NEW YORK -- NBC remained the top network in the prime time ratings race last week, unthreatened by the premiere on CBS of the new Mary Tyler Moore show, 'Mary.'
'Mary' ranked 31st in the listings, respectable but not splashy.
The prime time ratings for the week ending Dec. 15, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., gave NBC an 18.2 rating and a 28 percent share of the audience. CBS had 17.2 rating and a 27 share, while ABC had a 14.5 rating and a 22 share.
For the season to date, NBC had a 17.9 rating and a 28 share, CBS was second with a 16.9 rating and a 26 share, and ABC was third with a 15.8 rating and a 24 share.
The CBS strategy for catching up with NBC hinges on the success of 'Mary.' NBC's 'Highway to Heaven,' which has been the leader in that Wednesday, 8-9 p.m. time slot, was considered a show that could be taken.
It didn't happen last week. 'Highway to Heaven' won the time period, with 'Mary' and 'Foley Square,' the sitcom that follows on CBS, in second place. ABC's 'The Insiders' was a poor third. 'Mary,' of course, may yet become a blockbuster -- after all, the original 'Mary Tyler Moore' show was a flop in its first season.
If CBS is less than overjoyed with the performance of 'Mary' in the ratings, ABC received worse news about its 'Dynasty II: The Colbys.' The spinoff tied for 46th place.
The week's top-rated special -- the only one in the top 10 -- was Bob Hope's Christmasshow, in fourth place. Part 1 of the CBS 'Alice in Wonderland' musical came in 13th, but part two came in 35th; perhaps the audience that watched Part 1 was disappointed.
Among the other specials, Barbara Walters (ABC) was 23rd, the Hallmark Hall of Fame production, 'Love Is Never Silent' (NBC) tied for 29th.
Other Christmas shows included 'Christmas in Washington' (NBC), tied for 33rd, 'Perry Como's Christmas in Hawaii,' tied for 43rd, and the 'Johnny Cash Christmas Special,' ranked 53rd.
'CBS Evening News with Dan Rather' remained the No. 1 evening news show for the week, with a 14.3 rating and a 24 share. ABC's 'World News Tonight' was second with a 12.0 rating and a 21 share, and 'NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw' was third with an 11.8 rating and a 20 share.
The top 10 prime time shows for the week ending Dec. 15, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., were:
1. The Cosby Show (NBC)
2. Family Ties (NBC)
3. Murder, She Wrote (CBS)
4. Bob Hope Christmas Special (NBC)
5. 60 Minutes (CBS)
6. Cheers (NBC)
7. Miami Vice (NBC)
8. Highway to Heaven (NBC)
9. Dallas (CBS)