Lloyd Dewolf
December 12, 2008 AT 12:00 PM EST

Hello, Larry. Hello, even higher ratings. Preliminary data says 20.6 million checked out Laurence Fishburne on last night’s CSI, giving the show an 18 percent bump in viewers from last week and marking the first time since its September debut that the procedural attracted over 20 million watchers. (Despite being Thursday’s top show all season, the series had been in a ratings decline since early November). CSI’s success bled over to its follow-up on CBS, Eleventh Hour. Yesterday’s episode — which focused flesheating bacteria — hung on to 65 percent of CSI’s crowd, nabbing 13.4 million viewers and scoring its highest numbers of the season.  Earlier on the net, Survivor: Gabon’s penultimate episode (the finale airs on Sunday), attracted 13.2 million, it’s best viewership since October.

First-place CBS averaged out the night with 15.8 million viewers, more than double second place NBC’s 7.7 million. But the Peacock’s lineup of holiday episodes of My Name is Earl (6.6 million), Kath & Kim (5.3 million), The Office (8.8 million), and 30 Rock (7.5 million) still brought gifts. All four shows increased on their previous week’s numbers, while The Office nabbed its best ratings since October, and 30 Rock finally stemmed the slow but steady decline it’s suffered since the premiere. ER was also up from last week, with 8.9 million viewers.

Elsewhere, Fox’s double shot of reality competition/game show programming, Secret Millionaire (5.4 million) and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, landed the net in fourth place behind ABC’s back to back reruns of Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice. Repeats also ruled at The CW, which aired reruns of  Supernatural and Smallville for the second week in a row.

Other TV News:

Weight in on Fisbourne’s first CSI

Ausiello on the NCIS spinoff

Jeff Probst blogs about last night’s Survivor

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