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Bloody good bow for 'Dexter'

Showtime series' Season 3 opener draws 1.2 mil

Showtime's "Dexter" slayed 1.2 million viewers in its Season 3 premiere.

The episode, airing at 9 p.m. Sunday, was an improvement over the drama series' Season 2 bow (1 million) a year ago and Dec. 16 season finale (also 1 million) and came in slightly under the show's most-watched episode ever (1.23 million on Nov. 28). Sunday's heavily promoted premiere, which comes following a spring run for the show's first season on corporate sibling CBS, aired on a competitive night that essentially marked the final day of the broadcasters' premiere week.

After "Dexter," returning comedy "Californication" averaged 522,000 viewers, off from its series premiere (550,000). However, Showtime pointed out that the show was made available on-demand two weeks before its premiere and the series bow aired in August, before the broadcast networks kicked off their fall seasons.

In other premium cable ratings news, HBO's new drama "True Blood," which airs at 9 p.m. Sundays, has shown a slight uptick in each of its four weeks on the air, averaging 1.82 million viewers this week vs. 1.81 million a week ago. With DVR, on-demand and repeat data factored in, the series' first two episodes are averaging 5.9 million each.

At 10 p.m., HBO comedy "Entourage" is holding steady this season at 1.6 million viewers, followed by the debut of new sketch-comedy series "Little Britain" at 10:30 p.m. with 540,000 viewers. HBO's new animated comedy "The Life & Times of Tim" averaged 299,000 viewers in its debut at 11 p.m. Sunday.

Also on Sunday, AMC's "Mad Men," this year's Emmy winner for best drama, saw a slight dip in the week after the awards show telecast. The drama, which airs at 10 p.m. Sundays, averaged 1.6 million viewers vs. 1.9 million two weeks earlier (a repeat aired Emmy night, Sept. 21).

Meanwhile, USA Network was king of the third quarter, winning the basic cable crown in primetime among total viewers (averaging 2.8 million) and the adults 18-49 demo (1.3 million).