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'Early Edition,' 'Sabrina' Show Promise in Ratings

Television: But ABC's 'Common Law' and Fox's 'Love and Marriage' have weak outings.

September 30, 1996|BRIAN LOWRY

The networks batted about .500 with new prime-time programs over the weekend, as CBS' "Early Edition" and ABC's "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" showed promise while the sitcoms "Common Law" and "Love and Marriage" appear to be in immediate trouble.

All four networks introduced their complete Saturday night lineups, with mixed results. CBS remained the night's leader, as "Early Edition" comfortably slid in after "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and won that hour. NBC scored a solid second-place finish behind its new dramas "Dark Skies," "The Pretender" and "Profiler."

By contrast, ABC and Fox fared poorly by moving the veteran comedies "Coach" and "Married . . . With Children" into the 9 p.m. hour. Each show attracted just 12% of available viewers, and the new shows following them, ABC's "Common Law" and Fox's "Love and Marriage," dropped to poor 10% and 8% audience shares, respectively.

After a Tuesday preview, ABC's serialized drama "Relativity" also premiered at 10 p.m. Saturday and ran a distant third behind CBS' "Walker, Texas Ranger" and "Profiler."

ABC did scare up plenty of viewers for Friday's introduction of "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch." The comedy did better than the established show preceding it, "Family Matters," and easily won its 8:30 p.m. time period with a 21% audience share.

All results are preliminary based on the 33 major cities metered by the Nielsen service. National ratings will be issued Tuesday.

In addition to NBC's encouraging prime-time results Saturday, the 22nd-season opener of "Saturday Night Live," hosted by Tom Hanks, handily beat Fox's "Mad TV."

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