With a big assist from megahit "The Big Bang Theory," Robin Williams' "The Crazy Ones" on CBS easily topped Michael J. Fox's new NBC show in Thursday's comedy collision.
Williams and Fox aren't scheduled to meet on a regular basis this fall, but their premieres went head-to-head last night, and it was no contest.
"Crazy," in which Williams plays a New York ad exec, is the season's No. 2 new series in demos (behind ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD") and No. 1 in total viewers.
The combo of "Crazy Ones" at 9 and veteran "Two and a Half Men" in its new timeslot at 9:30 (2.9/8 in 18-49, 11.5 million viewers overall) provided CBS with nice timeslot improvement in key demos over last year's drama, "Person of Interest."
The Eye carried the night in key demos and won easily in total viewers.
Over at NBC, the hourlong premiere of "Parks and Recreation" couldn't muster much opposite "Big Bang," earning a 1.3/4 in 18-49 and 3.3 million viewers overall. "The Michael J, Fox Show" followed at 9 with a 2.1/6 in 18-49 and 7.3 million viewers overall, growing sharply over its lead-in.
"Michael J. Fox" placed third in 18-49 for the 9 o'clock hour, and was a slight improvement over last year's 9-10 p.m. comedy combo of "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation," which averaged a 1.9/5 in 18-49 and less than 4 million total viewers. "MJF" drew the same 2.1 rating in both the 9 and 9:30 p.m. half-hours, indicating that it either held the audience it had or, more likely, lost some but picked up others who were watching "Crazy Ones."
The look of the night changes next week when both CBS and NBC air their regular comedy schedules. CBS is slotting newbie "The Millers" between "The Big Bang Theory" and "Crazy Ones," and NBC is adding two new shows, "Welcome to the Family" at 8:30 p.m. and Sean Hayes starrer "Sean Saves the World" at 9.
Elsewhere on the opening Thursday of the season, dramas "Grey's Anatomy" on ABC (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall) and "Elementary" on CBS (2.1/6 in 18-49, 10.1 million viewers overall) opened noticeably lower than last year, though the former out-perfomed its final 20 episodes of last season.
And it was a soft start to the season for Fox's "Glee" (2.0/5 in 18-49, 5.2 million viewers overall), airing behind "The X Factor" (2.0/6 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall).
NBC's "Parenthood" premiered on its new night with a 1.6/5 in 18-49 and 5.2 million viewers overall) -- down from its Tuesday numbers from early last year but certainly an improvement over last year's "Rock Center."
For CBS, "Big Bang" was up by about 10% over its year-ago, half-hour premiere (5.0 in 18-49), and the combo of "Crazy Ones" and "Two and a Half Men" (2.9/8 in 18-49, 11.5 million viewers overall) provided the Eye with roughly 20% improvement in 18-49. "Crazy Ones" delivered CBS' best performance in the timeslot in key demos since "CSI" in 2009.
"Crazy" exhibited a strong gender balance, with 48% of its 18-49 and 25-54 audience coming from men.
The falloff from "Crazy" to "Two and a Half Men" is a bit surprising, but the shows figure to be closer to each other next week; "Men" opened with a 3.5 demo rating and 12.5 million at 8:30 p.m. behind "Big Bang" a year ago.
Closing out the night, "Elementary" was in line with where it left off last season, but well off from the 3.1 demo score it opened to a year ago (opposite lesser competition).
Like CBS, NBC was up over its opening Thursday of last year, though an hour of "Parks and Recreation" was down a bit from last year's combo of a "SNL" special and "Up All Night." At 10, "Parenthood" doubled the demo delivery of Brian Williams newsmag "Rock Center."
NBC has now shown year-over-year improvement on four of four nights to start the season.
At ABC, a special repeat of rookie Tuesday drama "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" did a 1.4/4 in 18-49 and 5.2 million viewers overall in the 8 o'clock hour, leading into the two-hour season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy" (3.4/9 in 18-49, 9.3 million viewers overall), which was down more than 20% from its year-ago, hourlong opener (4.4). "Scandal" returns at 10 next week.
For the night, ABC placed second to CBS in 18-49, 25-54 and total viewers, coming in 7% lower than last year.
Fox's "The X Factor" (2.0/6 in 18-49, 6.4 million viewers overall) held steady with its performance of last week but was off more than 30% from a year ago. And "Glee," with the first of two Beatles-themed episodes, was down 17% from last year's 2.4 demo rating but in line with its closing average of last spring.
Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night: CBS, 3.7/11; ABC, 2.7/8; Fox, 2.0/6; NBC, 1.7/5; CW, 0.3/1.
In total viewers: CBS, 14.2 million; ABC, 7.9 million; Fox, 5.8 million; NBC, 5.3 million; CW, 0.9 million.