Ratings: Back to the Hurt Locker for NBC on Monday

“Law & Order” falls below Leno average at 10 p.m. “Trauma” tanks. Are changes in the works?

Last Updated: March 9, 2010 @ 12:19 PM

NBC’s post-Olympics momentum stalled Monday, with "Trauma" tanking and "Law & Order" falling below Jay Leno’s 10 p.m. average.

It was a tough night all-around for 10 p.m. dramas. With three first-run dramas competing in the hour for the first time this season, everyone took a hit: CBS’s "CSI: Miami" (3.3/10) matched a series low while "Castle" (2.4/7) slipped a tad to its lowest number since December.

But it was NBC that crawled into the hurt locker this morning.

The problem started at 9 p.m., with the previously sorta-canceled "Trauma" (1.4/3) returning from the grave as a Nielsen zombie. It hit its lowest rating yet, falling 22 percent from its fall average and 13 percent from its last original. It wouldn’t be shocking if NBC decided to quickly replace "Trauma" in the timeslot.

That’s because "Trauma" tainted "L&O," which managed a third-place 1.5/4 at 10 p.m. — down 25 percent from last week, when NBC aired a double dose of the drama from 9-11 p.m. Worse, "L&O" was actually off 6 percent from what "The Jay Leno Show" had been averaging at 10 p.m. Mondays.

NBC — which actually did quite well last week, given the fact that it had to fill 5 hours of primetime post-Jay– does not want to see any negative Leno-to-scripted comparisons at 10 p.m. Period.

Indeed, with NBC settling back to Leno-like numbers at 10 p.m., the late-night race almost predictably got tight again. In the 25 markets with overnight demos, "Tonight Show" (1.2/5) virtually tied "Late Show" (1.1/5).

Possible "Trauma" replacements could be an encore of some "L&O" series. Or, if "Minute to Win It" shows any signs of life on Sundays when it bows later this week, NBC might mull double-pumping it (that might mean ordering extra episodes).

Elsewhere Monday, Charlie Sheen’s troubles haven’t hurt "Two and a Half Men." The show had its best demo score in three years (17.5 million, 5.8/15 in adults 18-49), helping "The Big Bang Theory" (16.3 million, 5.8/15) to another winning performance.

Earlier, "Rules of Engagement" (3.6/9) is once again proving to be a good fit with "How I Met Your Mother" (3.9/11), retaining much more of its lead-in to the canceled-but-it-doesn’t-know-it-yet "Accidentally on Purpose."

Over at ABC, a "Bachelor" wedding (2.7/7) wasn’t as hot as the regular "Bachelor," but it filled two hours on a Monday with solid numbers at a low cost, and allowed ABC to shorted the season of "Dancing with the Stars" another week. All good for ABC.

Fox, meanwhile, continues to own 8 p.m. with "House" (4.8/13), though the show slipped 6 percent from its last pre-Olympics original. At 9, "24" (2.8/7) benefited from the lack of super-tough reality competition on ABC and NBC’s weak drama: It was up 12 percent week-to-week (but is still trending below last season).