by NBC’s repeat of “Shrek” (prelim 3.8/9, 11.1m).

Through Sunday (factoring in prelim Nielsens for the Thanksgiving weekend), CBS is well out in front of the pack for the sweep in adults 25-54 and total viewers. In the prized 18-49 category, the Eye, with its 4.4 rating, is comfortably ahead of NBC (4.0) and ABC (3.9), with Fox deep in fourth (3.0).

The most likely finish is a tie between the Peacock and Alphabet for second at a 4.0, although ABC has an outside shot of getting up to a 4.1.

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