'Two and a Half Men' premiere hits ratings record
The sitcom drew 27.8 million total viewers to its Season 9 premiere, which introduced Ashton Kutcher as Sheen's replacement, according to early data from Nielsen.
It was the best number ever for "Men," which suffered a shortened eighth season earlier this year after producers fired Sheen, who had engaged in a public war of words with his bosses. In fact, viewing was so high for "Men," it put a noticeable dent in the ratings for ABC's season premiere of "Dancing With the Stars," which averaged 18.6 million for the night. The two-hour "Dancing" was strong enough to power ABC to a win for the night in viewers, however, thanks in no small part to curiosity over the introduction of Chaz Bono, the series' first transgender contestant.
Kutcher was introduced mid-episode in "Men" as Walden Schmidt, a lovelorn Internet billionaire who had tried to commit suicide by walking into the ocean near the Malibu beach house once owned by Charlie Harper (Sheen). The episode's opening revealed that Harper had died after a girlfriend had learned of his infidelity and, it was assumed, pushed him in front of an oncoming train.
In the adults-age-18-to-49 demographic often sought by advertisers, "Men" delivered a gigantic 10.3 rating/24 share.
"Men" delivered a powerful lead-in to a new CBS sitcom, "Two Broke Girls," which averaged 19.2 million viewers.
The first night of the season proved bruising for NBC. Its new 10 p.m. drama, "The Playboy Club," bombed with barely 5 million viewers. But that show's two-hour lead-in, "The Sing-Off," didn't fare much better, with a 5.2 million average.
What did you think of the "Two and a Half Men" opening?
-- Scott Collins
Photo: Jon Cryer (back to camera) is surprised by the appearance of Ashton Kutcher's character in "Two and a Half Men." Credit: Adam Rose / CBS