TIME-SLOT SHOWDOWN Which legal drama would the people's court find most appealing at 10 p.m.: ''The Lyon's Den'' (NBC's new drama featuring Rob Lowe) or ''The Practice'' (ABC's old drama featuring a massive cast overhaul, including the addition of James Spader)? The verdict: ''The Practice'' (No. 47), by 181,000 viewers. ''Everyone was wondering what would happen when we recast an entire show,'' says ABC Entertainment exec VP Jeff Bader, ''and creatively the show is as good as it's ever been -- if not better.'' Meanwhile, ''Lyon's Den'' dismissed too much of No. 15 ''Law & Order: Criminal Intent'''s lead-in audience. '''Lyon's Den' was our biggest disappointment of the fall,'' admits NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker. ''We didn't do a good job of executing it.''
BLEAK PERFORMER The ballyhooed ''Tarzan'' swung in for a decent debut before falling to No. 112. ''It's very hard to predict higher-concept shows,'' says The WB co-CEO Jordan Levin. ''It was well executed, but it wasn't embraced beyond a core group of fans who still call my office and flood our website asking why we couldn't continue it.''
Fun facts CBS freshman drama ''Cold Case'' is heating up to No. 14, while lead-out CBS Sunday Movie (No. 16) earns 3.6 million more viewers than last fall with heart tuggers like ''Finding John Christmas'' and ''The Elizabeth Smart Story.'' ''We went back to our roots,'' says CBS exec VP Kelly Kahl. ''We got a little edgy last year. We're trying to throw strikes down the middle -- and that strategy is working.'' As is The WB's rising veteran ''Charmed'' (No. 95), which airs at 8 p.m. Notes Levin: ''There was nothing there for young women.''