Courteney Cox and Busy Phillips

Can we give the Cougar Town crew an A for trying?

Despite the cast and producers' valiant guerrilla marketing effort for the long-delayed third season, the comedy returned Tuesday to 4.8 million viewers and a 1.8 rating in the adults 18-to-49 demo — both series lows.

Social TV: Cougar Town creator offers ponies, drunken raves to loyal fans

The silver lining? The show suffered relatively small drops in both measures — 4 and 10 percent, respectively — from the Season 2 finale (when it aired on Wednesdays after Modern Family) and posted the highest retention rate out of Last Man Standing (82 percent) all season.

Still, Cougar Town's premiere numbers are below those of the timeslot's previous (and now-canceled) occupants Man Up and Work It.

CBS won the night, powered by NCIS, which drew 19.4 million viewers and a 3.9 rating.

8 p.m.
CBS:
NCIS 19.4 million viewers (3.9 demo rating)
ABC: Last Man Standing 7.6 million (2.2); Cougar Town 4.8 million (1.8)
Fox: Glee 6.9 million (2.8)
NBC: The Biggest Loser  5.8 million (2.0) [8-10 p.m.]
CW: Hart of Dixie (R) 0.7 million (0.3)

9 p.m.
CBS: NCIS: Los Angeles 16 million viewers (3.2)
ABC: The River 4.9 million (1.7)
Fox: New Girl 6.6 million (3.2); Raising Hope 4.68 million (2.1)
CW: Ringer 1.07 million (0.3)

10 p.m.
CBS: Unforgettable 10.9 million viewers (2.0)
ABC: Body of Proof 6.1 million (1.2)
NBC: Parenthood 4.4 million (1.6)