'Weeds' Lights Up Showtime

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The third-season premiere of Weeds came out smoking, setting the stage for a strong debut for Showtime's rookie comedy Californication.

Weeds attracted 824,000 viewers during its 10 p.m. time slot on Aug. 13, a best-ever for the Mary Louise Parker-vehicle in which she stars as a widowed suburban house wife supporting her family by selling marijuana. The Monday-night installment was up 43% over the show's second-season debut, according to network officials.

The second-half of the comedy block, Californication, got out of the gate fast, drawing 550,000 viewers to rank as Showtime's best-ever comedy series launch. That performance bested the 488,000 that watched Weeds' debut in 2005.

Coupled with a same-night encore showing, Californication — in which David Duchovny stars as a transplanted New Yorker with a writing block, a failed relationship and the ability to bed women — scored with 795,000 viewers in total that night.

For its part, Weeds added another 400,000 in its re-air, lifting its Aug. 13 total to some 1.24 million, according to Nielsen figures comprising live, plus same-day watchers.

The comedy block's debut is a prelude to the network's drama pairing of the second seasons of Dexter and Brotherhood on Sept. 30 at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.

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