Round 1 last fall went to the Seattle Grace gang; not so this time. Thursday's ratings rundown:
Survivor: China topped the hour with 14.16 million total viewers, a drop of a mil from its premiere. Ugly Betty's season-opener (11.05 mil) was up from its freshman finale but off six mil from its year-ago debut. NBC's Earl (8.52 mil) was down about 500K from its previous premiere. Smallville veritably matched last fall's return with 5.08 mil.
With 24.9 million viewers, CSI outperformed its 2006 opener by some 13 percent and in doing so trumped Grey's Anatomy, which returned to an audience of 20.5 mil (down from last fall's 25.15 mil). Though Grey's fared better among the key demos, that is Grissom & Co.'s largest-ever margin of victory over the ABC titan. The Office (9.67 mil) improved on its previous premiere by 670 thou.
Without a Trace embraced anew its Thursday time slot with 16.7 million viewers, just shy of its last (Sunday-night) season-opener but nearly two mil better than Shark did here a year ago. ABC's Big Shots (11.6 mil) shot down 43 percent of its Grey's lead-in, but still bested ER (which with 9.93 mil was way off last fall's 15.5 mil).