He’s back and already it’s like Gordon Ramsay never left. The Season 12 premiere of Hell’s Kitchen (1.9/7) last night saw Fox’s favorite screaming cook return to train, torture and systematically eliminate another set of aspiring chefs. With a move from last year’s Tuesday debut to Thursday and down to one hour from the two-hour premiere last year, Hell’s Kitchen was basically steady last night compared with the Season 11 opener. Dipping just 5% from the 2.0/7 of March 12, 2013, HK actually saw a 4% bop up in viewership from last year to 5.3 million. However, last night was down 13% from the 2.2 rating of its two-hour Season 11 finale on July 25 last year — a Thursday. In another move announced last week for Thursdays on Fox, American Idol (2.2/6) shifted from 8 PM to the 9 PM slot previously occupied by the floundering Rake. The move was neither a benefit nor hindrance for the one-hour live results show as Idol was even with last’s week’s all-time low among the key demo. Overall, CBS won the night with a 2.5/8 rating and 10.60 million viewers.
Related: ‘Big Bang Theory’ Gets 3-Year Pickup
With its first airing since Daylight Savings took effect and with college basketball pre-emptions in about 2% of the country, The Big Bang Theory (4.9/17) kicked off CBS’ primetime with an 8% dip in adults 18-49 from its March 6 episode. Of course that still left the half-hour comedy the highest-rated show of the night and, with a galaxy-sized 17.26 million viewers (down 3% from last week), the most watched. With the pre-emptions and the fact that Big Bang is commonly adjusted up, expect a change here when final numbers come in later today. The rest of CBS’ night was a mixed bag, with Big Bang lead-out The Millers (2.6/8) down 10% from last week and Two And A Half Men (2.6/8) even. Perpetually unpredictable The Crazy Ones (1.8/5) was up a slight 6% from its March 6 airing; the freshman Robin Williams show didn’t make the list of CBS’ widespread renewals yesterday. The third week of the network’s comedy lineup didn’t do Elementary (1.7/5) many favors – it slipped 6% from last week.
Over on ABC, it was Presidential debate night on Scandal (2.7/8), which means the usual Shonda Rhimes twists and intrigues — just on a stage with more podiums. However, it also meant that the political drama slipped 5% from its March 6 episode to hit a season low. That probably wasn’t helped by the 12% drop to a series low tie that lead-in Grey’s Anatomy (2.3/7) had as it found its time slot crowded by Idol’s move. Starting the night for ABC, the second week of Once Upon A Time In Wonderland’s (0.8/3) return from winter break saw the fantasy drama fall 11% to also match a series low.
On NBC, there wasn’t anyone going up but a mix of evens, a dip and a down. Bookending the night, Community (1.0/4) and Parenthood (1.2/4) were even with last week’s shows, with the former matching a series low. Parks And Recreation (1.1/4) took a 15% dive while Hollywood Game Night (1.0/3) dipped 9% from its March 6 airing.
No longer fueled by the tease of steamy scenes that characterized last week and with pre-emptions in various markets, the CW’s Reign (0.6/7) was down a tenth from last week.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.