Ratings proper begin this week after last week’s skirmishes, but that’s only in the minds of pedants and those in denial after Seven won last week, it’s third in a row.

But that was the last week of the so-called non-ratings period, although Seven forced Nine and Ten into acting as though it was ratings by bringing back some of their new shows to counter the Seven launch.

Nine and Ten both fire their full compliments at Seven this week, starting with the X-Factor for Ten on Sunday and Monday nights, the most important program the Network will launch this year.

It is an attempt to attract a slightly older demographic, more 24 to 39 and a bit beyond rather than exclusively aimed at the 16 to 39 group that Australian Idol and Big Brother target.

Millions of dollars have been spent on licensing and then in production to try and give Ten a much bigger start to the year. Traditionally Ten has sort of ‘wandered’ into the year with a slow start, held up by the Law and Order series, Raymond, The Simpson’s and a couple of lesser series.

Ten’s ratings build as the year goes on and Big Brother, American Idol and then Australian Idol kick in. Sunday night is the second cricket final with Law and Order Criminal Intent on Ten. Nine first, Ten and then Seven (it has run dead ).

Monday is Seven’s with Desperate Housewives, despite Nine running Cold Case at 9.40 pm and the third series of the faltering The Apprentice at 10.40 pm.

Starstruck is at 7.30 (how many less than last week’s 1.58 million will it attract?), with the week’s most intriguing battle, Eddie McGuire’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire up against Desperate Housewives.

This episode of Millionaire is a charity event special with Pauline Hanson, Alicia Molik and Shane Warne playing “Celebrity Roulette” as well.

It’s amazing. After bagging her on Seven’s Dancing with the Stars last year, Nine now goes and recruits her for a one off special of Millionaire that will try and save Eddie’s show from being whacked by Desperate Housewives.

Yep, your suggestions that TV programmers have no shame, are correct!

After the stunning success of Seven’s Desperate Housewives and Lost last week, Ten might have more of a battle on its hands than it though with X-Factor trying to break through to the 16 to 39 and 25 to 54 age groups.

But it will do well, simply because it will be fresher and better produced than Nine’s Starstruck which you can expect will lose ground from this week and end up in some difficulties by the end of March.

It will be going up against Dancing With the Stars on Seven as a stopper program. Without any real ambition to remain on air or any real desire to be anything but a mee-too program, Starstruck is facing problems.

I hear the UK producers of With Stars in their Eyes, are not very amused with the Nine Network and its version of their program, which is not licensed and an attempt to be different. I also hear the producers of the UK version of Nine’s Celebrity Makeover are also underwhelmed at the complement being paid by Nine.

Legal action, anyone? And can anyone update me on what is happening with the legal action against Simon Cowell over X-Factor in the UK by his old mate and partner in the Idol shows?

Seven will reprise Lost and Desperate Housewives again on Saturday night, but Starstruck, which was repeated last Saturday, is now on its own this Monday night only before it switches to Tuesday from next week. Encore, anyone, please?

Seven’s Dancing with the Stars is back Tuesday but Nine is running the Renovate or Detonate special over 90 minutes against it as a stopper. A big bang is the point of difference in the Nine program versus the two stepping of Daryl Somers.

All Saints returns, but with CSI also Tuesday, Nine should have a good night, certainly better than a week earlier. Ten has 90 minutes of The Simpsons, with a new half hour episode at 7.30 between two repeats. Good luck!

Wednesday sees McLeod Daughter’s back on Nine plus CSI Miami and Without a Trace up against Blue Heelers and Border Security on Seven. Nine should win.

Ten has the local version of Queer Eye debuting with a Simpsons repeat as a lead-in. That will be tough and a new series about a medium afterwards, with a Sensing Murder episode to follow.

I wonder if anyone at Ten has managed to foretell the ratings for Wednesday night in that case?

Thursday is Seven’s because of Lost while Ten has its Criminal Intent Special Victims Unit and the new Medical Investigations. Nine has ER and Getaway (which resumes) but My Restaurant Rules and Amazing Race will ensure victory for Seven.

Friday is well, anyone’s, with the ABC to play a role, thanks to the return of Strictly Dancing. Likewise Saturday which sees those repeats of Housewives and Lost on Seven.

Gardening Australia’s shift from Fridays to Saturday evenings starts this week on the ABC, but no sign of the new ‘regional’ series to replace George Negus Tonight.

Peter Fray

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