Last May, Breaking In was not part of Fox’s plans for the 2010-11 season as the network had passed on the workplace comedy pilot in favor of Raising Hope, Running Wilde and Traffic Light.

Last night, the series premiere of Breaking In drew a 3.5/9 in adults 18-49 and 9.9 million viewers to rank as the highest-rated Fox live-action comedy telecast in over 3 years in 18-49 and total viewers and log the best lead-in retention for a sitcom airing after American Idol in 4 years, since ‘Til Death on Apr. 4, 2007. The Christian Slater-starring Breaking In also outperformed the two other freshman comedies Fox tried out behind Idol this spring, Raising Hope (by 6%) and Traffic Light (by 25%).

The solid premiere numbers are a nice validation for pilot testing as Breaking In scored the highest marks of all Fox pilots last season. Props to Sony TV, which didn’t give up after Fox passed on the pilot and extended the options on the entire cast, to Fox for eventually reversing its decision and giving Breaking In a second chance, to Slater for trying a comedy after his two disastrous drama turns in My Own Worst Enemy and The Forgotten and to his adorable daughter who made his pimping of the Breaking In premiere on American Idol last night far less awkward than other similar cross-promotions on the reality hit. As for the 90-minute Idol (7.1, 22.5 million), it was down 5% in the demo from the fast national result for its 2-hour edition last week and is expected to finish on par with the respective broadcast last season when the finals come in later today.

It as a case of good news-bad news for the season finale of ABC’s Mr. Sunshine. With no Idol at 9:30 PM, the midseason comedy starring Matthew Perry (1.6/4) was up 14% vs. last week when it faced the reality juggernaut. The bad news – it did a 1.6 in the demo. That was well below its lead-in, a Modern Family rerun (2.0/5), which aired against Idol. (ABC also aired comedy reruns in the 8 PM hour). CBS’ Survivor: Redemption Island (3.2/9) was even with last week’s low, while Criminal Minds (3.6/9) was up 3%.

NBC’s Law & Order: SVU (2.3/6, down 8% from last week in the demo, 8 million) won the demo race at 10 PM over CBS’ Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.1/5, down 9%, 9 million) and ABC’s Off the Map finale (1.3/3, 3.8 million). It is worth noting that Suspect Behavior had a 4:1 lead-in advantage over SVU, which followed an SVU rerun (0.92). The two spinoffs opened with a matching 2.2/6 demo rating at 10 PM but then SVU shot up to 2.5/7 at 10:30 PM while Criminal Behavior slid to a 1.9/5. Fox (6.2/17, 19.4 million viewers) won the night, followed by CBS (2.9/8, 11.1 million), with Univision (1.6/4, 4.1 million) logging yet another third place finish among 18-49.