'24' guns a-blazin'

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After 18 months off the air, the return of Fox's "24" as a two-hour stand-alone movie was the highest-rated scripted program Sunday night.

The final title disrupted by the WGA strike to reappear on broadcast television, "24: Redemption" was seen by 12 million viewers and hit a 4.0 preliminary rating among adults 18-49.

The "24" event was up 3% from the show's most recent original episode (the Season 6 finale in May 2007) while facing intense competition from NBC's "Sunday Night Football" and ABC's presentation of the American Music Awards. Compared with the show's season premieres, however, "Redemption" came up short: The program was rated lower than any "24" premiere and down 34% compared with the show's 2007 bow.

Nonetheless, the figure represents a solid performance that could prime viewers for the regular series when it returns in January.

Fox was in first place for the night, with "24" boosted by some heavy-scoring NFL overrun early in the evening.

ABC placed second with a successful presentation of the 36th annual AMAs (12.2 million, 5.1).

NBC was third, with "Sunday Night Football" (12.3 million, 4.7) as the Indianapolis Colts defeated the San Diego Chargers in a thriller that was decided on the final play of regulation.

CBS had to settle for fourth place. (partialdiff)
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