CSI leads CBS to boffo ratings


It's early in the game, probably too early to proclaim the winners and losers of the fall TV season. But why wait? Besides, trends are developing fast and furiously.

Winner: CBS, the 'CSI' network. CBS has led the ratings for the first three weeks of the season, thanks to the third season of 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,' which has propelled itself into being the most-watched show in America. Likewise, the spinoff 'CSI: Miami' is the most-watched new series. CBS even beat NBC on must-see Thursday night.

If CBS were smart, it would name its soon-to-be-revamped Bryant Gumbel-less morning show 'CSI: The Early Show.'

Loser: NBC's 'West Wing.' It was beaten by ABC's 'The Bachelor' among viewers between 18 and 49. A few more ratings weeks like that, and we'll see fewer well-written dramas about running the country, and more 'reality' shows featuring fawning women making fools of themselves.

Winner: 'Dr. Phil.' Oprah's most popular guest hit the ground running Ñ and dishing out advice. And the good doctor is going nuts in the ratings. His syndicated show on KOIN (6) clobbers the competition in the 3 p.m. time period, disproving my theory that really good talk show guests make really bad talk show hosts.

I'm wondering, though, if his tough-love approach is going to get old fast.

Loser: 'Life Moments.' The gushy, feel-good program that follows 'Dr. Phil' and leads into KOIN's 5 p.m. news sends viewers scurrying away, which is the last thing the station needs in furthering its standing in the early evening news wars.

Still, KOIN's rejuvenated news featuring Jeff Gianola and Julie Emry manages to bring back a good chunk of the audience as it tries to catch No. 1-rated KGW (8) while holding off KATU (2).

Winner: The surging WB network. It's the network that brought the world 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer,' 'Dawson's Creek' and several other smart shows aimed at the pre-twenty-something set. It's now growing by leaps and bounds because of the success of such dramas as the second-year 'Smallville' and newbies 'Everwood' and 'Birds of Prey.'

Losers: ABC and its bizarro drama 'Push, Nevada.' That's the show that offered a million dollars if you figured out the crime Ñ and you still didn't watch, did you? 'Push' joins the hourlong 'comedy' 'That Was Then' as the earliest cancellations of the fall.

Winner: 'Life with Bonnie.' The ABC sitcom starring Bonnie Hunt as a frazzled talk show host was given the go-ahead for the rest of the season.

Loser: The writing staff of 'Life with Bonnie.' Hunt fired them once the show was renewed.

Winner: Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly, host of the most-watched cable chat show. Not since Howard Cosell has there been a TV personality injecting so much opinion wrapped into so many questions.

Loser: MSNBC. Veteran talker Phil Donahue's show is at the bottom of the ratings heap. (But if you put him on PBS, people would watch him. Heck, it works for Charlie Rose.)

MSNBC also lost its bet on the hotspot-trotting Ashleigh Banfield. Though Banfield brought stylish eyeglasses back into the national consciousness, her show, 'Ashleigh Banfield: On Location,' has been yanked because of a dwindling audience.

Maybe it's time to switch to contact lenses.

Pete Schulberg is the host of 'Portland's Morning News' on KPAM (860 AM). Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..