CHANNEL SURFER: Ratings Report

Remember when the Who said, “Meet the new boss! Same as the old boss!” And then Keith Moon kicked in his drum set just before it exploded (and Pete Townsend smashed his guitar just before losing most of his hearing)? Isn’t it funny how relevant something like that can be today? Anyway, here’s an annotated list of the Top 10 primetime shows for the TV week ending April 2, according to the fine folks at Nielsen Media Research. (Each rating point equals a little more than 1 million homes.)

1. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Tuesday), ABC – 19.4 After a week off thanks to the Oscars, back to No. 1. Meet the new boss …

2. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Thursday), ABC – 18.8 Same as the … Oh, forget it. It’s not that relevant, and it’s not even that funny. But try coming up with fresh observations about this freakin’ show every week, and see if you don’t start reaching a little bit!

3. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (Sunday), ABC – 16.6 Of course, this computer is still going through the window at the end of this column. That’s gonna be cool.

4. “The Practice,” ABC – 13.9 This was the “Black Widows” episode, in which a woman (Victoria Principal) was accused of murdering her husband by “intercoursing him to death.” That’s not a joke, we just thought it would be fun to point out.

5. “60 Minutes,” CBS – 12.8 This episode featured a special report about how American Indians are being cheated by the U.S government, which may have “lost” billions of dollars of their money. Of course, government officials would never really be that negligent or insensitive. They probably just forgot to mail the check what with all the excitement about getting Redskins tickets for the weekend.

6. “Touched by an Angel,” CBS – 11.9

7. “Friends,” NBC – 11.9

8. “Law and Order,” NBC – 10.7

9. “Daddio,” NBC – 10.6 Still in the Top 10 despite that commercial featuring “Daddio” Michael Chiklis playing a toy guitar with his teeth.

10. (tie) “Dharma & Greg,” ABC – 10.5 When rerun comedies that aren’t “Friends” make the Top 10, you know Regis was involved in some way. In this case, he was “Dharma’s” lead-in. What, you couldn’t stick around a little longer Tuesday for “Sports Night?”

10. (tie) “JAG,” CBS – 10.5 Overall, the network battle was a lot closer despite ABC’s continued dominance. The alphabet took the crown with a down-to-earth (by its standards) 9.3 average rating. CBS regained second place and pulled dangerously close with an 8.3. NBC was off last week’s pace just a bit, with a 7.5, good for third. Fox was up a bit, despite placing not a single show in the Top 20, with a 5.6. And UPN (2.6) continued to dominate the WB (2.1) in their own private war of the baby networks.

In other ratings developments:

ABC’s new drama “Wonderland” did well in its Thursday premiere, taking advantage of an “ER” rerun to score a very respectable Top 25 finish.

Hot on the heels of its XFL deal with NBC, the World Wrestling Federation continued to act like it’s going to be around for a while, grabbing a massive (for the affiliate-challenged UPN) 5.3 rating for Thursday’s edition of “Smackdown!”