They weren't ''Friends'' numbers, but the series finale of ''Frasier'' still drew enough viewers to become the most-watched show of last week. Some 25.2 million watched TV's top shrink wrap his 11-year-old show, about half the number who watched the ''Friends'' finale the week before, according to Nielsen. Almost all of them stuck around to watch ''ER,'' the week's No. 2 show (23.9 million), while 17.9 million ''Frasier'' fans watched the series retrospective (No. 8) that preceded the finale. Still, the NBC sitcom faced some tough timeslot competition from this season's top show, ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,'' which drew a healthy 22.5 million viewers (No. 4 for the week) and helped CBS beat NBC for the week.
Credit for CBS goes in part to its continued expertise in mining nostalgia. The ''Dick Van Dyke Show'' reunion and another Carol Burnett retrospective both finished in the top 20 (at No. 14 and No. 16, respectively). ''Nostalgia'' may not be the right word for why 9.3 million people tuned in to CBS' remake of ''Helter Skelter,'' its own TV movie about the Charles Manson murders 35 years ago. In all, the network averaged 11.8 million viewers for the week, edging out NBC's 11.2 million. Nonetheless, NBC is winning the May sweeps so far, averaging 12.9 million viewers for the month, and it's the only network whose numbers are higher, not lower, than those from last May.
Fox claimed victory over NBC in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic, thanks as always to ''American Idol,'' whose Tuesday and Wednesday episodes came in at No. 3 and No. 5 for the week. The in-house promo for 20th Century Fox's upcoming disaster movie ''The Day After Tomorrow'' drew an astonishing 14.9 million and was the No. 13 show for the week. Overall, Fox averaged an audience of 9.2 million for the week.
ABC finished fourth again, averaging 8.3 million viewers, despite an especially strong showing for ''The Bachelor'' (No. 18, 12.5 million). The WB, in a week fueled by the season finales of ''Everwood'' and ''One Tree Hill,'' averaged an impressive 4.1 million, while UPN, with a big finale of its own (''The Parkers,'' signing off after five seasons), also drew bigger numbers than usual, 3.6 million.