'Dancing' bounces back

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The eighth edition of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" had the most-watched premiere in the show's history, dramatically reversing a two-year slide.

The "Dancing" kickoff was seen by 22.8 million viewers and earned a 5.9 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and 15 share. Its adult demo rating is up 9% from last fall's premiere and 5% from last spring. This is first time a "Dancing" premiere has climbed in the ratings since 2007.

The show's producers had to scramble after dancing celebs Nancy O'Dell and Jewel dropped out last week. But the eleventh-hour casting of scorned "Bachelor" contestant Melissa Rycroft was wise move that not only capitalized on the dating competition’s success this season, but also managed to extend ABC's Monday night reality show "story" from one series to another. Complete with a judge praising Rycroft's performance and dissing her ex-fiance Jason Mesnick, last night's "Dancing" debut played like a feel-good "Bachelor" finale do-over, with Cinderella finally going to the ball.

"Dancing" led in to the series premiere of new Nathan Fillion mystery comedy "Castle" (10.8 million, 3.0/8). "Castle" placed second in the hour, and outperformed the average of "Boston Legal" in the time period, but was below the year-ago debut of "Bachelor: London" in the spot.
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