By Lynette Rice
December 03, 2010 at 05:42 PM EST

Image Credit: Danny Feld/ABC; Liane Hentscher/Fox; Chris Haston/NBCIt was arguably the best, most original episode of Fringe to date. Too bad so many of you missed it: Only 5.1 million people tuned into the Fox drama Thursday night, which was also down 5 percent in adults 18 to 49 (1.8 rating/5 share) from its most recent airing on Nov. 18. If this genre series were on AMC (or featured zombies), the media world would be calling it a monster hit. Sadly, the threshold for success is far different on broadcast TV, so Fringe will always be viewed as a niche performer with a small but rabid fan base. Let’s hope it finds a far more comfortable home on Fridays where it’ll face less competition.

ABC was the network that ruled Thursday in 18-49 (3.1/8). Following the annual special Santa Claus is Coming to Town (2.3/7, 7.3 million), Grey’s Anatomy scored a timeslot-winning 4.0/10 and 10.9 million viewers,  followed by Private Practice (2.9/8, 7.9 million). NBC finished second in the demo (2.2/6) for airing originals of Community (1.9/6, 4.5 million), 30 Rock (2.3/6, 5 million), The Office (3.7/10, 7.3 million), Outsourced (2.5/7, 5.3 million) and The Apprentice (1.4/4 4 million). Fox finished third in the demo, with Bones posting a 2.4/7 and 8.8 million.

CBS was fourth in the demo (1.9/5) because it aired repeats. It came in first, however, in viewers (9 million), followed by ABC (8.7 million), Fox (7 million), NBC (5 million), Univision (3.8 million) and The CW (3.2 million). The CW won the night in teens and females 12-17.