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CBS laffer “Old Christine” opened to hearty numbers Monday night with a special two-episode premiere, lifting the Eye to victory for the night. NBC also saw best-ever scores for “Deal or No Deal.”

According to prelim nationals from Nielsen, the 9:30 regular-slot premiere of Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy “The New Adventures of Old Christine” (4.8 rating/11 share in adults 18-49, 15.3 million viewers overall) placed second in demos and first in total viewers, retaining about 90% of its lead-in from “Two and a Half Men” (5.3/13 in 18-49, 17.6 million viewers overall) – the best hold of the three laffers to bow behind “Men” this season. The first airing of “Christine,” at 8:30, (3.9/10 in 18-49, 12.5 million viewers overall) also placed second in its slot, building a bit in rating on “King of Queens” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 11.5 million viewers overall).

At NBC, Howie Mandel-hosted gameshow “Deal or No Deal” (5.2/14 in 18-49, 15.4 million viewers overall) set series records and took over the 8 o’clock hour, posting NBC’s best regular-slot score there since May 2004. Third-place “The Apprentice 5” (4.1/10 in 18-49, 9.9 million viewers overall) was in line with its prior ratings scores, while 10 o’clock drama “Medium” was low (3.9/10 in 18-49, 10.2 million viewers overall).

Fox won the 9 o’clock hour in demos with “24” (5.7/13 in 18-49, 13.6 million viewers overall), virtually doubling its lead-in from a repeat “Prison Break” (2.9/8 in 18-49, 6.9 million viewers overall). “Prison” returns with original episodes next week.

ABC ran fourth but was up week-to-week with its unscripted lineup of “Wife Swap” (3.7/10 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall), “Supernanny” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 9.7 million viewers overall) and “Miracle Workers” (3.7/9 in 18-49, 9.1 million viewers overall). Latter skein built by about 8% from its premiere and almost caught “Medium,” though it remained well behind slot leader “CSI: Miami” on CBS (6.2/16 in 18-49, 18.7 million viewers overall).

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 5.0/13; NBC, 4.4/11; Fox, 4.3/11; ABC, 3.7/9; UPN, 1.2/3; WB, 1.0/3.

In total viewers: CBS, 15.7 million; NBC, 11.8 million; Fox, 10.2 million; ABC, 9.4 million; UPN, 2.6 million; WB, 2.6 million.