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Earl Scores; Dancing Trips

It looks as if Dancing With the Stars may have simply been a summer fling. The viewer cries of "Let's get ready to rhumba!" were not nearly as loud as before.

ABC's hit show returned with a dance-off between the winners (Kelly Monaco and Alec Mazo) and runners-up (John O'Hurley and Charlotte Jorgenson). Its lead-in was the debut of According to Jim. ABC had to have been expecting some production out of that lineup.

The dance-off followed some complaints that the latter pair should have won, plus it was a way to stunt into the new season with a proven winner.

The hour-and-a-half extravaganza averaged only a 2.8/7 in the 18-49 demo, far below the 4-plus ratings it used to pull in in the lower-viewing summer months, and good for only fourth place in its time period.

ABC has another two-hour reprise/results show Thursday night, looking to take some of the steam out of NBC's premiere of its Thursday lineup.

ABC couldn't have been too happy with the debut of Jim at 8, either, which came in fourth among the Big Four and barely edged the first half-hour of The WB's Gilmore Girls (2.3/7)

Meanwhile, the debut of NBC's critically acclaimed sitcom, My Name Is Earl, blew the doors off of Fox's House with a 6.4/16 at 9-9:30 vs. a 4.4/11 for the Fox drama, which has gotten used to 5 and 6 ratings.

House rebounded at 9:30, however, with a 5.3/13 to drub NBC's premiere of The Office (4.3/10), though the sitcom came in second in the time period and was won of the top five shows of the night.

It will be interesting to see the second-week match-up between Earl and House to see whether the viewers who sampled Earl its first time out plan to stick around.

Thanks to Earl, and the premiere of Law & Order: SVU at 10, NBC won the night with a 4.7/12 average in the 18-49 demo. Fox was second with a 3.9/10, thanks to House (4.8/12).

CBS was third with a 3.5/10. Its top show was Rock Star: INXS (3.9/10), which helped balance a less than impressive 3.2/8 for the Big Brother 6 finale. The net also got good numbers from NCIS, which had its best premiere—it launched its third season—in 18-49s with a 3.5/10 to win the 8 p.m. hour.

ABC was fourth with a 2.6/7. Its top show was Dancing, but that wasn't saying a lot.

The WB was a strong fifth at a 2.3/6 thanks to Gilmore Girls (2.4/7) and its new eerie drama, Supernatural (2.1/5).

UPN was sixth with a 1.7/5 for an all-reality lineup of Next Top Model and T-Boz & Chilli.