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Ratings: Thanksgiving Specials Tank; Cable Gives Thanks for Zombies

Tuned In
Nielsen ratings for Thanksgiving week were delayed till late last night, which is probably a good thing since the holiday tends to depress viewing levels: None of the Big Four networks could manage to break the 10 million viewer mark last week. CBS finished in first with about 9.6 million pairs of eyeballs, well under its season-to-date average of over 12 million. Fox, powered by a big Thanksgiving football overrun and Glee, took command of the adults 18 to 49 demo derby. But not every network hates the holidays: Cable's Hallmark Channel had a great turkey week, with the awkwardly titled Doris Roberts telepic Debbie Macomber’s Call Me Mrs. Miracle attracting 4.7 million viewers, making it the top-rated show on cable Saturday. You can now safely set your DVR for the November 2011 debut of sequel I Know My First Name Is Mrs. Miracle, with special guest star Brad Garrett.

Tuned Out
With its young audience no doubt headed home for the holidays, and virtually all of its entire lineup in repeats, the CW pretty much took last week off: Its 0.4 average rating with viewers 18 to 49 was just one-third of its normal 1.2 in that demo. The network's economics are complicated, but maybe the CW should consider doing more cablelike marathons of hit shows during slow weeks (ten hours of Gossip Girl — who's in!?). In any event, last week's ratings dive didn't last: This Monday, Gossip Girl and 90210 bounced back with big numbers, giving the CW its best Monday viewership of the season.

Crunching the Numbers
While the networks aired a lot of repeats last week, cable originals were looking good. AMC's The Walking Dead is showing a True Blood–like ability to grow its viewership week-to-week; it was once again cable's No. 1 series by a mile. But FX's Sons of Anarchy also remains massive: It was the only other cable drama to make the top ten last week with viewers under 50. USA Network, however, continues to have the broadest appeal of basic cablers: It was the No. 1 entertainment net last week in both viewers and adults 18 to 49.

As for the broadcasters, ABC's attempt to put Dancing With the Stars on ice pretty much flopped: Last week's premiere of Skating With the Stars lost a huge chunk of its lead-in; this week's second episode, without the boost from DWTS, barely made a blip in the numbers. Also tanking: prime-time music specials. Heavily hyped infomercials for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé did terribly on Thanksgiving; for the record, Taylor drew a few more overall viewers than Beyoncé, but Jay-Z's better half rated higher with folks under 50.

Photo: AMC