'Bionic,' 'Private' come out swinging Wed.

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NEW YORK -- The fall season shifted into high gear Wednesday with the first heated showdown between NBC's "Bionic Woman" and ABC's "Private Practice." NBC's sci-fi drama prevailed in the coveted 18-49 demo, but ABC won the night overall, noticeably in total viewers and by a slim margin in the demo.

After lackluster freshman premieres so far, Wednesday produced three strong launches -- "Bionic," "Practice" and NBC's "Life," which to date rank as the top three new series among adults 18-49. Word wasn't that good for another new ABC drama, "Dirty Sexy Money," which got off to a slow start.

Despite NBC's dominating performance from 9-11 p.m. with "Bionic" and "Life," the Alphabet edged the Peacock by a tenth of a point to take its second nightly victory in the first three nights of the new TV season among the 18-49 demo. The network was bolstered by the third consecutive night of "Dancing With the Stars."

CBS' "Kid Nation" (7.6 million viewers, 2.8 rating/8 share in adults 18-49) and Fox's "Back to You" (7.5 million, 2.8/9) both showed declines from last week's premieres (9.4 million, 3.1/9 and 9.5 million, 3.2/10, respectively), bowing to ABC's "Dancing" (16.8 million, 4.1/12). "Dancing" was about even with fall 2006's results show, while "Kid" was up week-to-week in adults 18-34.

The 9 p.m. showdown between "Bionic Woman" and ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff -- along with the established "Criminal Minds" -- was won by "Bionic" (13.9 million, 5.7/14), which grew exponentially from its "Deal or No Deal" lead-in (8.9 million, 2.6/8) and logged NBC's best numbers for an NBC Wednesday series premiere since "The West Wing" in 1999.

"Practice" (14.4 million, 5.2/13) also did well, losing more than a million viewers in the half-hour but holding steady in adults 18-49. The season premiere of CBS' "Minds" (12.7 million, 3.5/9), with the last episode prominently featuring departing star Mandy Patinkin, couldn't keep up, slipping from last year's premiere by 22% in 18-49; neither could the second episode of Fox's "Kitchen Nightmares" (5.4 million, 2.5/6), which fell from last week (6.6 million, 3.1/8) against all-original competition.

NBC stayed in the game at 10 p.m. with a win for "Life" (9.9 million, 4.0/11). The Damian Lewis police drama won in the demo against ABC's "Dirty" (10.4 million, 3.6/10) and the season premiere of CBS' "CSI: NY" (12.7 million, 3.7/10), which was down 26% among 18-49 from last season's premiere.

"Dirty" was down 34% compared with last season's premiere of "Lost" in the same time period and down 22% from the Oct. 4, 2006, premiere of the short-lived "The Nine."

The CW's "America's Next Top Model" (4.8 million, 2.4/7) hung tough at 8 p.m. and posted a 7% gain in adults 18-34 versus last week's season premiere, but the new drama "Gossip Girl" (2.5 million, 1.1/3) took a hit in its second outing at 9 p.m.

ABC (13.9 million, 4.3/11) won Wednesday's primetime in both viewership and adults 18-49, the latter just a shade higher than NBC (11 million, 4.1/11), which was followed by CBS (11 million, 3.3/9), Fox (6.1 million, 2.5/7) and the CW (3.7 million, 1.8/5).
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