By James Hibberd
October 04, 2013 at 03:37 PM EDT

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:

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