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Ratings: Paula Who? Ellen Solid in ‘Idol’ Debut

Fox’s reality juggernaut rolls out sans Paula Abdul, while Jay Leno goes quietly into that good latenight

Fox’s "Past Life" doesn’t seem to have much of a future following a pretty pathetic premiere Tuesday — but Ellen DeGeneres should do just fine.

Bowing after the first night of Hollywood Week on "American Idol," the reincarnaton-themed drama stumbled badly, finishing in fourth place at 9 p.m. despite the monstrous "Idol" lead-in.

Meanwhile, ABC’s "Lost" took its usual post-premiere hit, while Jay Leno ended his primetime run quietly.

Some quick ratings nuggets from Tuesday on a gloomy Wednesday:

– "PL," which really doesn’t deserve an abbreviation because it’s not likely to be around much longer, averaged a 3.1 rating/8 share among adults 18-49 at 9 p.m. That’s about 30 percent of the audience that watched Wednesday’s "Idol" (10.1/26). The drama also took a major nosedive at the half-hour, dropping from a 3.7 at 9 p.m. to a 2.5 at 9:30.

Fox has come to expect big dropoffs from shows that follow "Idol." "Glee," which aired its pilot after part one of last May’s "Idol" finale, averaged a 3.9 demo rating out of a roughly 10.0 for "Idol." But the dropoff for "PL" can’t be spun positively, except perhaps with the old "we got some sampling" saw.

Of course, if "PL" manages to stabilize when it moves to Thursday, generating the same numbers it did Wednesday but without an "Idol" boost, then everyone at Fox will be happy.

– As for "Idol," it didn’t get a major DeGeneres boost — but it did just great. Its demo rating was up 1 percent vs. last year’s first night of Hollywood Week and up 12 percent from last week. Ellen did her thing, she worked it out — and most critical reaction seemed positive.

Oh, and: Paula who?

– Yup, "Lost" (4.9/12) dropped 11 percent from its big premiere last week with a two-hour episode. What, you were expecting a show that makes people use their brains so much to add viewers in week two?

The important thing is that "Lost" easily won the 9 p.m. hour in the demo and doesn’t appear to be limping to the finish line as many series in their final season do. It second episode of 2010 matched the rating the show’s second episode earned in 2009.

At 10 p.m. the debut of Elisa Cuthbert on "ABC’s ‘The Forgotten’" earned a 2.0/6, better than average for this show — but probably not enough to result in a second season.

– There was no rush of nostalgia for the final edition of "The Jay Leno Show." Tuesday’s low-key signoff earned a 1.8/5, down 5 percent from last Tuesday (lead-in "The Biggest Loser" was also down 5 percent).

– While Fox rules the night in demos thanks to an hour of "Idol," let’s give a shout out to the mighty CBS’s overall audience on the night. The Eye averaged 17.4 million viewers Tuesday without any fancy reality show megahits, outdrawing ABC and NBC combine in overall audience and nearly matching Fox’s "Idol" – boosted (18.3 million) nightly tally.

As Sarah Palin might say, Real Americans love CBS.