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MAD ABOUT 'MALCOLM'

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There’s nothing middling about it: Fox’s post-Simpsons premiere of Malcolm in the Middle (5th) lured 22.4 million folks, making it the biggest series debut for the network in a decade and kicking off the mid-season on a high note. Perhaps the show’s titular whiz kid should try his luck on the two newest entries in the game-show showdown: NBC’s Maury Povich-hosted Twenty One (17th) and CBS’ Winning Lines (58th), led by Dick Clark. While both offered no real competition for ABC’s returning Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (2nd), they proved audiences are still game for the ever-expanding genre. Viewers are also eager for some swift justice, as Law & Order (11th) copped 18.3 million viewers, while its spin-off, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (26th), won its new Friday night at 10 p.m. slot.

TOP 30 VIEWERS* LAST WEEK

1 28.7 ER NBC, Thursday, 10 p.m. 14 2 28.2 WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE ABC, Sunday, 9 p.m. — 3 27.0 FOOTBALL: VIRGINIA TECH VS. FLORIDA STATE ABC, Tuesday, 8:11 p.m. — 4 24.1 FRASIER NBC, Thursday, 9 p.m. 8 5 22.4 MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE Fox, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. — 6 22.3 FRIENDS NBC, Thursday, 8 p.m. 10 7 22.1 60 MINUTES CBS, Sunday, 7:12 p.m. 3 8 19.2 THE PRACTICE ABC, Sunday, 10 p.m. — 9 18.9 TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL CBS, Sunday 8:12 p.m. 2 10 18.8 STARK RAVING MAD NBC, Thursday, 9:30 p.m. 21 11 18.3 LAW & ORDER NBC, Wednesday, 10 p.m. 16 12 18.1 JESSE NBC, Thursday, 8:30 p.m. 20 13 17.9 THE SIMPSONS Fox, Sunday, 8 p.m. 11 14 17.5 EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (R) CBS, Monday, 9 p.m. 9 15 16.9 BECKER (R) CBS, Monday, 9:30 p.m. 13 16 16.8 MOVIE: GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE (R) ABC, Sunday, 7 p.m. — 17 16.1 TWENTY ONE NBC, Sunday, 8 p.m. — 18 15.6 THE X-FILES Fox, Sunday, 9 p.m. 29 19 15.4 PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS CBS, Sunday, 9:12 p.m. — 20 15.0 PROVIDENCE NBC, Friday, 8 p.m. — 21 14.8 FOOTBALL: ATLANTA VS. SAN FRANCISCO ABC, Monday, 9:07 p.m. — 22 14.5 DATELINE NBC NBC, Friday, 9 p.m. — 23 14.2 KING OF QUEENS (R) CBS, Monday, 8 p.m. 18 24 14.1 MOVIE: MRS. DOUBTFIRE (R) Fox, Tuesday, 8 p.m. — 25 14.0 DATELINE NBC NBC, Wednesday, 8 p.m. 28 26 13.7 LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT NBC, Friday, 10 p.m. — 13.7 THE WEST WING NBC, Wednesday, 9 p.m. 52 28 13.3 DIAGNOSIS MURDER CBS, Thursday, 8 p.m. — 29 12.6 THE DREW CAREY SHOW ABC, Wednesday, 9 p.m. — 30 12.2 WALKER, TEXAS RANGER CBS, Saturday, 10 p.m. —

*IN MILLIONS WEEK OF JAN. 3-9, 2000 (R) RERUN SOURCE: NIELSEN MEDIA RESEARCH

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