'NCIS,' 'Mentalist' lead CBS to win

Network on top in viewers, demo for the week

In the second week of the broadcast season, CBS seized the ratings high thanks to a strong across-the-board lineup of competitive performers.

CBS won the week in the adult demo and total viewers, placing first among adults 18-49 on four nights and landing three shows in the top 10. The network overthrew last week's winner ABC, whose top-rated "Grey's Anatomy" was pre-empted Thursday by the vice presidential debate. Still, CBS has yet to debut its highest-rated show, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," which returns Thursday opposite "Grey's."

CBS (averaging 11 million viewers and 3.1 rating/9 share in the key adults 18-49 demographic) was led by a slightly down "Two and a Half Men" (13.6 million, 4.7/11) and a steady "Survivor: Gabon" (13.1 million, 4.5/12), but the most compelling data came from the network's Tuesday and Saturday lineups. Tuesday's "NCIS" (17.5 million, 3.5/10) was the second most-watched show of the week despite going against Fox's "House"
 (13 million, 5.4/15), while promising series "The Mentalist" (15.5 million, 3.6/9) climbed a notch from its season premiere. On Saturday, CBS placed second for the night with its ultimate fighting special "EliteEXC" (4.6 million, 2.0/6).

But CBS stumbled Friday with the premiere of "The Ex-List" (6.8 million, 2.0/6), which was down from the debut of "Moonlight" in the slot last year. The network still won the night but showed some weakness on what traditionally has been a strong evening for the network.

ABC and NBC tied for second, with ABC led by "Desperate Housewives" (15.7 million, 5.8/13), which ranked as television's highest-rated show. ABC's headlines were dominated by the premieres of "Pushing Daisies" (6.3 million, 2.0/6), "Private Practice" (8.2 million, 3.3/8) and "Dirty Sexy Money" (7 million, 2.4/7) returning significantly lower after having been off the air since December.

NBC's "Sunday Night Football" (14.2 million, 5.5/14) telecast was the second-highest-rated for the week, with "Heroes" (9.5 million, 4.5/11) winning Monday despite some ratings decline. The new series "Knight Rider" (7.8 million, 2.4/7) has continued to hold steady on Wednesdays, while "Life" demonstrated dramatically different numbers airing Monday (6.9 million, 2.7/7) rather than Friday (5.5 million, 1.7/5).

Fourth-place Fox continues to win Tuesdays with "House" and a steady "Fringe" (9.9 million, 4.2/11), but Mondays haven't been easy for the network, with "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (5.4 million, 2.0/5) eroding.

On the CW, veteran Monday series "One Tree Hill" (3.4 million 1.9/4) managed to top "Gossip Girl" (3.4 million 1.8/5) as the network's highest-rated scripted series.