Tuned In: The Big Bang Theory lived up to its name, and weeks of hype, landing in its new Thursday night timeslot a complete success: Drawing 14 million viewers and a 4.8 rating with adults under 50, the show actually upticked a bit from its fall 2009 debut in its cozy post-Two and a Half Men time slot on Monday nights while improving on Survivor's year-ago 8 p.m. Thursday premiere by a stunning 37 percent in the demo. And yet, the good news is, Bang didn't ding Vulture fave Community: While its relatively tiny audience of 5 million viewers and a 2.2 in the younger demo keeps it a firm underdog, the show actually improved on its May season finale by 10 percent and was up 16 percent vs. its first 8 p.m. broadcast last October. (Go Human Beings!)
Elsewhere, critically loathed new comedies $#*! My Dad Says and Outsourced, boosted by respective lead-ins Big Bang and The Office, didn't tank; they drew decent sampling and retained a respectable amount of their higher-rated neighbors. NBC's more established comedies also did fine: The Office was actually up by 5 percent over last year's bow, while 30 Rock survived its move to 8:30 p.m., dropping only around 12 percent despite having no Office lead-in (and even though it normally premieres in mid-to-late October). Finally, Fox's Bones continues to be stable 8 p.m. anchor for the network, though it was nicked a tad from the tough new CBS competition.
Tuned Out: ABC's My Generation didn't have the critical love of Fox's Lone Star, but it met the same stony silence from viewers as the latter newcomer: It averaged just 5.2 million viewers and a 1.6 in adults 18-49. That's less than half the audience for last year's FlashForward, so it's not hard to see what will happen to MyGen in its FlashForward. The Alphabet had a tough night: While Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice remained No. 1 in their time slots with younger viewers, the shows were both off by more than 20 percent vs. last fall's premieres. CBS's drama warhorse CSI also had a tough night: Despite Justin Bieber's acting debut, the show was down 17 percent from last fall's debut in adults 18-49, and actually finished third in the time slot behind Grey's and NBC's comedies. (CSI did improve a bit vs. its May finale, however). Finally, The Apprentice dropped another 7 percent from its awful return last week, earning its lowest ratings ever — and, most likely, a quick relocation to another night of the week.
Crunching the Numbers: CBS rolled the dice when it decided to shift Big Bang to Thursdays and Survivor to Wednesdays. So far, the bet is paying off big-time, with the Eye dramatically up on Wednesdays, and Big Bang established as an 8 p.m. comedy anchor on a night where movie studios pay dearly for the opportunity to advertise on a young-skewing show. Right now, it's too soon to say if CBS has the makings of a fully realized Thursday night juggernaut. $#*! did fine for a debut, and if it stabliizes at last night's number, it could be the Suddenly Susan or The Single Guy to Big Bang's Friends — i.e., the satellite show that settles in nicely behind a much-bigger Thursday planet. If viewers flee in coming weeks, however, CBS could face the same problem that bedeviled NBC for years: Big 8 p.m. hit, crap at 8:30. We're also advising caution on Outsourced: It's not the instant flop that ensures the speedy return of Parks and Recreation, but there's also little evidence to suggest it could turn into a hit, either.