Two teams of hard-boiled crime-solvers and an army of clones proved no match for the women of Wisteria Lane on Sunday. Desperate Housewives’ first-season finale — which packed into 60 delicious minutes a surprising death, a murderous flashback, and a cliffhanger that leaves several characters in peril — drew 30.7 million viewers according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. (If you Tivo’d the episode and haven’t watched it, stop reading now).
Housewives outpaced its three major network competitors combined, as both CBS and NBC chose to air repeats rather than risk sacrificing original programs against the Housewives juggernaut. Fox’s airing of the film Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones pulled in 8.5 million, CBS’ CSI repeat drew 11.5 million, and on NBC a repeat of Crossing Jordan drew 4.9 million.
A good chunk of viewers who watched Bree (Marcia Cross) get word that her husband Rex (Steven Culp) had died awaiting heart surgery — conspiracy theorists, note: we never actually saw Rex’s corpse — stuck around for ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. The freshman medical drama scored 22 million viewers in the overnight ratings, helping lead ABC to a victory for the night with an average 20.1 million coach potatoes.