When NBC in May announced its new Thursday lineup consisting of softly rated returning comedies and Rock Center With Brian Williams, it felt like the network was writing off the night for the fall. Well, that certainly seems to be the case judging by the lineup’s launch last night, following strong showings for NBC on Monday and Tuesday.

The first Saturday Night Live Election special (1.6/5 in adults 18-49) failed to jump-start the night, down 69% from the comparable special four years ago when Saturday Night Live was riding the Sarah Palin wave. SNL had a big election story to play off last night, the secret Mitt Romney tape, but it may have been hurt from lack of publicity. Still, the SNL special did better than its lead-out, the second-season premiere of Up All Night, which pretty much sealed its fate with an underwhelming 1.3/4 in 18-49, down 46% from last year’s series premiere, to finish fourth in the time slot. With that number, it doesn’t look likely that the comedy will go beyond its partial 13-episode renewal.

There was not much enthusiasm for the final season of The Office (2.1/6). It opened down 48% from last season’s premiere, which revealed Michael Scott’s successor, to an all-time low for a season opener of the veteran comedy.  Office was also down from its May season finale, by 9%. At 9:30 PM, Parks And Recreation (1.7/5) also posted its lowest-rated premiere ever. Compared with last fall, it was down 19%. And at 10 PM, one of the the biggest headscratchers on NBC’s schedule, Rock Center, mustered a 1.1/3, down 21% from last week with no original competition in the hour. NBC (1.5/4, 4.0 million) finished third for the night behind Fox (3.1/9, 8.6 million) and CBS (1.8/5, 7.4 million), which aired repeats.

Fox, the only other network airing its fall Thursday lineup last night, saw The X Factor (3.4/11) go up 10% from last Thursday, completing the week-to-week gains for all four singing competition editions this week of both X Factor and The Voice. Its lead-out, Glee (2.9/6), moved in the opposite direction, down 6% in 18-49 and even in total viewers. ABC’s Wipeout finale (1.4/4) lived up to its title, down 39% from its Summer 2011 closer, and will likely drop further in the finals because of NFL pre-emptions.