Gary Susman
September 24, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

You can’t go wrong with a pirate theme these days; just ask Johnny Depp or Jeff Probst. Thursday’s 90-minute premiere of the buccaneer-themed ”Survivor: Pearl Islands” was last week’s most-watched show, according to Nielsen, drawing 21.5 million viewers. The one-two punch of ”Survivor” and the 90-minute ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” premiere that followed (14.1 million, No. 6 for the week) helped make CBS the most-watched network of the week, averaging 10 million viewers.

ABC climbed to a rare second place finish (averaging 9.4 million viewers), thanks to the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game on ”Monday Night Football” (18.3 million viewers made it the week’s second most-watched show), the seven-minute pregame show (No. 4, 14.5 million), and Tuesday’s tribute to John Ritter (No. 7, 14 million).

NBC finished third with a weekly average of 8 million, edging out Fox (7.9 million), even though Fox had the No. 3 show with the Emmys (17.9 million). The WB, boosted by the season premiere of ”7th Heaven” (No. 44), finished fifth with 3.9 million. UPN, whose strongest show was the new Will Smith-produced sitcom ”All of Us” (No. 80), averaged 3.6 million.

Next week, look for top-15 finishes from Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom ”Two and a Half Men” and James Caan’s new drama ”Las Vegas.” Their Monday premieres drew 18.1 million viewers to CBS, 12.6 million to NBC, respectively. In contrast, Monday’s hour-long Oval Office interview with President Bush on Fox drew only 4.3 million, about half what Tom Brokaw’s NBC interview with the president aboard Air Force One drew in April. Note to Brit Hume: next time you talk to the president in primetime, try to do it on a plane.

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