CHANNEL SURFER: Ratings Report

The good news is, there’s plenty of room at the top, as a whopping 13 shows cracked TV’s Top Ten last week! The bad news is, we’re running out of Regis Philbin jokes. William Shatner If you’ve got any good Regis material, feel free to send us an e-mail and pass it along. If we use it, we’ll even print your name! Make your friends (the ones who think their Regis jokes are just sooo funny) insanely jealous! Or, even better, join the campaign to replace Regis as “Millionaire” host with William Shatner, ‘cuz we’ve got plenty of gas left in that particular tank.

Without further ado then, primetime’s Top Ten shows for the week of April 17-23, according to the fine folks at Nielsen Media Research. (Remember, each rating point is worth a little more than one million viewers.)

1.”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Tuesday), ABC – 17.0 A priest, a rabbi and Regis Philbin go into a bar, and a guys says, “Hey, that’s not U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, that’s my wife!” See, we need help. Badly.

2. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Thursday), ABC – 16.8 But perhaps more importantly, just imagine how dramatic this show could be if it were Shatner asking, “Is that your … final answer?”

3. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Sunday), ABC – 16.7 Or better still … Regis in the captain’s chair! “You Klingon bastard, you killed my son!” Or maybe just “… KHAAAAN!!!” (Please help.)

4. “The Practice,” ABC — 11.7 In this episode, a lawyer turned a dog bite into a huge cash settlement. Sounds pretty far-fetched to us. After all, what self-respecting lawyer would … Oh. OK. Nevermind.

5. “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS — 11.3 Well, clearly most people love him, anyway.

6. “NYPD Blue,” ABC — 10.4

7. “60 Minutes,” CBS – 10.3 In this episode, New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson espoused the belief that marijuana and heroin should be legal. When confronted on the issue by Ed Bradley, Johnson offered the following explanation: “What? Wait … hey, are you hungry at all?”

8. “ER,” NBC — 10.1

9. “20/20 Downtown,” ABC – 10.0 This was the episode when Mary Wilson, a former member of the famous singing group “… and the Supremes” finally spoke out about how Diana Ross stole the spotlight.

10. It’s a tie! “Becker,” CBS — 9.9 “Dharma and Greg,” ABC — 9.9 “Law and Order,” NBC — 9.9 “Touched by an Angel,” CBS — 9.9

In the overall network battle, ABC stayed on top with an average rating of 8.1. CBS narrowly edged out NBC, 7.4 to 7.3. Fox managed a 4.9. And UPN (2.7) continued to “lay the smack down,” so to speak, on the WB (2.1).

In other ratings news, “Ally McBeal” continues to be a strong draw for Fox. “Ally”‘s 8.7 gave the smaller net its first Top 20 show in a while against strong competition from CBS’s Monday comedies. Of course, any week now Fox’s “Greed” is going to really catch on and then we’ll see what a “national phenomenon” really looks like!