The Doctor is finally in

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The premiere of the much-talked-about Dr. Laura topped the debuts of last week's syndicated strips.

She jumped 10% from her opening-day weighted metered-market average to a 2.2 rating/7 share Tuesday, according to Nielsen Media Research. But her two-day average was still 13% off the year-ago time period average (2.4/8) and 16% off her averaged lead-in (2.5/9).

By organizing protests, "we probably helped her ratings," laments John Aravosis, spokesman for the Web site StopDrLaura.com

The controversy didn't provide a big bump in some top markets. Granted, Dr. Laura's second episode was up 63% on WCBS-TV New York, but that was from a 0.8/2 (to a 1.3/4). And it wasn't enough of a jump to move it out of sixth place in the time period.

But things were looking up early on in the nation's No. 2 market, Los Angeles, where Dr. Laura was up 44% to a 2.3/6 on its second day. That bumped her up from fifth to third in the time period, tying with KNBC-TV's Rosie O'Donnell. Dr. Laura continues to gain on her Guiding Light (0.9/3) lead-in on the station, by a whopping 155% on Tuesday.

As far as outpacing the premieres of other syndicated strips, Dr. Laura on Monday topped Columbia TriStar's Judge Hatchett (1.8/6), King World's Curtis Court (1.3/5) and Buena Vista's talk series Housecalls (1.1/4). Younger-skewing court entry Judge Hatchett fell 14% from its year-ago time-period average (2.2/7) and 14% from its lead-in (2.0/7). But Hatchett was still Columbia TriStar's highest-rated debut for a first-run strip, beating Ricki Lake (1.7/6). And it was the best of the bunch in terms of Monday's syndicated debuts in New York (2.5/10), Los Angeles (2.2/8) and Chicago (3.1/10), the nation's top three markets.

Judge-with-a-heart Curtis Court, although down 17% from its time-period average (1.5/6), did hold on to its lead-in average. On-the-road relationship strip Housecalls fared the poorest, dropping 33% from both its time period (1.7/6) and lead-in (1.6/6).

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