‘Fringe’ puts Fox on top Tuesday

CBS' 'Mentalist,' 'NCIS' also nab high ratings

Tuesday looks to be where the hot new dramas are this fall: Fox’s “Fringe,” CBS’ “The Mentalist” and CW’s “90210” all were up week to week and look to be the real deal after multiple airings.

Both “Fringe” and “Mentalist” are meshing nicely with their compatible, veteran lead-ins — an indication that skedding still matters in an era of DVRs and more than a hundred channels.

Not so hot among rookies on Tuesday, meanwhile, are ABC’s “Opportunity Knocks” and CW’s “Privileged,” although neither is cratering and they figure to get more time to build a bigger audience.

According to Nielsen estimates, Fox’s “Fringe” (4.2 rating/11 share in adults 18-49, 9.91 million viewers overall) won the 9 o’clock hour in adults 18-49 and key male demos. It was up a tick week to week, taking advantage of a slight improvement for lead-in “House” (5.4/15, 12.98m), the night’s top show in 18-49, 25-54 (6.0/15) and 12-34 (4.6/15).

“Fringe” retained 78% of its “House” lead-in among adults 18-49 — 74% among women and 83% among men.

At CBS, “The Mentalist” (3.6/9 in 18-49, 15.48m) fared very well relative to its lead-in, growing by a tick in demos over “NCIS” (3.5/10, 17.47m) and building slightly over its solid week-earlier premiere.

Compared with “The Unit” on the same night a year ago, the Simon Baker-led crime drama grew by 13% in 18-49. It still placed third in this demo (a tick behind second-place “Dancing With the Stars”), though it moved ahead of both “Dancing” and “Fringe” to lead the 9 o’clock hour in adults 25-54 (5.1/12).

At CW, “90210” (1.7/5 in 18-49, 3.25m) was up by double digits in most categories, including the net’s target demo of adults 18-34 (2.3/7), where it finished behind only Fox’s “House” at 8 o’clock. Compared with last year’s “Beauty and the Geek,” the new drama boosted the net by 53% in 18-34.

Down vs. last year’s “Reaper,” though, was 9 o’clock rookie “Privileged” (0.9/2 in 18-49, 1.87m), though it was flat or up a bit week to week.

Elsewhere, ABC’s “Opportunity Knocks” (1.8/5 in 18-49, 5.96m) was flat week to week, while its “Dancing With the Stars” results show (3.7/9, 15.49m) was down from the previous week’s performance program.

And closing out the night, NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” (3.8/11 in 18-49, 10.39m) was flat week to week and ruled in 18-49, but remained off its pace of last year. CBS’ “Without a Trace” (2.7/8, 12.61m) was down a tick from its season preem but improved over last year’s “Cane” by 8%. ABC struck out with its weight-loss spec “Half Their Size” (1.6/5, 4.88m).

Fox won the night comfortably in 18-49 (4.8/13), with CBS and NBC tied for second (3.3/9). CBS led in total viewers, drawing its largest regular Tuesday aud (15.2 million) since May 2005.

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