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Fall season begins: 'Dancing' tops, 'The Event' surprises, 'Lone Star' disappoints

dancing with the starsUPDATED: And we're off! The fall broadcast season got underway Monday night with a triumphant return for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," solid ratings debuts for several new shows and one Texas-sized disappointment.

-- "Dancing With the Stars" (21.3 million viewers, 5.1 adults 18-49 rating) returned up 24% from last fall and gave ABC the highest-rated show on the season's opening night (videos here). "Dancing" drew a younger-than-usual audience, marking its best-ever fall premiere among teens. Though even the inspired casting of Bristol Palin and The Situation couldn't overthrow last spring's Kate Gosselin-fueled opener. Last fall: 4.1 adult-demo rating / Spring: 6.4.

-- CBS' "Hawaii Five-0" (14.2 million, 3.9) opened strong, though not as big as expectations. While easily winning 10 p.m., the heavily promoted debut didn't built from its lead-in and fell slightly after its first half hour. Last fall's premiere-week rating in the time period were also higher: 4.3 ("CSI: Miami," which has been moved to Sunday nights this fall).

-- The critically acclaimed "Lone Star" (4.1 million, 1.3) was expected to have an uphill battle drawing viewers, but not this much trouble. The thoughtful cable-style drama ended up with a cable-sized rating. Moreover, the show dropped a very steep 68% from its "House" lead-in. Last fall: 2.9 ("Lie to Me").

-- NBC's "The Event" (10.8 million, 3.6). Along with "Lone Star," this is the big surprise of the morning -- only positive. Expectations were all over the place for this "Lost"-meets-"24" drama, with some whispering that the show would bomb. "The Event" also grew its rating slightly from its first half hour to its second, which bodes well for next week. Last fall: 2.2 ("Trauma").

-- "Castle" (10.7 million, 2.7) posted significant gains, up 17% thanks to its strong "Dancing" lead-in and general improvement last season. Last fall: 2.3. 

-- CBS comedies: "How I Met Your Mother" (8.8 million, 3.6) was admirably flat, "Rules of Engagement" (8.3 million, 3.1) was down just slightly from last fall's "Accidentally on Purpose" opener in the time period and "Two and a Half Men" (14.6 million, 4.9) posted a healthy 10% gain. New Chuck Lorre comedy "Mike & Molly" (12.2 million, 3.9) was up 18% from the new kid on the block last fall ("Accidentally"), while down 17% from "Big Bang." Overall, CBS held together its comedy lineup despite the loss of its top-rated sitcom ("Big Bang") to Thursday nights. Last fall: 3.6 ("Mother"), 3.3 ("Accidentally on Purpose"), 4.5 ("Half Men") and 4.7 ("Big Bang"). 

hawaii five 0 1-- Fox's top-rated "House" (10.7 million, 4.2) was the highest-rated drama series of the night, but fell 37%. Last fall: 6.7.

-- NBC's "Chuck" (5.8 million, 2.0) was down from both the debut of "Heroes" in the slot last year and the premiere of "Chuck" last spring. Last fall: 2.8 ("Heroes") / Spring: 2.6 ("Chuck").

-- NBC's ratings dropped from "The Event" going into Jerry Bruckheimer's procedural thriller "Chase" (7.3 million, 2.4). "Chase" slipped slightly from its first to second half. Last fall: 5.3 ("Jay Leno Show").

-- Despite competition cranked to the extreme last night, The CW's "90210" (1.8 million, 0.9) and "Gossip Girl" (1.8 million, 1.0) held up well. 

Overall compared to last fall's opening night of the season, broadcast is actually down 20% on average, with the two networks that most needed a bump getting one. ABC rose 20%, NBC climbed 12%, CBS edged down 7% and Fox fell a whopping 60%. Also: DVR penetration is up 15% from last fall -- to 38%.