For network television, Monday was only the first day back in school.
But this isn’t the old days, when shows could settle in and coast for few weeks before things got serious.
Indeed, the grades come in early and often. Here’s how Fancast scored Monday’s performances.
HOUSE – The two-hour season premiere featuring Hugh Laurie’s title character in a mental hospital scored 16.5 million viewers, a 16% uptick from last season’s first episode.
LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN – Numbers weren’t available at press time, but having President Barack Obama on the show produced the best ratings in at least four years.
THE BIG BANG THEORY – CBS’ decision to move “Big Bang” to 9:30, behind Chuck Lorre’s other show (“Two and a Half Men”) paid off nicely, with show watched by its biggest audience ever, 12.8 million viewers.
CASTLE – On par with “Boston Legal’s” performance at 10 o’clock on ABC last year with 9.4 million viewers. These days, with viewers leaving network television en masse, flat is good. Watch the season premiere here.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – Barney and Robin may not be able to define their relationship, but “Mother” got off to a decent start, attracting 9.2 million viewers – almost as many as “The Big Bang Theory” opened with last fall when it was at 8 p.m. Watch the season premiere here.
DANCING WITH THE STARS – Featuring former Republican House Majority leader Tom DeLay trying to redistrict the dance floor, ABC reality competish show had the biggest audience of the night (17.5 million viewers), but that was a huge 24% drop from its season premiere last year. Watch the season premiere here.
THE JAY LENO SHOW – Finally facing real competition at 10 o’clock (CBS’ “CSI: Miami” and ABC’s “Castle”), “Jay” dropped to its lowest ratings so far with 5.7 million viewers. NBC insists that the talk show’s 1.8 rating among adults 18-49 – the demographic it sells to advertisers – is all it needs to make money, given how cheap Jay Leno at 10 is to produce. But come on, folks, is that entertainment? Watch last night’s episode here.
HEROES – Viewership cratered 46% from last year’s premiere to 6 million. If “Hereos” was one of the flatling patients on one of those new hospital show’s, they’d “call it.” Watch the season premiere here.