I watched, and I laughed!

‘American Idol’ Returns to Stellar Numbers on Fox
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The quest for instant pop fame and a new TV take on matrimonial mayhem scored big with viewers as the return of “American Idol” and the debut of “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” struck ratings gold for the struggling Fox network.
The third edition of “Idol” premiered on Monday night to 28.2 million viewers overall and a whopping 12.5 rating in the benchmark demographic of 18-to-49-year-olds, making it the biggest show of the night and the biggest debut of any series on any network this season, according to figures issued on Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research.
Monday’s “Idol” now ranks as the second-highest-rated nonsports telecast so far this season in 18-to-49-year-olds behind a Jan. 15 episode of NBC’s “Friends,” while just two episodes of the CBS hit series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” have drawn more in total viewers, Fox said.
The return of “American Idol” also gave a boost to the launch of another key Fox reality series, “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance,” which averaged nearly 21.4 million viewers to rank as the second-most watched program of the night and prove the enduring appeal of matrimonial melodrama.
The reality show centers on a young bride-to-be trying to get through a formal engagement and marriage to a world-class lout — over the sensible protests of her parents — in order to win $1 million.
But while the search for America’s next pop star on “Idol” increased its audience about 13 percent from its first half-hour to the second, “Fiance” lost nearly 20 percent of its total viewers at the half-hour.
Still, Monday night’s performance marked a welcome triumph for Fox, a unit of News Corp. Ltd., which has been struggling to shake off a ratings slump and was counting on the premieres of both shows to re-energize its schedule.
It was the strongest Monday night for Fox since the finale of “Joe Millionaire” last year. That show, along with the second installment of “American Idol” last January, transformed Fox’s fortunes from dismal to dazzling at the end of last season.
Fox started the new season with improved ratings for its baseball playoffs coverage but faltered with misfires by several new shows, including the porn-themed drama “Skin,” the sitcom “Luis” and a second installment of “Joe Millionaire.”
Elsewhere on prime time Monday, NBC’s “Average Joe: Hawaii” saw its 18-49 ratings jump nearly 40 percent in its third episode at 10 p.m., apparently benefiting from reality TV fans looking for something else to watch once “American Idol” and “Obnoxious Fiance” were off the air, and from the fact that CBS aired a repeat of “CSI: Miami.”