The two-hour premiere NBC's top drama "Heroes" was down 25% compared with last year's one-hour opener, taking an expected hit following a creatively middling second season and an extended nine-month hiatus prompted by the writers strike.
The "Heroes" debut (9.9 million viewers, 4.9 preliminary adults 18-49 rating and a 12 share) ranked second in the 9 p.m. hour after ABC's "Dancing With the Stars' " return, and second at 10 p.m. following CBS' "CSI: Miami" debut. ("Heroes" was actually down even more from last year -- 33% -- if you include NBC's controversial move to roll its Saturday repeat rating into its premiere). Clip show lead-in "Heroes: Countdown to the Premiere" (2.6/7) placed third in the hour.
NBC's weaker standings gave CBS an opening to win the night, and the network took it. Proving that not every show is returning weaker than last year, CBS' "Two and a Half Men" (14.9 million, 5.3/12), whose repeats were on like a ratings champ nightlight during strike, returned up 10% from last year to top the night. "How I Met Your Mother" (9.7 million, 4.0/10), retaining the newfound momentum the show enjoyed poststrike and post-Britney Spears last season, came back a very impressive 21% higher. The second-season debut of "The Big Bang Theory" (9.4 million, 3.6/10) was down a tenth from last season.