CHANNEL SURFER: Ratings Report

Down goes Regis! Down goes Regis! New champion! New champion! NBC shocks the world! Sure, in the TV ratings week that was, Regis still had two shows in the Top Five, but NBC showed some real fire to start off the May sweeps, placing six shows in the Top Ten, none of which were specials, and one of which wasn’t even on Thursday night!

Here are the Top 10 primetime shows for the week of April 24-30, according the fine people at Nielsen Media Research. (Each rating point is equal to a little more than 1 million viewers.)

1. “ER,” NBC – 19.6 This is the culmination of a red-hot Thursday for NBC — a night that saw the network place five shows in the Top 10 and at least five NBC executives dance around in their underwear. Fortunately, a camera crew captured the whole thing, and you will get to see it as part of a “reality-based” special on Fox called “Who Is Responsible for ‘Caroline in the City?’ — The Best Evidence Ever Caught On Tape.”

2. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Tuesday), ABC -17.0 This guest Regis joke comes from loyal reader Walden: “Regis will be seeing an acting coach during the upcoming hiatus to help perfect ‘feigning interest’ while contestants piece together the trail of logic they used to answer $1,000 questions like, ‘Which of the following is NOT your name?'”

3. “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Thursday), ABC – 16.0 And this stunning revelation comes from Bonny: “After a surprise announcement to stockholders of a joint venture between Disney and the Hollywood Wax Museum, it was revealed that famous game-show host Regis Philbin is actually the escaped prototype of an animatronic robot. The whereabouts of the actual Philbin are as yet unknown, but Disney officials stress that such robots were certainly not intended to replace human beings with ‘mindless worker drones,’ nor are they part of any ‘hypothetical plans’ to ‘conquer’ or ‘rule the world or anything.'”

4. “Friends,” NBC – 14.7 We’re not going to try to follow that.

5. “Frasier” (9 p.m., Thursday), NBC – 14.4

6. (tie) “Frasier” (9:30 p.m., Thursday), NBC – 13.0 6. (tie) “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” (Sunday), ABC – 13.0 A “Millionaire” installment not in the Top Five?!?! Regis is said to be unfazed and is continuing ahead with his plans, which according to those close to him, having nothing at all to do with “squashing the human infestation beneath his iron feet.” We love Bonny.

8. “Just Shoot Me” (Thursday), NBC – 12.9

9. “Law and Order,” NBC – 12.8

10. “Touched by an Angel,” CBS – 11.8

In the overall battle, NBC opened up the important sweeps period by leap-frogging over CBS and going from third to first, tying long-reigning champ ABC with an 8.9 average rating. CBS was up slightly from last week with a 7.7. Fox climbed closer with a 5.4. And UPN (2.7) just barely held off the WB (2.6).

In other ratings news, word is getting out about NBC’s “The West Wing,” as the freshman drama drew its first Top 15 finish.

WB’s decision, meanwhile, to move struggling “Felicity” (No. 104) to Wednesday has helped the netlet get closer to rival UPN — and it may also have just saved a pretty good show. You know, there’s another little show out there aiming for the teen/twentysomething demographic that could use a home now. “Freaks and Geeks” probably hasn’t even finished packing since getting canned by NBC. Could be a good pickup.