Showtime’s ‘Shameless’ off to strong start

William H. Macy drama is net's best drama premiere in 7 years

Shameless” got off to the best start of any Showtime drama in seven years, as the first airing of the Brit import drew 982,000 viewers.

Show, based on the Paul Abbott-created series, stars Emmy Rossum and William H. Macy as members of a family living on the poverty line.

In 2004, “Dead Like Me” opened to a still-record 1.1 million. The “Shameless” numbers will likely rise as the week goes on with repeat telecasts, plus DVR and on-demand usage.

Prior to the 10 p.m. “Shameless” debut, half-hour “Episodes” opened to 768,000 viewers. Matt LeBlanc stars as himself, playing the lead of a sitcom that’s getting a dumbed-down Yank treatment of an award-winning U.K. series.

Leading off the night at 9 was the season-four premiere of David Duchovny starrer “Californication,” which drew a season-preem best 848,000, up slightly on last season’s first episode.

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