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'Elementary,' My Dear Nielsen

CBS solves 10 p.m. mystery with new Sherlock Holmes drama

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CBS last night rolled to a decisive ratings victory, as its hybridized comedy-procedural lineup led to a strong series debut at 10 p.m.

Per Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, CBS’s new Sherlock Holmes reboot Elementary delivered 13.4 million viewers and a 3.1 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demo, improving on its Person of Interest lead-in (2.9) and the year-ago season opener of former time slot occupant The Mentalist (2.8).

Elementary breezed to a win in the hour, besting ABC’s sophomore drama Scandal (6.74 million viewers/2.1) and NBC’s prime time newsmagazine show, Rock Center with Brian Williams (3.13 million/0.8). Scandal’s half-hour numbers may be cause for concern; more than 1 million viewers tuned away in the latter part of the hour and the demo fell 20 percent (2.5 to 2.0).

With 13 series premieres on the books, Elementary now stands as the No. 2 reach vehicle—CBS’s freshman series Vegas bowed Tuesday night to 14.9 million viewers—and No. 4 among the 18-to-49 set. NBC’s Revolution leads all comers with its opening salvo (4.1).

CBS got things started with the return of The Big Bang Theory (15.7 million/5.0) and Two and Half Men (12.5 million/3.5). As expected TBBT had its way with the rest of the 8 p.m. pack, although Men slumped perceptively in its new time slot. Of course, year-over-year premiere comparisons are immaterial, given the endless amount of free press the show got in the run-up to Ashton Kutcher’s succession of star Charlie Sheen. That said, last night’s opener still paled in comparison to Men’s full-season averages (12.7 million/4.2).

At 9 p.m, Person of Interest gained nearly one million viewers versus its 2011 series premiere, while the demo slipped two-tenths of a point. 

Along with Elementary, Thursday night played host to one other high-profile drama debut. ABC’s naval thriller Last Resort got off to a slow start, drawing 9.31 million viewers and a 2.2 rating, giving it only a slight edge over last season’s premiere of Charlie’s Angels (8.76 million/2.1). 

While Charlie’s Angels was canned after five episodes, look for ABC to be far more patient with Last Resort. For one thing, it’s probably the most male-friendly series on the ABC schedule. Moreover, this is the sort of show that should put up huge DVR numbers. Now that Time Warner Cable is carrying NFL Network, more men than ever before are likely to tune in for Thursday Night Football; those who want to keep abreast with Last Resort will have to resort to time-shifting. (We’ll know more about Last Resort’s DVR deliveries in about a week, when Nielsen releases its live-plus-three-day numbers. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that the live demo rating actually grew 15 percent in the latter half-hour.)

Oh, and at the risk of editorializing: Last Resort is one of the most critically acclaimed new series on the dial. To put it charitably, Charlie’s Angels was an awful television show.

Leading out of Last Resort, Grey’s Anatomy was up a few ticks versus a year ago (11.7 million/4.4).

Over at Fox, The X Factor continued to put up strong, if unspectacular, numbers (9.39 million/3.2), although Glee dropped 17 percent (5.79 million/2.4) when faced with head-on Grey’s competition.

Lastly, NBC staggered to another woeful Thursday finish, as Up All Night (1.4), The Office (2.1) and Parks and Recreation (1.6) placed fourth in their respective time slots. Preliminary deliveries had been inflated by the inclusion of ratings from NBC’s Baltimore and Cleveland affiliates—in place of the prime time comedy/Rock Center lineup, viewers in those markets saw the NFL Network’s simulcast of the Browns-Ravens game.