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6 YEARS

'Ghost' climbs; 'Terminator,' 'Dollhouse' sag

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"I hear Kevin Reilly. He's saying we suck"

CBS easily dominated Friday night with the top-rated "Ghost Whisperer" (11.6 million, 2.7 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and 9 share) climbing to enjoy one of its strongest numbers of the season. "Ghost" helped propel "Flashpoint" (9.2 million, 1.9/6) and "Numbers" (7.1 million, 2.1/6) to win their hours, too.

ABC was second with reality and news, while Fox tied NBC for third place with "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (3.4 million, 1.2/4), dropping a couple tenths of a rating point to another all-time low, and "Dollhouse" (4.1 million, 1.6/5), slipping a tenth this week.

Eliza Dushku recently told The Onion that the network has stopped trying to micro-manage creator Joss Whedon and, as a result, "Dollhouse" is about to hit its stride:

"I understand it from a business perspective, and from Fox’s view, but at the same time we’ve now done 13 episodes, and people have said that the show took offonce they finally realized that Joss is best off left alone to do histhing. That happens around episode six — six through 13 are justextraordinary. I love one, two, three, four, and five, but Joss’ firstscript that he did after the pilot is number six ... and it is just unbelievable. From that point on, theworld unfolds in Joss’ way, with Joss’ speed, and it’s really remarkable."

The show creatively takes off ... at episode six? Eliza, at this rate, there's hardly going to be anybody left to watch the show at episode six. Also, the read-between-the-lines on this is that after five episodes, Fox essentially threw up its hands and gave up. Which, yes, creatively, might be a good thing, but it's always a bit worrisome when your boss gets all quiet.

The blogosphere piling on re: new-kid-on-the-block "Dollhouse" ignores "Terminator," which is in a worse spot, but does have hope for, um, salvation, should the pending May theatrical release of McG's "Terminator Salvation" gets viewers excited about idea of watching stories in that universe again. Long shot, and the timing doesn't really work because "Salvation" will be released at the end of the season, but there you go. (The savior of "Dollhouse," by and by, could be its sure-to-be-significant DVR, iTunes and streaming data, which haven't yet been tallied and released.)

Also in a tough spot is NBC's "Friday Night Lights" (4.2 million, 1.5/5), the one 9 p.m. show that "Dollhouse" edged out in the adult demo. Remember when you couldn't read any entertainment press without being inundated with critics gushing about "Lights"? Not that you ever hear anything about, say, 10 p.m.-winning "Numbers," either, but its remarkable how this show went from media-clarion to media-crickets.

PREVIOUS: "Dollhouse" episode one ratings; episode two