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Fall TV: Prime-Time Profile

September 19, 1996|BRIAN LOWRY

Tuesday's Results: Score Round 1 of the heavyweight brawl between ABC and NBC comedy blocks for NBC, as "Mad About You" decked "Roseanne" in their first head-to-head airing.

The Paul Reiser-Helen Hunt comedy attracted a 14.6 rating (each point represents 970,000 homes) and 23% of the audience versus a 12.8 rating and 21% of available viewers for "Roseanne," whose ninth-season opener declined 21% compared to last year's premiere.

ABC did rebound at 9 p.m. with "Home Improvement," which rallied to beat "Frasier" with an 18.2 rating and 27% share of audience versus a 14.7 rating and 22%. The premiere of ABC's most-discussed new show, "Spin City," then captured 25% of the audience, drawing 25.9 million viewers. Although that's quite good, the Michael J. Fox comedy did fall 7% off "Home Improvement's" rating, which should temper excitement at ABC.

"Spin City" won't have a true hammock--that is, positioning between two established hits--until Oct. 15, when "NYPD Blue" begins its fourth season. ABC tried "High Incident" at 10 p.m. Tuesday and slipped to third place in the time period.

In terms of other new shows, CBS' Gerald McRaney drama, "Promised Land," showed some promise at 8 p.m. against ABC and NBC sitcom standouts, garnering 16% of the audience. "Something So Right," meanwhile, took the baton from "Mad About You" and maintained a solid edge over ABC's "Life's Work."

The "Mad About You" versus "Roseanne" showdown was closer locally, as the former won in the Los Angeles market by a mere half rating point. KTLA-TV Channel 5 attracted 10% of viewers to see L.A. Dodger ace Hideo Nomo pitch a no-hitter, with viewership peaking at 16% in the ballgame's final half-hour.


Tonight's Highlights: Ratings for "Suddenly Susan" will almost certainly surpass all other new series, but the real challenge will be how much of "Seinfeld's" audience the remodeled Brooke Shields comedy can retain over time. Last season, "Caroline in the City" fell 16% off "Seinfeld's" average rating, earning the show a renewal but also a trip to Tuesday nights.

NBC previews "The Pretender" in "ER's" time slot before blending the show about a man with imitative abilities into the Saturday landscape. CBS enters the lion's den opposite "Seinfeld" with "Moloney," a show whose biggest asset may be the network's modest expectations.

Making their season premieres tonight are "Diagnosis Murder" on CBS, "Friends," "The Single Guy" and "Seinfeld" on NBC and "Turning Point" on ABC.

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