'Alcatraz' ratings breakout; Betty White boosts NBC

Alcatraz

Image Credit: Fox

Fox and J.J. Abrams’ new thriller Alcatraz got off to a very solid start Monday night. Plus, Betty White gives NBC a birthday surprise, The Bachelor reverses, and Gossip Girl returns.

The sci-fi crime drama opened to 10 million viewers and a 3.3 rating among adults 18-49 in its two-hour premiere. That’s up 6 percent from the debut of Terra Nova in the slot and up 38 percent from the premiere of last year’s Chicago Code. Alcatraz, about former prisoners of the infamous prison who are inexplicably returning to the present day after a 50-year disappearance, tied ABC’s Revenge as the second-highest rated new fall drama series premiere. (Once Upon a Time was tops.) Another good sign: Alcatraz aired as a pair of back-to-back episodes and both hours had the same rating, so there wasn’t a noticeable drop off after people watched the pilot.

The performance of Alcatraz might impact the fate of Terra Nova, a show Fox executives have held off making a decision about until they’ve seen the performance of their new January dramas (including Bones spinoff The Finder, whose debut last week disappointed).

CBS won the night with a fairy steady comedy lineup: HIMYM (10.1 million, 4.4 — and check out what we learned about the show from its press tour panel here) was up 13 percent, 2 Broke Girls (11.3 million, 4.5 — and if you didn’t see it already, you must read what happened at its press tour panel here) was steady, Two and a Half Men (12.9 million, 4.6) was up 5 percent, and Mike & Molly (11.2 million, 3.8) was unchanged. The Eye had Hawaii Five-0 (10.5 million, 2.8) steady at 10 p.m.

ABC had some good news from The Bachelor (7.4 million, 2.4). After last week’s drop, the reality franchise rebounded 9 percent. Castle (9.4 million, 2.3) was steady.

NBC scored head-turning ratings with Betty White’s 90th Birthday (13.8 million, 2.7) and Betty White’s Off Their Rockers (12.2 million, 2.6) specials, the second-best performance by NBC in these hours this season. Though we focus on the adult demo here at EW (since that’s what networks use to decide whether shows continue or not), it’s worth pointing out that one of NBC’s Betty White specials managed to be the most-watched show of the night — no small accomplishment when airing against CBS comedies. With a flood of AARP members surging toward it, Rock Center with Brian Williams (5.6 million, 1.3) jumped 86 percent, yet was still a distant third place in the hour.

On The CW, Gossip Girl (1.3 million, 0.6) was steady with its last original airing.

Read more:
‘Alcatraz’ series premiere recap: Early Sentencing
‘The Bachelor’ recap: Dead on Arrival
‘How I Met Your Mother’ recap: The Return of Lily’s Stripper Doppelganger

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