By James Hibberd
Updated October 04, 2013 at 03:37 PM EDT
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Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC

Four new shows premiered Thursday night to mostly downbeat ratings, but ABC’s stealth bomber hit Scandal returned bigger than ever. The Washington D.C.-set soap continued last season’s rocketing trajectory to post its best ratings yet for its third season premiere.

Scandal delivered 10.5 million viewers and 3.6 rating among adults 18-49. That’s up 71 percent from its premiere last year, and also rises 13 percent from its previous best (the season two finale).

Sadly, that’s nearly the extent of the upbeat ratings news from last night:

— NBC’s inter-racial family comedy Welcome to the Family and Sean Hayes-as-single-dad sitcom Sean Saves the World threw gutter balls, opening to a 1.2 and a 1.8 rating, respectively (full chart below). Welcome to the Family is actually the lowest-rated fall comedy debut in NBC history, and that comes a day after the network unveiled the lowest-rated fall drama in its history with Ironside. Last week’s newcomer The Michael J. Fox Show slipped 14 percent. This is the first Thursday of the season that NBC has all its new comedy lineup firing all at once and not one show is doing a 2.0 rating. NBC has been doing well compared to rivals this fall and has posted gains over last year. But Thursday is a very key night for advertisers. Where does this comedy block go from here?

— CBS launched Will Arnett bathroom-humor sitcom The Millers, which did great with a huge Big Bang Theory lead-in, though not as well as Robin Williams’ The Crazy Ones debut last week. Second week of Crazy Ones, now with The Millers as a lead-in instead of Big Bang, fell 26 percent (which isn’t too bad, given it had a much softer opening act). Two and a Half Men has to be getting a little worrisome, however. The raunchy 11th season comedy just fell 17 percent to a series low. Wouldn’t it be funny if it turned out that Angus T. Jones was the secret glue holding that show together all these years?

— The CW is back! Welcome to the party. The broadcaster launched its fall with The Vampire Diaries returning down 25 percent for its fifth season premiere and spin-off The Originals was down 25 percent from Beauty and the Beast premiere in this slot. The CW points out TVD adds 69 percent to its viewership from streaming on other platforms (in other words: “We don’t need your stupid old Nielsen ratings, we have our own new system and it thinks we’re really cool!”).

— Fox’s X Factor was stable. Glee fell 20 percent to a very modest number. Yet the preview for next week’s Cory Monteith memorial is generating plenty of online interest. Full chart:

NETWORK/TIME/SHOW

ADULT DEMO

TOTAL VIEWERS

FOX

8-9P

X-FACTOR

2.0

6,999

9-10P

GLEE-

1.6

4,549

ABC

8-9P

SCANDAL SP-

S

1.6

5,743

9-10P

GREY ANATOMY-

3.0

9,388

10-11P

SCANDAL-

P

3.6

10,505

CBS

8:00P

BIG BANG-

5.0

17,751

8:30P

MILLERS-

P

3.3

13,152

9:00P

CRAZY ONES-

2.9

11,761

9:30P

TWO&HLF MEN-

2.4

9,255

10-11P

ELEMENTARY-

2.0

9,244

NBC

8:00P

PARK & REC-

1.3

3,463

8:30P

WELCOME FAMILY-

P

1.2

3,316

9:00P

SEAN-WORLD-

P

1.6

4,895

9:30P

MJ FOX SHOW-

1.9

5,920

10-11P

PARENTHOOD-

1.7

4,837

CW

8-9P

VAMPIRE DIARIES-

P

1.2

2,551

9-10P

ORIGINALS-

S

0.9

2,146

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