- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Boston ratings party

The improbable, curse-breaking victory by the Boston Red Sox last week delivered young viewers to Fox in droves.

The World Series run vaulted Fox into the lead among the coveted 18- to 49-year-old TV viewers this season, Associated Press reports.

So far this year, Fox is averaging 5.4 million of these youthful viewers in prime time. But three rivals are right on Fox’s heels: CBS at 5.3 million, ABC at 5 million and NBC at 4.9 million, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Fox faces a tough couple of months without baseball, but it can count on “American Idol’s” return in January.

Among all viewers, CBS is dominant so far this season. With 29.6 million people tuning in to “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” last week, CBS was the most popular network overall.

ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” continues to gather momentum, scoring a series-best 22.1 million viewers, Nielsen said.

For the week, CBS averaged 13.5 million viewers (8.8 rating, 14 share). Fox had 11.3 million (7.3, 12), ABC 10.1 million (6.4, 10), NBC 9.3 million (6.2, 10), the WB 3.9 million (2.6, 4), UPN 3.8 million (2.5, 4) and Pax TV 650,000 (0.4, 1).

A ratings point represents 1,096,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Oct. 25-31, the top five shows and their networks and viewerships: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 29.6 million; World Series Game 4: Boston vs. St. Louis, Fox, 28.8 million; World Series Game 3: Boston vs. St. Louis, Fox, 24.4 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 22.1 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 22.1 million.

Back to ‘The O.C.’

The wait is over for fans of last year’s breakout suds-fest, “The O.C.”

The Fox style guide set to the usual teen angst returns for its second season at 8 p.m. tonight.

Fox hasn’t had much luck with original programming apart from its “American Idol” reality-show marvel in recent years, but the snarky tale set in sun-drenched Orange County hit a nerve with the navel-ring set.

Those who couldn’t figure out what all the fuss was about can pick up the just-released “The O.C.: The Complete First Season,” now on DVD. The set features 27 episodes, deleted scenes, the usual commentaries — this time from show creator Josh Schwartz — and a peek at season two.

‘Two Fox hits

Fox’s returns two marquee shows to its Sunday lineup this weekend.

“Arrested Development,” fresh from its Emmy win for best comedy, starts at 8:30 p.m. Sunday. The droll anti-sitcom following the dysfunctional Bluth family doesn’t start season two with the kind of runaway gags needed to draw new viewers. Just hang in there until the final 10 minutes, and all the comic loose ends come together for a few solid belly laughs.

“The Simpsons,” on the other hand, is nearing the end of its creative rope, and no one is willing to let the show retire. It’s first fresh episode, part of its ongoing “Treehouse of Horror” series, puts the show’s characters in ghoulish settings to celebrate Halloween. The show, airing at 8 p.m. Sunday, offers a few laughs and the usual rapid-fire sight gags, but the Halloween episodes are never the show’s strongest.

Overlooked ‘Hill’

John Altschuler, an executive producer with Fox’s “King of the Hill,” says the typical Hollywood portrayal of Southerners comes from movies such as “Mississippi Burning” — “dumb rednecks trying to hurt people.”

“King of the Hill” couldn’t be further from that. The sitcom, which starts its ninth season at 7 p.m. Sunday on Fox, offers a genial portrait of Southern living.

The show carries on the tradition of “The Andy Griffith Show,” Mr. Altschuler says.

“When you watched ‘Andy Griffith,’ it’s making fun of these small-town Southerners but done from people who know and like who they are,” he says. “You have characters you’re not ridiculing.”

It’s no accident that the show nails small-town living.

Once a year, the minds behind Fox’s “King of the Hill” leave their cozy California confines to visit Texas and “soak up the atmosphere,” he says.

This season, viewers will see appearances by Brendan Fraser, Johnny Knoxville and OutKast rapper Big Boi.

Along the way, “Hill” will tackle government conspiracy issues and religion, but Mr. Altschuler doesn’t expect any outcries from special-interest groups.

“Although we deal with every social issue imaginable, we’re not a political show. It’s a common-sense, middle-American view of the world,” he says.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports

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