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'TROUBLE' OR NOTHING

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Christmas week, a perennial dead period for TV, provided even fewer glad tidings for the networks this season — the Big Four’s viewership was off almost 10 percent compared with last year. ABC, which scored a rare weekly win (its third this season), did get an unexpected Sunday ratings boost from the Julia Roberts film I Love Trouble (4th). Meanwhile, CBS’ ongoing Sunday movie success came to a halt thanks to The Sunshine Boys (51st), the Woody Allen-Peter Falk remake that had been shelved since 1995. The fact that Xmas fell on a Thursday was no gift to NBC, which saw its Must See lineup — repeats of Seinfeld (5th), Veronica’s Closet (9th), and Friends (19th) — take a tumble.

TOP 30

VIEWERS* LAST WEEK

1 21.8 FOOTBALL: PATRIOTS VS. DOLPHINS ABC, Monday, 9 p.m. — 2 18.8 TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL (R) CBS, Sunday, 8 p.m. 6 3 18.0 60 MINUTES CBS, Sunday, 7 p.m. 11 4 17.6 MOVIE: I LOVE TROUBLE ABC, Sunday, 9 p.m. — 5 16.3 SEINFELD (R) NBC, Thursday, 9 p.m. 2 6 14.7 MOVIE: I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS CBS, Tuesday, 8 p.m. — 7 14.6 KING OF THE HILL (R) Fox, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. 13 8 14.5 THE X-FILES (R) Fox, Sunday, 9 p.m. 26 9 14.4 VERONICA’S CLOSET (R) NBC, Thursday, 9:30 p.m. 4 10 14.3 ER (R) NBC, Thursday, 10 p.m. 1 11 14.0 HOME IMPROVEMENT (R) ABC, Tuesday, 9 p.m. 8 12 13.8 BEHIND CLOSED DOORS ABC, Tuesday, 10 p.m. — 13 13.7 20/20 ABC, Friday, 10 p.m. 29 14 13.4 MOVIE: THE RIVER WILD (R) NBC, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. — 13.4 THE SIMPSONS (R) Fox, Sunday, 8 p.m. 17 16 12.7 DATELINE NBC NBC, Monday, 10 p.m. 21 12.7 DATELINE NBC NBC, Sunday, 7 p.m. 30 18 12.6 WALKER, TEXAS RANGER (R) CBS, Saturday, 10 p.m. 21 19 12.5 COSBY (R) CBS, Monday, 8 p.m. 24 12.5 FRIENDS (R) NBC, Thursday, 8 p.m. 5 21 12.4 DATELINE NBC NBC, Tuesday, 10 p.m. 15 12.4 3RD ROCK FROM THE SUN (R) NBC, Thursday, 8:30 p.m. — 23 12.2 THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY: A LITTLE PRINCESS ABC, Sunday, 7 p.m. — 24 11.5 SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH (R) ABC, Friday, 9 p.m. 39 25 11.4 FRASIER (R) NBC, Tuesday, 9 p.m. 9 11.4 BOY MEETS WORLD (R) ABC, Friday, 9:30 p.m. — 27 11.2 MOVIE: THE CHRISTMAS BOX (R) CBS, Thursday, 9 p.m. — 28 11.1 GRACE UNDER FIRE ABC, Tuesday, 8 p.m. 55 29 11.0 MAD ABOUT YOU (R) NBC, Tuesday, 8 p.m. 12 11.0 MOVIE: DENNIS THE MENACE (R) NBC, Wednesday, 8 p.m. — 11.0 SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH (R) ABC, Friday, 8 p.m. 55 11.0 WORLD’S FUNNIEST! (R) Fox, Sunday, 7:38 p.m. —

*IN MILLIONS WEEK OF DECEMBER 22-28, 1997 (R) RERUN SOURCE: NIELSEN MEDIA RESEARCH