Gotham 01

Who needs Batman?

Fox’s big-swing crime thriller Gotham opened to very strong ratings Monday night. Gotham premiered to 8 million viewers and a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49. Gotham — the story of heroic Det. Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) fighting iconic DC Comics villains and protecting a young pre-Batman Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) — was predicted to have fall’s biggest opening by industry insiders. It’s far too early to give Gotham that crown, but 3.2 is considered a very good demo number, especially for 8 p.m. against heavy competition. CBS’ Madam Secretary, which opened Sunday night, has the new show fall lead among total viewers.

Fox debuted Gotham right up against back-to-back episodes of TV’s biggest comedy, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, which predictably exploded — 17.9 million viewers for the hour and a 5.3 in the demo. That’s down slightly from last year’s record-setting Thursday night premiere, so let’s cue the jokes blaming Kaley Cuoco‘s haircut (even the show made one, with Jim Parsons’ character Sheldon quipping during the premiere: “Your hair is different. You changed your hair. I can’t take this. I’m out.”) Don’t read anything into that decline as it’s pretty expected given Big Bang‘s time-slot change, its towering performance last fall, and that this is basically the first night of the new season so viewers are still figuring out that their shows are coming back.

The Big Bang double-header led into CBS’ premiere of new drama series Scorpion — which is like a Big Bang Theory-inspired procedural where a team of super-geeks solve crimes. Scorpion had 14 million viewers and a 3.3 rating. You can argue that performance is less impressive than Gotham since the CBS drama had such a mammoth lead-in, or more impressive since Gotham has more brand awareness.

Gotham, meanwhile, led into the return of Sleepy Hollow, which took an ugly dip for its season 2 premiere — 5.5 million viewers and a 2.0 rating, down 43 percent from last year’s opener. Fox was likely hoping the fantasy thriller would see a bigger number here, especially since Sleepy Hollow is now paired with a strong and somewhat similar lead-in with Gotham.

Over on NBC, The Voice return also dropped — 12.7 million viewers and a 3.9 rating — with new judges Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams on board. That’s down 24 percent from last fall to mark the show’s lowest debut yet and is pretty expected given the general downward trend of singing competition shows in recent years.

At 10 p.m., NBC’s The Blacklist (12.5 million, 3.4) slipped too, but not by very much at all. The Blacklist was only down 11 percent, even though its Voice lead-in was down by more than double that amount. Most shows never get anywhere close to their series premiere rating ever again, so this is quite a strong return for the James Spader thriller and it just dominated the hour. In fact, NBC says this is the show’s second-biggest rating ever.

Yet there was one new series debut last night that face-planted: At 10 p.m., ABC’s immortality drama Forever had 8.3 million viewers from its Dancing with the Stars lead-in, but a mere 1.5 rating, down 32 percent from Castle in this slot last fall — a show doesn’t get to have a long life with those numbers.