Fox's returning <I>Fringe</i> hit the ground running. Fox's returning Fringe hit the ground running.

Tuesday's tallies:

8 pm/ET
As Fox's own ratings release succinctly put it, "All Eyes Were on the Newest Idol in the White House." Said differently: Opposite ABC's two-hour coverage of the Inauguration Day Neighborhood Ball (which set a table for 12.6 million total viewers), American Idol dropped 25 percent week-to-week, to 22.42 million. Trailing an NCIS repeat, Biggest Loser packed on 16 percent, to 10.2 mil. At 2.4 mil, 90210 enjoyed a gain of 210K.

9 pm
Placing second behind ABC's Ball, Fox's Fringe returned from its seven-week siesta to an audience of 12.1 million, a 40 percent bump from its last outing and the freshman series' second-largest audience ever. (Be sure to check out my new videos with J.J. 1 and J.J. 2.) Privileged saw a 530-thou uptick, to 1.66 mil. (Have I mentioned the great big and glorious bear-hug that JoAnna Garcia gave me at the Globes last week? Definitely not chilly.)

10 pm
A Mentalist repeat topped the hour with 10.45 million viewers, followed by an Inauguration-tastic ABC News special (9.47 mil) and Dateline (6.2 mil).