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CBS Dramas Off to Good Start

October 09, 2000|BRIAN LOWRY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CBS' revised Friday and Saturday lineups each introducing a pair of new dramas to go with one returning show--both got off to impressive starts as the new TV season gradually rolls out.

The debut of "The District," starring Craig T. Nelson, attracted an estimated 14.4 million viewers Saturday to top all programs that night. CBS' new dramas "That's Life" and "Walker, Texas Ranger" also won their time slots.

On Friday, CBS newcomers "C.S.I.," about forensic investigators, and a revival of "The Fugitive" attracted 17 million and 13 million viewers, respectively, dominating the night. The former held a wide advantage over the macabre new Fox drama "FreakyLinks" (6.8 million viewers), unearthing CBS' highest rating with a regularly scheduled program in that hour since 1994.

NBC has been winning Fridays with "Providence" in the leadoff spot but had to bench its usual lineup to make room for playoff baseball, which put up a much weaker Nielsen box score. CBS is hopeful initial sampling will pay off when the regular competition settles in later this month.

ABC also launched a new Friday comedy block featuring two new sitcoms--"The Trouble With Normal" and "Madigan Men"--and came up short compared with its audience levels a year ago with youth-oriented "TGIF" comedies. "Madigan," starring Gabriel Byrne, showed some promise with 8.5 million viewers, a bigger audience than its lead-in "Norm."

Barbara Walters' latest coup, an interview with an aide to Princess Diana, didn't generate much interest, as "20/20" drew 12.6 million viewers, trailing CBS' "Nash Bridges" at 10 p.m.

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