NEW YORK -- Perhaps it's just the onset of summer. Certainly viewer tastes last week were out of joint compared with the winter just past.
When 'Dallas' dropped its 'Who Shot J.R.' cliffhanger on the public last year, it scored a rating of 53.3 and a whopping viewer share of 76 per cent. CBS has been running repeats of the historical sequence working up to the denouement but it seems nobody cares any more.
Last week, the replay scored only a 15 rating and a 28 share -- the biggest drop ever for a popular second run.
The No. 1 slot -- where 'Dallas' usually sits -- was occupied by the CBS broadcast of the'Miss U.S.A' pageant. Two heavy social message pieces -- CBS's 'Violation of Sarah McDavid,' starring Patty Duke Astin, and NBC's 'Bitter Harvest,' in which Ron Howard played a real-life Wisconsin dairy farmer caught in the nightmare of PBB chemical pollution -- made the top 10. 'Violation was in fifth place, 'Harvest' in 10th.
CBS won the week with a rating of 16.5. ABC was second, at 14.3 and NBC placed third with 13.9. CBS also led evening news broadcast ratings, but by a narrower margin. Through May 22, it was CBS 11.4, ABC 11.2, NBC 10.2.
The top 10 network programs for the week ending May 24, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. Miss U.S.A (CBS).
2. Silver Streak (CBS).
3. M-A-S-H (CBS).
4. Three's Company (CBS).
5. Violation of Sarah McDavid (CBS).
6. Happy Days (ABC).
7. Too Close for Comfort (ABC).
8. The Jeffersons (CBS).
9. Laverne and Shirley (ABC).
10. Bitter Harvest (NBC).