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Big Debut for 'Brooklyn' as Sitcoms Feud

September 24, 1997|BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Steven Bochco's new police drama "Brooklyn South" came out firing as the TV season officially opened Monday, attracting a solid audience of 16.7 million viewers.

The good news for CBS essentially ended there, however, as NBC's "Caroline in the City" was top gun among the night's comedies, trouncing CBS' "Cybill," while the Brooke Shields sitcom "Suddenly Susan" proved quite competitive with CBS' "Cosby."

Remote controls appeared to be working overtime Monday, as viewers flitted from network to network. More than one-fifth of the nearly 18 million people who viewed "Caroline," for example (which continued a cliffhanging plot from last season), bailed on the show that followed, "The Naked Truth." The biggest plus for CBS, in fact, may have been that more than 1 million of those who fled after "Caroline" went to "George & Leo," the new sitcom starring Bob Newhart.

Still, having once dominated Mondays with "Murphy Brown" in its heyday, CBS now potentially finds itself in a near-parity position with NBC, which is trying to corner the sitcom market with 18 comedies spread across the week.

Despite CBS' troubles from 8 to 10 p.m., people sought out "Brooklyn South," which, due to a graphic opening shootout, carried the most restrictive content rating, TV-M, signaling mature audiences. Although the networks aren't scheduled to add more specific content ratings until next week, CBS also affixed the letters L, S and V--denoting language, sex and violence--to the episode.

As with Bochco's similarly themed "NYPD Blue," the producer's latest series performed best in major cities, scoring its highest rating in New York and doing slightly better than its national average locally.

ABC actually managed to eke out first place for the night thanks to "Monday Night Football," though relatively few viewers gave their time to ABC's new series based on the movie "Timecop."

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