By James Hibberd
January 10, 2011 at 08:54 PM EST

Showtime’s triple punch of three comedy premieres Sunday night included the return of Californication delivering its best season debut rating yet.

Even without its usual Dexter lead-in, David Duchovny & Co. pulled in 848,000 viewers at 9 p.m. for its fourth season opener (and 1. 1 million viewers total if you include its repeat).

New series Shameless, starring William H. Macy, and Episodes, with the TV comedy return of Matt LeBlanc, also performed well.

Shameless rose slightly from its lead-in with 982,00 viewers (1.3 million for the night). That’s a bit below what The Big C delivered out of the gate last summer, but Showtime says is the network’s highest-rated drama debut in seven years (Showtime is funny like that: Shameless, which everybody is calling a comedy, the network is calling a drama; cancer series The Big C, which everybody calls a drama, Showtime calls a comedy).

Episodes delivered a more modest 768,000 viewers (902,000 for the night). All told, this was a good start for Showtime’s comedy block.

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