Santa brought <I>NCIS</i> a big, fat audience. Santa brought NCIS a big, fat audience.

This Tuesday, as Fox and the CW broke for the holidays early....

8 pm/ET
NCIS capitalized on House's "missed appointment" by surging 1.3 mil and securing its biggest audience ever — 19.86 million total viewers. It was Biggest Loser, however, that placed No. 1 in the demos. The reality series' cycle-ender averaged 11.65 mil over its two-hour run, up 26 percent week-to-week.

9 pm
Oh, how you love that Mentalist! The freshman drama gained 560K from its previous fresh outing/series high, hitting 19.33 million viewers. Placing fourth (behind Loser and a Fringe repeat), ABC's According to Jim two-pack (4.8 mil) dropped 400 thou week-to-week.

10 pm
Buoyed by its commanding lead-ins, Without a Trace scored a season-high 14.47 million viewers, up 19 percent from its previous new eppy. NBC's Momma's Boys debuted to 6.07 mil, while Eli Stone inched up the tiniest hair, to 4.98 mil.

All told, it was CBS' best Tuesday night since ... 1995.