Tanner Stransky
October 22, 2008 AT 05:17 AM EDT

With the nation infatuated with all things relating to the election, it’s no surprise that the final debate between John McCain and Barack Obama — which aired simultaneously on ABC, CBS, and NBC on Wednesday night — pulled in the highest ratings for the week ending Oct. 19. The debate drew 31 million viewers across all three networks. The tally increases to 56.5 million when you factor in all the cable networks, too. For comparison’s sake, the first presidential debate grabbed 52.4 million viewers and the second garnered 63.2 million. All those numbers, however, pale in comparison to the Sarah Palin-Joe Biden throwdown, which was watched by a whopping 69.9 million viewers. But back to the week at hand….

Besides that ratings rarity, the top show on network TV for the week was — you guessed it — CBS’s CSI (pictured: Jorja Fox, who reprised her role as Sara Sidle last week), which snagged 19.3 million viewers. That’s an 18 percent drop from the show’s chart-topping premiere last week. From NCIS to The Amazing Race, CBS boasted 11 shows in the week’s final Top 20, which you can peruse right after the jump.

1. Presidential Debate | ABC, CBS, NBC | 31.0 million
2. CSI | CBS | 19.3 million
3. NCIS | CBS | 18.0 million
4. Dancing with the Stars | ABC | 17.8 million
5. Desperate Housewives | ABC | 15.5 million
6. The Mentalist | CBS | 15.5 million
7. Dancing with the Stars | ABC | 14.8 million
    Grey’s Anatomy | ABC | 14.8 million
9. Two and a Half Men | CBS | 14.7 million
10. 60 Minutes | CBS | 14.5 million
11. House | Fox | 13.3 million
12. CSI: Miami | CBS | 13.2 million
13. Survivor: Gabon | CBS | 12.8 million
14. Eleventh Hour | CBS | 11.9 million
15. Samantha Who? | ABC | 11.4 million
16. Cold Case | CBS | 11.3 million
17. Without a Trace | CBS | 11.1 million
18. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition | ABC | 10.9 million
19. The Amazing Race | CBS | 10.3 million
20. Sunday Night Football | NBC | 10.0

There were a few notable numbers outside of the Top 20. On Tuesday night, ABC’s Eli Stone debuted to 8.4 million viewers — a 17 percent increase over its average from last season. NBC’s Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday prime-time special nabbed 8.8 million viewers and topped the network’s other comedies of the evening, My Name is Earl (6.7 million), Kath & Kim (6.1 million), and The Office (8.3 million).

NBC had a couple of other notable debuts that didn’t fare so well. The premiere of Christian Slater‘s vehicle My Own Worst Enemy

on Monday attracted a disappointing 7.3 million viewers, which is down

an alarming 1.9 million from the debut of the timeslot’s former

occupant, the now-departed Journeyman. The Peacock’s new Friday night entry, Crusoe, didn’t fare much better, grabbing just 7.4 million viewers while up against CBS’s Ghost Whisperer (9.0 million), a repeat of Fox’s Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (5.2 million), ABC’s Wife Swap (5.0 million), and The CW’s Everybody Hates Chris and The Game (both 1.8 million). Truly, Friday nights on television continue to be a sad, sad place.

1. Presidential Debate | ABC, CBS, NBC | 31.0 million
2. CSI | CBS | 19.3 million
3. NCIS | CBS | 18.0 million
4. Dancing with the Stars | ABC | 17.8 million
5. Desperate Housewives | ABC | 15.5 million
6. The Mentalist | CBS | 15.5 million
7. Dancing with the Stars | ABC | 14.8 million
    Grey’s Anatomy | ABC | 14.8 million
9. Two and a Half Men | CBS | 14.7 million
10. 60 Minutes | CBS | 14.5 million
11. House | Fox | 13.3 million
12. CSI: Miami | CBS | 13.2 million
13. Survivor: Gabon | CBS | 12.8 million
14. Eleventh Hour | CBS | 11.9 million
15. Samantha Who? | ABC | 11.4 million
16. Cold Case | CBS | 11.3 million
17. Without a Trace | CBS | 11.1 million
18. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition | ABC | 10.9 million
19. The Amazing Race | CBS | 10.3 million
20. Sunday Night Football | NBC | 10.0

There were a few notable numbers outside of the Top 20. On Tuesday night, ABC’s Eli Stone debuted to 8.4 million viewers — a 17 percent increase over its average from last season. NBC’s Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday prime-time special nabbed 8.8 million viewers and topped the network’s other comedies of the evening, My Name is Earl (6.7 million), Kath & Kim (6.1 million), and The Office (8.3 million).

NBC had a couple of other notable debuts that didn’t fare so well. The premiere of Christian Slater‘s vehicle My Own Worst Enemyon Monday attracted a disappointing 7.3 million viewers, which is downan alarming 1.9 million from the debut of the timeslot’s formeroccupant, the now-departed Journeyman. The Peacock’s new Friday night entry, Crusoe, didn’t fare much better, grabbing just 7.4 million viewers while up against CBS’s Ghost Whisperer (9.0 million), a repeat of Fox’s Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (5.2 million), ABC’s Wife Swap (5.0 million), and The CW’s Everybody Hates Chris and The Game (both 1.8 million). Truly, Friday nights on television continue to be a sad, sad place.

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