HBO's mission accomplished

Ferrell's Bush bash on Broadway garners strong ratings for pay cabler

"Will Ferrell: You're Welcome America — A Final Night With George W. Bush" drew HBO's largest audience for a comedy special in five years.

The first showing of "America" drew 2.3 million viewers, the most since "Chris Rock: Never Scared" in 2004.

Saturday night's spoof of the Bush years, filmed on Broadway, seemed to help the network's other programs, with Sunday night shows "Big Love" having its second-largest audience of the season (2.3 million) and "Eastbound & Down" garnering its biggest viewership yet (950,000). "Eastbound" is up 41% at this point compared with its lackluster season premiere.

HBO also might have helped put pressure on its premium cable competitor, with Showtime's "United States of Tara" hitting a season low (550,000 viewers).

On Monday, the second week of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" continued the reality competition's reign. The two-hour show (21.1 million viewers, 5.3 rating/ 14 share in adults 18-49) slipped 13% this round, a mild drop considering last week's premiere hit a five-year record high.

The second week of ABC's new drama series "Castle" (11 million, 2.9/8) held fairly steady in the adult demo despite its lead-in shrinking. The fact that 10 p.m. rival "Medium" aired a repeat almost certainly helped. (partialdiff)