A little sibling rivalry, some sexual frustration, a bit of Oedipal humiliation, and some family squabbling around the breakfast table — it may have been just another day at the office for the cast of Everybody Loves Raymond, but Monday’s series finale resulted in a huge night for CBS, according to early Nielsen estimates. The sitcom ended its nine-year run with minimal sentimentality but drew big ratings, as an estimated 32.1 million tuned in to see the Barone family argue with and embarrass each other one last time. Some 24.7 million stuck around to watch Two and a Half Men, and another 23.2 million watched CSI: Miami after that, giving both of those shows their biggest audiences ever. Even the hour-long retrospective that preceded the Raymond finale drew 23.9 million.
Despite the competition, ABC and Fox did well too. ABC’s three-hour Bachelor finale drew 9.3 million, a bit above average for the season. The second-to-last 24 of the season gave Fox a solid 11.4 million directly opposite Raymond. The only weak spot was NBC’s Hercules, which labored to pull in just 7.2 million. Maybe it would have done better if NBC had given the muscleman an exasperated wife, smothering parents, and a whiny brother.