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Syndication Ratings: Two and a Half Men Takes Top Sitcom Spot

Warner Bros.’ Two and a Half Men finally lived up to its billing as an “A-level” sitcom, shooting past Twentieth Television’s Family Guy to tie CBS’ Everybody Loves Raymond for the off-network sitcom lead at a 3.7 national household rating for the week of Oct. 7, according to Nielsen Media Research. That’s up 3% for the week.

Longtime leader Raymond dipped 5%. Meanwhile, Family Guy, which hit a high of a 4.2 in week two, dropped to a 3.6 in its fourth week, dropping 3% and finishing just behind the top two.

Sony veteran Seinfeld, in fourth place, fell 6% to a 3.4. Sony’s King of Queens was far behind at a 2.6, down 10% for the week. And Warner Bros.’ Friends at a 2.5 was down 7% for sixth place. Warner Bros.’ George Lopez, also a rookie, took seventh place at a 2.4, up 9%.

In other off-net news, NBC Universal’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent, an hour-long drama that stations are stripping, was up 8% to a 1.4, its best national rating thus far.

CBS’ Judge Judy, the court leader, was up 2% for the week to a 4.7. The 12-year-old show also was up 12% season-to-date for the year, one of only two first-run syndicated shows to be up by that measure. Sony’s Maria Lopez, at a 0.9, also grew 13% season-to-date for the year but was down 10% for the week.

In second place among the court shows, CBS’ Judge Joe Brown was down 4% for the week to a 2.6. Warner Bros.’ People’s Court, in third place, was flat at a 2.5. Warner Bros.’ Judge Mathis, in fourth place, was up 5% to a 2.2. Twentieth’s Divorce Court was up 6% to a 1.9. Twentieth’s Judge Alex at a 1.7 and Sony’s Judge Hatchett and Twentieth’s Cristina’s Court at a 1.2 all were flat.

Sony’s rookie court show, Judge David Young, scored a 0.9 in its fourth week on the air, up 13% from week three. That also makes it the second-highest-rated rookie for the week. Radar Entertainment’s Jury Duty was reprocessed for the week after barely making the chart at a 0.2 in its second week on the air.

Meanwhile, tabloid favorite Britney Spears may be ruining her life, but she still gets ratings. A Los Angeles judge’s decision to give custody of her two sons to her ex-husband, Kevin Federline, drove most of the entertainment newsmagazines up for the week, even though levels of people using television were down 350,000 from the prior week.

CBS’ Entertainment Tonight scored a 4.8, tying the prior week to earn the show’s highest rating since early June. ET spinoff CBS’ The Insider jumped 9% to a 2.5, the week’s biggest increase among entertainment magazines and The Insider’s best showing in 16 weeks. On Oct. 2, the day the Spears story broke, The Insider’s ratings shot up 26% to a 2.9. That’s the biggest single day the show has had since last April.

NBC Universal’s Access Hollywood had its best rating in 10 weeks with a 2.4, up 4%. And Warner Bros.’ Extra held steady at a 1.8, tying Warner Bros.’ TMZ in its fourth week. That’s up 6% from the prior week but down 10% from its Sept. 10 premiere week. TMZ, syndication’s only new access show, remained the first-run rookie leader.

CBS’ Inside Edition, more news than entertainment show, retained its grip in second place and was flat at a 3.3.

Of the 12 talk shows, only CBS’ Dr. Phil gained on the week, earning the show’s best ratings since the last May sweep, up 2% to a 4.6. Dr. Phil was also the only talk show up from the same week last year, growing by 2%. Dr. Phil’s strong showing was driven by a 4.9 on Oct. 1, with an episode about Louisiana’s Jena 6.

Disney-ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly was third at a 2.9, down 6%, while Warner Bros.’ Ellen, CBS’ Rachael Ray and NBCU’s Maury all tied for fourth at a 1.8. Ellen and Rachael were down 5%, while Maury was flat. CBS’ Oprah, the top talker, was down 2% to a 5.3.

Among the talk rookies, NBCU’s The Steve Wilkos Show and Twentieth’s The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet tied at a 0.8, both unchanged for the week.

In other rookie news, Twentieth’s Temptation finally appeared on the ratings chart at a 0.4 after being reprocessed by Nielsen for the past three weeks. Program Partners’ Merv Griffin’s Crosswords remained unchanged at a 0.8.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.