ABC is clicking its heels again

'Dancing' returns net to top; 'Heroes' still sturdy

After a near-summerlong hiatus from the top of the ratings heap, ABC waltzed back into the lead with Monday's return of "Dancing With the Stars," while NBC's "Heroes" was on track to win in adults 18-49.

ABC was the only network of the Big Four to show premiere-night increases in viewership and adults 18-49 for the night thanks to "Dancing" (21.2 million viewers, 5.8 rating/15 share in adults 18-49) from 8-9:30 p.m., according to Nielsen Media Research. "Dancing" was up year-over-year from last fall (20.2 million, 5.7/15) but down compared with the spring (21.8 million, 6.4/16).

It likely was beaten in adults 18-49 by "Heroes," which averaged 14.1 million viewers and a 6.5/15 in the preliminary estimates. But because a new Nielsen rule will allow "Heroes" to add incremental viewing from Saturday's replay, Monday night's rating won't be reported until next Tuesday. "Heroes" was even in viewership compared with last year's season premiere but was up in adults 18-49 from the series premiere's 5.9/14.

As for the rest of NBC's lineup, the jury's still out. The heavily hyped "Chuck" (9.2 million, 3.6/9) came in second place at 8 p.m., not exactly overwhelming but giving NBC hope that it would build on its audience and gain eyeballs ahead of "Heroes." It came out ahead of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" (8.1 million, 3.2/9) and the series premiere of the network's "The Big Bang Theory" (9.5 million, 3.7/9). "Mother" was down in adults 18-49 compared with last season's premiere (3.8/10), while "Big Bang" built on its lead-in and performed slightly above "The Class" (3.6/10) when it premiered last season at 8:30 p.m. Fox's "Prison Break" (7.5 million, 3.3/9) was about even with last week.

CBS' comedic centerpiece "Two and a Half Men" (13.6 million, 4.8/11) was down only slightly from last year's season premiere (5.0/12), when it didn't have to compete against "Dancing." The Eye's "Rules of Engagement" (12.2 million, 4.5/10) was up compared with its time-period premiere, though it was off its season premiere. Fox dropped sharply at 9 p.m. with the second episode of the New Orleans police drama "K-Ville" (6.1 million, 2.3/5).

It's no surprise that the return of CBS' "CSI: Miami" (15.1 million, 4.6/12) prevailed against the last hour of ABC's "The Bachelor" (9.2 million, 3.5/9) as well as NBC's premiere of "Journeyman" (9.2 million, 3.5/9). But "CSI: Miami" was down sharply from last season's premiere of 17.6 million viewers and a 5.8/15. It fell to its third-smallest total audience for an original episode since the show debuted in 2002 and the smallest adults 18-49 rating for an original in the show's history.

"Journeyman" was unable to persuade "Heroes' " viewers to stick around, with viewership declining by more than a million viewers from 10-10:30 p.m.

ABC (15.2 million, 4.6/12) led all networks, with CBS (12.2 million, 4.3/11) taking second place depending on the demo. NBC's (9.2 million, 3.6/9) ratings were without "Heroes," and Fox (6.8 million, 2.7/7) came in fourth, followed by the CW (1.7 million, 0.7/2).