Image Credit: Greg Gayne/CBS; Adam Larkey/ABC; Neil Jacobs/CBSIt was a great night for TV fans, but a tough one for broadcasters: Last night’s official start of the 2010-11 season offered a myriad of diverse choices for the discerning viewer, but the heavy competition made it awfully hard for promising newcomers (hi, Lone Star!) to attract even a smidgen of interest.

Let’s start with the night’s big winner. Whether it was Sarah Palin’s “public advocate for teen pregnancy prevention” daughter Bristol or the return of The Hoff to primetime, the premiere of Dancing with the Stars attracted a behemoth audience: The two-hour show lured a whopping 20.99 million eyeballs to ABC and was up 22 percent in the key adults 18-49 demographic versus last fall’s debut. The sparkly lead-in worked wonders for the return of Castle, which averaged 11.16 million viewers and scored a 22 percent improvement in the demo. (Though the competition attributes the drama’s inflated performance to Dancing’s overrun. Sour pusses!) No surprise, then, that ABC won the night among adults 18-49 and in viewers with 17.7 million.

CBS’ lineup of comedies and the debut of the much-anticipated Hawaii Five-0 also posted some impressive numbers. Despite its advanced age, Two and a Half Men held strong against Dancing at 9 p.m. by averaging 14.49 million. It took second place in viewers but won its half hour in the male categories. The debut of Mike & Molly at 9:30 dropped off from Men and averaged 12.24 million, but it still took second place in viewers. And the return of Alex O’Loughlin in Hawaii Five-0 won the 10 p.m. timeslot in viewers (13.43 million), not to mention the key demos like males and women 25-54 (seems that I’m not the only one who likes to ogle the Aussie).

Fox earned bragging rights for having the highest-rated drama of the night among adults 18-49 with the seventh season return of House. It averaged 10.5 million viewers. Sadly, the hospital show did nothing for the critically-beloved Lone Star, a new drama starring Jon Voight and attractive newcomer James Wolk. The series about a con-man leading a double life only averaged 4.1 million viewers and posted a mere 1.3 rating/3 among adults 18-49.

Over on NBC, the hour-long start of Chuck averaged 6.05 million viewers, but was down 25 percent among adults 18-49 versus the premiere of Heroes last year. The debut of the high-concept drama The Event an hour later, however, posted some much-needed gains in the timeslot: It was up a whopping 68 percent over last fall’s premiere of Trauma among adults 18-49 and lured 11.13 million. The premiere of Chase didn’t fare as well at 10, unfortunately: It was down 53 percent from the premiere of The Jay Leno Show last year in 18-49 and only averaged 7.94 million viewers.

All this heavy competition on the Big Four really didn’t do any favors for the fledgling CW, which only averaged 2.01 million viewers for the entire night. But the network found a few points to brag about: Gossip Girl was up 25 percent versus last week’s premiere in women 18-34 and also attracted a tick more viewers. Congrats?

Episode Recaps

Gossip Girl

Spotted: Serena, Dan, Blair, Chuck, Vanessa, and Nate — hooking up, breaking up, and freaking out. You know you love it! XOXO!

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