Gary Susman
November 10, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

CBS won the first week of November’s ratings sweeps period by doing nothing much out of the ordinary. Yes, the network did have that Dallas reunion special on Sunday, but it got clobbered by a more contemporary nighttime soap, ABC’s Desperate Housewives (the week’s No. 2 show, with 24.6 million viewers). Instead, it was CBS’ usual Thursday night lineup, led by CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (No. 1, 30.6 million), that drove the network to victory, averaging 12.9 million viewers for the week.

In fact, on all the networks, viewers tended to ignore sweeps specials and new programs in favor of old favorites. NBC saw viewers return to ER (No. 9, 17 million) and The Apprentice 2 (No. 10, 16.1 million) and averaged 11.3 million viewers for the week. ABC was close behind (11 million), scoring its best numbers yet for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (No. 5, 20.18 million), followed by Lost (No. 6, 18.7 million).

In contrast, Fox, without baseball, slumped to 6.3 million for fourth place. The O.C., which averaged 9.7 million viewers last year, scored only 8.6 on its season premiere on Thursday, opposite stronger lineups on CBS and NBC. Reality spoof My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss flopped at No. 90 (4.4 million). Of Fox’s other returning series with season premieres last week, they did better the older they were. Coming back for its second season, the Emmy-winning Arrested Development improved marginally on last season’s numbers, King of the Hill saw an increase of about 5 percent, and The Simpsons kicked off its 16th season with Fox’s most-watched show of the week (No. 31, 11.3 million).

Among the netlets, UPN rewarded Kevin Hill and Veronica Mars with full-season commitments. Still, the WB finished ahead, 4.1 million to 3.6 million.

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