Off to a Sluggish Start

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The New Year has thus far returned lukewarm viewership results for several returning and new scripted cable shows.

USA Network's venerable dramedy series Monk continues to defy ratings logic as the series' Jan. 9 seventh and final season premiere drew 5.2 million viewers. Still, that was down slightly from the 5.6 million the show drew for its season six debut in January 2008.

Monk's return was the most-watched show on cable during the week of Jan. 5 through Jan. 11, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Following Monk, Psych drew 4.6 million in its third season debut, down from 4.1 million viewers who tuned in for its sophomore debut.

FX pinned down strong returns for its long-running series Nip/Tuck, drawing 3.1 million viewers for its first original episodes since last fall. Through 15 episodes, the fifth season of the plastic surgery-themed show is averaging 3.5 million viewers, down 10% from the same number of episodes for season four, according to FX.

FX's sophomore series Damages also failed to match viewership numbers from its previous season. The Glenn Close starrer drew 1.7 million viewers for its Jan. 7 second-season debut, well below the 3.6 million viewers the show drew in its July 2007 premiere, according to Nielsen.

On the comedy front, actor/producer/comedian Tyler Perry launched his second hit series on TBS with the Jan. 7 premiere of Meet the Browns. The series, based on characters in Perry's theatrical film of the same name, averaged 4.0 million viewers in its debut, according to Nielsen.

It's the best performance for a debut comedy series on cable since Tyler Perry's House of Payne drew a cable record 5.8 million viewers in its June 2007 series debut, according to TBS.

As for curtain calls, two Sci Fi Channel series, Sanctuary and Stargate Atlantis, drew 2 million viewers in their respective Jan. 9 season finales. For Atlantis, the final episode also concluded the show's five-year run on Sci Fi.

Looking forward, A&E Network will take a swing at early ratings success with the Jan. 15 premiere of its newest scripted drama The Beast, starring cancer-stricken Patrick Swayze as a hard-nosed but conflicted FBI agent.

Sci Fi Channel's Battlestar Galactica will blast off for the last time as the final 10 episodes of Sci Fi's top-rated series debut Jan. 16.

On USA, Burn Notice will launch the second half of its sophomore season Jan. 22. The series, starring Jeffrey Donavan as a former spy terminated or “burned” by the government, averaged 5.8 million viewers during the first half of its summer 2008 second season run, according to Nielsen.