On a night that saw the heavily hyped returns of two alien life-forms — the visitors of ABC’s V and Paula Abdul of Planet Straight-Up Crazy — the evening’s biggest ratings winner turned out to be NBC’s little-drama-that-could, Parenthood. Before we get to the heartwarming news, however, let’s survey the meh-ness that is V: While not a total disaster, Tuesday’s return managed to attract just 6.6 million viewers and average a 2.1 rating among adults 18 to 49. ABC pointed out that viewership for V “surged” 20 percent from the show’s May finale, but in the young-adult demo that matters most to the network, V was pretty much flat — despite a focused two-month promotional campaign and decidedly weaker competition than in the spring. And compared to last fall’s series premiere, V has lost 60 percent of its original audience. However, as we suspected might happen, V was still the best performer on ABC’s weak-sauce Tuesday lineup: No Ordinary Family did a 1.9 in adults 18 to 49, while Detroit 1-8-7 earned a series-worst 1.2. If V has found its bottom, then it might hang around a while, and maybe even earn a third season, but if it slips more than 10 percent or so in the next week or two, the lizards will be leapin’ off the air.
As for Ms. Abdul’s return in CBS’s short-run reality competition Live to Dance, it actually did okay, though its numbers aren’t going to make Fox execs regret not paying Abdul the money she wanted to stay with Idol. Dance was seen by just over 10 million viewers during its two-hour premiere Tuesday, winning its time slot. The show’s 2.4 rating in adults 18 to 49 was respectable, if not particularly explosive. It seems the young folks preferred NBC’s The Biggest Loser, which dominated the 8 to 10 p.m. block with a 3.3 demo rating (but just 8.7 million overall viewers). The latest Loser didn’t carry as much weight as last year’s winter/spring edition, however: Ratings are off 28 percent versus last January’s debut. Still, Loser did provide a nice lead-in the aforementioned Parenthood. NBC’s warm and cuddly family drama earned a 2.3 in the under-50 demo, winning the 10 p.m. hour and jumping 20 percent versus its last original broadcast in November. While the fact that CBS’s The Good Wife wasn’t on certainly helped boost Parenthood, the show clearly has found its groove with audiences and seems to have become a keeper for the Peacock.