This week at the Nielsens, TV's Top 10 featured three sitcoms, one drama and one news magazine; the Top Five featured one game show -- guess which one? Is that your final answer? If we told you that Fox even hyped "Greed" with a special promotional stunt, would that change your answer? It would? Okay, then can we interest you in this lovely faux diamond pendant?
Here's an annotated look at the Top 10 prime-time shows for the TV week of Feb. 28-March 5, according to Nielsen Media Research. (Each rating point represents a little more than 1 million TV homes.)
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (Wednesday), ABC - 20.7 rating You know, everybody enjoys a good "phenomenon" now and again, but we're starting to run out of Regis jokes here.
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (Tuesday), ABC - 20 Maybe you've heard this one before, but come on, really... Who doesn't want to be a millionaire?
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (Monday), ABC - 18.8 If you didn't think that last one was funny, don't worry, we've still got plenty of chances to come up with something.
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (Thursday), ABC - 18.4 Remember when Regis was only on TV for one hour, five days a week? Now that he's on for one hour, five nights a week, too... Well, it's just that much better, isn't it? Isn't it?
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (Sunday), ABC - 17.5 Now if we could just get Rosie O'Donnell a primetime game show, too, everything would finally be perfect!
"60 Minutes," CBS - 13.9 Note to ABC - You know that there are seven days in a week, right? We could have gone for a couple more "Millionaire" hours, easy.
"Friends," NBC - 12.6 Hey look, a sitcom! v "Law And Order," NBC - 12.5 Hey look, a cop-and-lawyer show!
"Drew Carey," ABC - 12.0 Sorry, that was a typo. We meant to say "Regis Philbin."
"Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS - 11.6 Well, a few people love Raymond, anyway. The truth is, everybody has kind of a wandering eye, and it's wandered on over to a certain someone... You know who... He's short, kind of feisty, wears menacing-looking suits, looks like he wears a toupee but really he doesn't (as far as you know)... Say it! You know you love him! Go on and say it...! Meanwhile, in the overall battle between the networks Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game's over. I'm outta here.... Okay, guess who won? Is that your final answer? If we told you that NBC aired several hours of the most lavishly epic mini-series in the last 10 years, would that change your answer? It would? Even if we told you it was "The 10th Kingdom?" You know, we don't do this for just anybody, but you've got a nice face, so... Can we interest you in acre or two of National Park land in the beautiful Grand Canyon at a very special one-time-only price?
(Okay, just in case we can't interest you, here's how the network race really stacked up: ABC took the week with an average 10.9 household rating; CBS (8.5), NBC (7.5), Fox (5.9), UPN (2.6) and the WB (2.5) trailed -- badly. Wow. That wasn't even close, was it?
In other ratings news:
-- After an eight-year hiatus (that's got to be some kind of record), the comedy series "Grapevine" returned from the dead on CBS last Monday and did Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game's over. I'm outta here.... well, let's call it pretty okay. Now, the show did enjoy CBS' best sitcom lead in, following "Everybody Loves Raymond." And while "Grapevine" couldn't quite hold onto "Raymond's" Top 10 numbers, its 7.7 rating was good enough for 40th place and it still performed better than CBS' other Monday comedies, "King of Queens" and "Becker."
-- On the game-show front, none of Fox's three episodes of "Greed" managed to crack the Top Fifty, scoring a 6.9, 6.3 and a 5.9 rating respectively. That's a little above the network's average for the week, but still ... So, let's get this straight: "Greed" has an equally (if not more) menacing set than "Millionaire," and NBC's "Twenty-One" has an equally (if not more) effusive talk-show guy as host. Are you telling us that Chuck Woolery and Maury Povich combined still don't add up to one Reeg? Really? Is that your final answer?
-- Most people will tell you that appearance isn't important, that a good personality is the most important thing. Still, we wonder what the producers are thinking about the decision to cut Keri Russell's trademark blonde locks down to the naturally curly nub, now that "Felicity" has stopped its season-long ratings free-fall by hitting rock bottom. Sunday's episode (albeit a repeat) ranked 105th for the week -- making it the lowest-rated series on the six major networks. Come April, the WB will ship "Felicity" off to Wednesday nights after "Dawson's Creek." So let's take a little poll. Raise your hand if you think that Felicity will have longer hair by April. Okay, then raise you hand if you know who Felicity is? Is that your final answer?
Oh, and one last thing we almost forgot to mention...