CHANNEL SURFER: Ratings Report

It’s a week of superstars returning to the Top Ten! Dennis Franz is back, after a lengthy custody battle with Sela Ward over the 10 p.m. Tuesday timeslot. Many people apparently still love Raymond, even though he was starting to think, maybe … you know, there might be someone else. And it’s good to know that a classic clash of wills between Charlton “let my people go” Heston and Yul “let’s see them make bricks without straw” Brynner can still pack ’em in front of the TV, year after year.

Here now, for your edification and amusement are the Top Ten shows of the past week in TV, according to the fine people at Nielsen Media Research (each rating point represents a little more than a million viewers).

1. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Tuesday, ABC – 18.7) ABC executives, concerned about losing some of their regular Sunday audience, actually had a plan to digitally insert Regis into the “The Ten Commandments.” When Ramses says to Moses, “I will not let your people go,” Regis was supposed to jump out from behind the Pharaoh’s throne and forcefully demand, “Is that your final answer?” Thankfully, Regis thought this was in poor taste and refused.

2. “ER” (Thursday, NBC – 18.2) Last week they knocked off No. 1. But this week’s plot, “Dr. Greene must provide ‘intimate’ care for his crotchety and humiliated father,” just wasn’t quite sexy enough to pull off another upset.

3. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Thursday, ABC – 17.7) This is where the “Daddio” audience is rushing off to just as “Frasier” is coming on.

4. “Friends” (Thursday, NBC – 12.8) And this is where the “Daddio” audience actually comes from.

5. “Dharma & Greg” (Tuesday, ABC – 12.1) Again, you have no problem sticking around after Regis for this show, but when “Sports Night” was on at 9:30, you always had to floss your teeth! And now look what happened! “Talk to Me” finished in the Top 20 in their old spot! You know, we’re starting to think that maybe you don’t even like “Sports Night.”

6. “60 Minutes” (Sunday, CBS – 11.0) In an exclusive interview, Dan Rather was finally able to ask Juan Miguel Gonzales (father of famous Miami Dolphins fan and budding non-Communist Elian) the two questions that have been burning a hole in the minds of Americans everywhere. Namely, “how dare you be from Cuba?” and “what possible justification can you offer to Americans everywhere for wanting to raise your own son?”

7. “Daddio” (Thursday, NBC – 10.9) How is it that guys such as Daddio, or Bob Newhart for that matter, always have really hot wives? Is it because Daddio is going to play Curly in the Three Stooges movie next week? Is that what brings in the babes?

8. “The Ten Commandments” (Sunday, ABC – 10.8) And the Lord said unto Philbin, “Let my time slot go!” And he did, and it was good.

9. “NYPD Blue” (Tuesday, ABC – 10.7)

10. “Everybody Love’s Raymond” (Monday, CBS – 10.0) Well, of course they do, honey. And you just keep on saying that, over and over again until the bad voices stop. And in other ratings news …

ABC’s “Once and Again” did an 8.8 on Monday night, continuing its dominance over all other shows with “… and Again” in their titles. “Now and Again” on CBS finished second with a 5.5 and MSNBC’s “Time and Again” was a distant third.