CBS vs. NBC: Thursday night's ratings rumble

'Big Bang Theory,' '$#*!' take on 'Community,' '30 Rock'

Premiere week continued Tuesday with the return of Fox's "Glee," but the most-anticipated ratings battle wages Thursday night when CBS unleashes a "Big Bang" on rival NBC.

Thursday night's clash represents an attempt by CBS to gain a comedy-block foothold in what traditionally has been NBC's territory. TV's top-rated comedy "The Big Bang Theory" will face NBC's "Community," and the Twitter-inspired sitcom "$#*! My Dad Says" goes up against Emmy favorite "30 Rock." The two geek-friendly CBS shows could be dubbed "Must-Tweet TV."

There's seldom been more curiosity about a fight whose winner seemed almost certain. The question isn't whether CBS will win the hour, but by how much -- and how its presence will affect NBC. If CBS' plan succeeds, the network eventually could shift "CSI" out of the 9 p.m. anchor slot -- just like it has with the rest of its "CSI" spinoffs -- and set up a two-hour comedy block on TV's most lucrative night for advertising revenue.

The Peacock isn't going down easy. "Community" has fandom-favorite Betty White as a guest star for its premiere. The network is also airing a pre-telecast "Twittersode," an 80-tweet scene acted out on the Twitter feeds devoted to the show's characters, just before air.

As for Tuesday, Fox's pop TV phenomenon "Glee" came back big in the ratings. The Season 2 debut delivered 12.5 million viewers and a 5.6 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic. That's the show's second-highest-rated episode ever and up 60% from its premiere last fall. "Glee" ranked as the highest-rated show of the night.

The "Glee" rating comes despite the musical comedy launching Fox's lineup at 8 p.m. instead of receiving a lead-in at 9 p.m. like last year.

As expected, Fox's new sitcoms "Raising Hope" (7.3 million, 3.1) and "Running Wilde" (5.6 million, 2.4) were a significant step down from "Glee" but still made fair use of the powerful lead-in. Both shows marked an improvement upon "So You Think You Can Dance" in the slot last year.

CBS placed second with the procedural tag team of "NCIS" (19.4 million, 4.0) and a two-hour "NCIS: Los Angeles" (14.7 million, 3.2). One wouldn't think "Glee" would necessarily cut into the crime drama, but "NCIS" was down 17% -- though it still ranked as the night's most-watched show. "LA" fell a steeper 27%.

In third, ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" results show (18.5 million, 4.4) kept up the reality hit's strong pace and was on par with last year. (The network aired a recap special of Monday's program at 8 p.m.) The show offered up a big push to new police drama "Detroit 1-8-7" (9.3 million, 2.3), but it was down 12% from "The Forgotten" in the slot last fall. In the demo, "Detroit" was just below the second week of NBC's "Parenthood" (5.8 million, 2.5) at 10 p.m., with the NBC dramedy slipping a slight 7% for Week 2.

In fourth, NBC's two-hour premiere of "The Biggest Loser" (7.2 million, 2.9) fell to its lowest-rated premiere ever. The usually ultra-stable performer was down 24%, though last fall it debuted a week earlier against less competition.

On the CW, "One Tree Hill" (1.9 million, 0.9) and "Life Unexpected" (1.5 million, 0.7) dipped.