tony-goldwyn-scandal-recap-abcThis is the much-needed good ratings news ABC had been desperately waiting for after the string of disastrous premieres for The Assets, Killer Women, Mind Games and most recently Mixology. It came courtesy of Shonda Rhimes, who’s become the network’s single most important producer. Both Rhimes dramas, Grey’s Anatomy (3.0) and Scandal (3.3), returned up from their two-and-a-half-month-long hiatuses, bringing a sigh of relief to ABC brass who took on a risky experiment by doing cable-style split seasons with a long break for all of their top serialized dramas this season. Grey’s Anatomy was up 11% from its last original on December 12, Scandal was up a tenth. That’s with virtually no lead-in as ABC aired a low-rated Oscar special at 8 PM (1.0).

Fox’s American Idol (2.3 in 18-49) was down a tenth from last week to hit an all-time demo low for a second consecutive Thursday. It ticked up in total viewers, from 9.2 million to 9.8 million. Rake (0.8) tumbled 20% from last week to a new series low en route to cancellation.

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CBS introduced its tweaked Thursday comedy lineup, with Two And A Half Men and The Crazy Ones switching time periods. Whether it was because of a better flow, with Men completing a 1.5-hour multi-camera block leading to single-camera The Crazy Ones, or The Millers ticking up at 8:30 PM, or not having to face the Olympics, both Men and Crazy Ones were up significantly from their last originals in their previous time slots — especially Men, which had been hurt by the softer Crazy Ones as a lead-in at 9:30 PM. Following The Big Bang Theory (4.9 in 18-49, down a tenth from the fast national for the last original, which aired against NBC’s first Thursday Olympics broadcast) and Millers (2.8, up a tenth), Two And A Half Men (2.5) shot up 32% and Crazy Ones (1.9) was up 12%. (The Millers will likely be adjusted down a tenth because of a Big Bang spillover, making for a great lead-in retention by Men.) But the move of Crazy Ones to 9:30 PM hurt drama Elementary (1.6), which last night was down 11% from its last original. The whole point of CBS’ unconventional fall scheduling decision of putting Men at 9:30 PM vs. the anchor 9 PM slot, leading to Crazy Ones, was to protect Elementary with a proven lead-in. That is now gone.

What can we say about NBC? Party game show Hollywood Game Night with a 1.2 in 18-49 (down 20% from its last original on February 3) was the network’s highest-rated program of the night — that about sums it up. Another utterly underwhelming performance by NBC’s Thursday lineup, with Community (1.0), Parks & Recreation (1.0) tying season lows and Parenthood (1.1) setting a new one. Community was dwon 9% from its last original in January, Parks & Rec was down 23%, and Parenthood was down 15%.

The CW’s Vampire Diaries (0.9) was flat with its last original on February 6, tying a season low, while Reign (0.5) was down a tenth, hitting a new low. That must be a worrisome sign for CW executives who recently gave the freshman costume drama an early renewal.