- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

‘Idol’ soars

Fox hit the high notes with its three telecasts of “American Idol” to win in the prime-time ratings last week, while runner-up CBS scored with several dramas, including a brand-new one, in the Nielsen face-off, Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, premium-cable HBO’s much-anticipated — after a 21-month hiatus — season premiere of “The Sopranos” attracted 9.5 million viewers when pitted against the ABC hit “Desperate Housewives.” That’s down from the 12.1 million viewers who tuned in to the return of the mob drama for its fifth season in 2004. But for HBO, which is available in about 30 percent of the nation’s TV homes, that was in a less competitive pre-“Desperate Housewives” environment.

In broadcast competition, three of the week’s four most-watched shows were “American Idol” editions, with CBS’ “Crime Scene Investigation” wedged into third place.

Fox averaged 13.5 million viewers for the week, followed by CBS with 12.6 million, ABC with 9.1 million and NBC with 8.3 million. Univision had 3.9 million, the WB averaged 2.4 million, UPN had 3.2 million, Telemundo had 950,000 and Pax TV had 580,000.

The top five shows, their networks and viewerships for the week of March 6 through 12 were: “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 30.38 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 28.56 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 27.16 million; “American Idol” (Thursday), Fox, 26.63 million; and “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 22.51 million.

Loopy’ fun

We’re still scratching our heads over its title, but Fox’s new comedy “The Loop” reaffirms the case for making the sitcom laugh track a relic of the past.

The new comedy (debuting tonight at 9:30) follows a bright go-getter named Sam (Bret Harrison of “Grounded for Life” fame) who is the youngest executive ever at a major airline. Others in his life aren’t as driven. His roommate Sully, played by “Dumb and Dumberer’s” Eric Christian Olsen (who knew he’d ever work again after that debacle?), is your typical slacker. Fellow housemate Piper (Amanda Loncar) is our hero’s longtime crush, one of those gorgeous women who don’t have a clue that the boys like Sam — who provide them with such special friendships — have ulterior motives for doing so.

Tonight’s premiere finds Sam struggling to come up with cost-saving plans for his dyspeptic boss (character actor Philip Baker Hall, letting it all rip in a surprisingly hilarious turn), all the while hoping that Piper finally will call it quits with her long-distance beau.

The humor in “The Loop” relies on crass double entendres, but the series effectively captures Sam’s ambivalence toward growing up when his twentysomething pals refuse to follow his lead.

Compiled by Robyn Denise Yourse and Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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