James Hibberd
September 23, 2011 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Premiere explosion Thursday unveiled 10 season debuts, plus several crucial second episodes of the fall. Some initial first-glance key results: ABC’s Charlie’s Angels opened modestly with 8.7 million viewers and a 2.1 adults 18-49 rating, the second night of Fox’s The X Factor held nearly steady with 12.5 million viewers and a 4.3 rating, and NBC’s Prime Suspect disappointed with 6 million and 1.8.

Let’s go network by network and break this down. Fox won the night with X Factor (the first time its won a premiere week Thursday in the network’s history, in fact), off by only a tenth of a point from Wednesday night rating. Showing this strong retention for the second episode is definitely good news for Fox and Simon Cowell.

On CBS, a one-hour Big Bang Theory (14.4 million, 4.9) was stable with last fall’s premiere and also won the night. The premiere of J.J. Abrams’ new thriller Person of Interest (13.2 million, 3.1) had a solid number, but was down 9 percent from the debut of CSI in the time period last year. At 10 p.m., the return of The Mentalist (13.3 million, 2.8) was off 18 percent from last fall, despite its Red John finale cliffhanger.

ABC’s Charlie’s Angels has a borderline, but still workable, number. The reinvention of the 1970s classic was up 31 percent from the premiere of short-lived My Generation in the slot last fall. The two-hour return of Grey’s Anatomy (10.3 million, 4.1) was down 24 percent from last year, yet still tied X Factor for second place for the night after Big Bang.

If there’s been a trend so far this premiere week, it’s that comedy is breaking out with surprisingly high numbers. Sadly, NBC just busted that streak: Community (4 million, 1.7) was down 23 percent and Parks and Recreation (4.1 million, 2.0) dropped 38 percent. The Office (7.6 million, 3.9), premiering for the first time without Steve Carell, fell only 11 percent. New comedy Whitney (6.7 million, 3.2) was down 11 percent from Outsourced last year. More surprising was the performance of Maria Bello’s Prime Suspect (6 million, 1.8), which many pegged as having a strong chance of becoming a contender this fall. Suspect was NBC’s lowest rated Thursday fall series premiere ever.

And how did The CW hold up during this bombardment? Vampire Diaries (2 million, 1.2) was down 20 percent from last week and Secret Circle (2.5 million, 0.9) fell a sharper-than-expected 31 percent.

More premiere week ratings:

MONDAY: ‘Two and a Half Men’ ratings huge! Ashton Kutcher debut delivers series high

TUESDAY: Zooey Deschanel’s ‘New Girl’ opens big; ‘Glee’ dips

WEDNESDAY: ‘X Factor’ opens solid, but ‘Modern Family’ steals the show

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