By James Hibberd
Updated October 18, 2013 at 03:05 PM EDT


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Reign couldn’t hand The CW a big premiere rating Thursday night.

The soapy castle drama received 2 million viewers and a 0.8 rating among adults 18-49, down 33 percent from the premiere of Beauty and the Beast in this slot last fall. Yet lead-in The Vampire Diaries posted a major gain: The vampire drama had 2.8 million viewers and a 1.3 in the demo. That’s up 30 percent. TVD beat NBC’s ailing sitcoms and edged out the second episode of ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland in the 8 p.m. hour.

TVD‘s success makes Reign‘s numbers all the more disappointing — you would think more viewers would have stuck around to check out the new show. But so far this fall, The CW has seen both The Originals and The Vampire Diaries premiere modest, then grow in subsequent episodes, so perhaps that will happen with Reign as well. (Much more on Reign and the fallout from that masturbation flap below).

Lousy news for Wonderland, though. ABC’s Once Upon spinoff dropped 29 percent from last week’s premiere. Wonderland was followed by Grey’s Anatomy (down a little) and Scandal (up a little and hitting its second-best numbers ever).

On the sitcom front, we’re seeing stabilization this week. Most Thursday comedies were within a tenth of a point or two of last week, with some bobbing up. CBS’s The Millers is up 7 percent and The Crazy Ones was up a tenth. It’s a tad confusing since both have a minute of overrun from their respective higher-rated lead-ins that could inflate these early numbers. Still, at worst they’re unchanged — which could be enough at this point to earn both these shows a full season order. Yet 10 p.m. drama Elementary fell 16 percent to a series low, and Two and a Half Men has edged down again. Those Men drops are something to keep an eye on; the show is too expensive at this point in its long life to continue as anything except a clear hit.

Stability isn’t so hot for NBC, which needs to see some radical growth. Still, nobody at the network will argue with Parks and Recreation, Welcome to the Family and Sean Saves the World all improving a tenth of a point this week, with 10 p.m.’s Parenthood up 8 percent. Left out of the rising tide: The Michael J. Fox Show.

More on Reign: The drama tells the story of a young Mary Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane), who meets her betrothed, the future king of France, Prince Francis (Tony Regbo). Early on, critics knocked the show’s liberties with history (see EW’s History … If The CW Shot It gallery). Then on Monday, EW pointed out that the network edited down down a teenage girl’s masturbation scene. (There was a more explicit version in an earlier cut of the pilot sent to the media over the summer.)

The story was picked up by Drudge Report, then many other media outlets, and sparked a debate about masturbation on television. The Parents Television Council slammed the show as “one more example of the way that the entertainment industry is attempting to bring premium cable-level violence and sex to prime-time broadcast.” But Time’s critic asked: “Why’s so shocking about masturbation?” Then Salon added that sex is routinely shown on TV, but female self-pleasure is oddly more taboo: “We’re thoroughly comfortable with women’s bodies being sexualized — but not so much with women being sexual.” Slate then countered that a boy masturbating would have likely met the same fate and theorized that the edit had more to do with “general prudery”: “Masturbation is more shocking than public intercourse not because it returns sexual agency to women but because it severs pleasure from intimacy or emotional connection.” did a gallery of masturbation scenes.

Last night, BuzzFeed posted an interview with Reign showrunner Laurie McCarthy exclusively focusing on this scene. McCarthy noted the scene was part of producers’ original pitch to the network, which took it in stride, and that she was comfortable with the changes. “I thought it would be something that was discussed, but I didn’t think it would fire people up,” she said. “It’s just not that big of a deal. To me, it’s almost like making a big deal out of making toast. Which people do a couple of times a week!”

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A sexy, historical fiction CW take on the lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and her royal court.
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