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Engagement Gets No Respect, Just Big Ratings

When CBS executives at last month’s Television Critics Association press tour complained that their network’s shows don’t enjoy the buzz that other networks’ lesser-rated shows get, we had a hard time shedding tears.

Coming from a network that routinely draws the most overall viewers, it all seemed a bit woe-is-me.

But after seeing the indifference that greeted the strong start for CBS rookie comedy Rules of Engagement, we have to admit they have a point.

The comedy, starring David Spade, stepped into the 9:30 p.m. slot on Mondays and actually matched its hit lead-in, Two and a Half Men, in its second week.

And its 4.9 average rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demo not only equaled Men but topped every other comedy on network television—including buzz magnets like NBC’s My Name Is Earl and The Office.

But it seems the industry has been too busy lamenting the dearth of successful comedies on network TV to note the early success of Rules.

"Buzz is both quantitative and qualitative," says Campbell Mithun media analyst John Rash. "Quantitatively, this show is a success. But qualitatively, the show still isn’t groundbreaking and isn’t as overly youth-focused as most or many buzz-worthy shows."

Sorry, fellas. You’ll just have to make do with big ratings.