This is a nice vindication for a series that never had a permanent time slot or launch date, shuffled around the schedule and bounced between fall and midseason. Getting a last-minute upgrade to Thursdays from its original Saturday(!) time slot this fall, veteran CBS utility player Rules Of Engagement (3.7/12, 11.5 million) posted its best fall premiere in four years last night. Compared with last fall, when Rules aired Mondays at 8:30 PM, the veteran comedy was up 19%. Rules delivered far stronger numbers than the comedy it replaced, rookie How To Be A Gentleman, which posted a 2.5/7 in its last Thursday airing, and matched the demo performance in the Thursday 8:30 PM slot last week of a Big Bang Theory repeat. The Big Bang Theory (4.9/15, 14.7 million) had a great night, up 11% from its demo fast national last week to match its best Thursday demo rating with a regularly scheduled telecast and post its second-biggest audience on the night. Big Bang is expected to break the tie and post its best Thursday number when the finals are announced this afternoon as the hit comedy always gets adjusted up. UPDATE PM: It’s official – a new Thursday high for Big Bang, which rose to a 5.1 rating in 18-49 in Live+Same Day. Big Bang once again ranked as the top program on Thursday in 18-49 and total viewers. At 9 PM, Person Of Interest (2.7/7) matched its fast national from last week, as did The Mentalist (2.5/7) at 10 PM. CBS (3.2/9, 12.6 million) is expected to finish second for the night behind Fox’s coverage of Game 2 of the World Series. There is no time-adjusted data for the game, but, just like Game 1 on Wednesday, it appears to be down from the corresponding telecast last year.

There was no dead-cat bounce for recently canceled ABC drama Charlie’s Angels (1.2/4), which slipped a tenth from last week to tie its series low. Grey’s Anatomy (3.5/9) was up a tenth from its fast national last week, while Private Practice (2.4/6) was even. (Grey’s, Big Bang and Person Of Interest were adjusted up in the finals last week, while Private Practice was adjusted down). NBC aired all reruns paced by The Office (1.5/4).

The CW’s The Vampire Diaries (2.9 million, 1.3/4) was down a tenth in 18-49 but still beat Charlie’s Angels in the demo. The Secret Circle (2.1 million, 0.9/2 in 18-34 and 18-49) broadened out, up 12% in total viewers and 13% in 18-49 while keeping steady in 18-34.