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Fall TV: Prime-Time Profile

September 21, 1996|BRIAN LOWRY

Thursday's Results: To the surprise of no one, "Suddenly Susan" emerged as the week's highest-rated new series, while NBC also garnered plenty of sampling for one of its new Saturday shows, "The Pretender."

With "Seinfeld" attracting a huge 22.2 Nielsen rating and 34% of the audience (each rating point equals 970,000 homes), NBC's Brooke Shields comedy retained 92% of "Seinfeld's" rating--a higher percentage than "Caroline in the City's" premiere in the same time period last year. The show was seen by 30.1 million TV viewers, which compares favorably with the 25.9 million who watched Michael J. Fox in ABC's "Spin City" Tuesday and 24.7 million for "Cosby" on CBS Monday.

Making its debut in "ER's" slot, "Pretender" did a so-so impersonation of that show's results--drawing a 16.2 rating and 28% of the audience. The question now is how many of the nearly 23 million viewers who tuned in will be home next Saturday when the show premieres in its regular 9 p.m. time slot.

The night's other new entry, CBS' Peter Strauss drama "Moloney," had to settle for just 11% of the audience airing opposite "Seinfeld."

Weekend Highlights: Tonight NBC tries scheduling three new escapist dramas on a night where the No. 1 network ranked fourth most of last year its biggest gamble this season.

More than $6 million was reportedly spent on the two-hour introduction of "Dark Skies," which leads off the night. Facing "Walker, Texas Ranger," meanwhile, is "Profiler," which bears a thematic resemblance to another new hour, Fox's "Millennium," although that show won't premiere for more than a month.

The other networks are holding their new Saturday series premieres until next week. CBS brings back "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" tonight but will launch "Early Edition" a week later, when ABC will trot out "Coach" and its new Saturday players, the comedy "Common Law" and (after a Tuesday preview) the serialized drama "Relativity."

Fox also offers what it's billing as "America's Most Wanted's" final episode (the format may continue as occasional specials), before "Married . . . With Children" and another new sitcom, "Love and Marriage," try to get comfortable in that hour.

Sunday marks the season premieres of "America's Funniest Home Videos," "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" (continuing last spring's cliffhanger) and "3rd Rock From the Sun," which takes off with a one-hour episode guest-starring the Chicago Bulls' Dennis Rodman.

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