‘Last Man On Earth’ has strong premiere

Will Forte’s "Last Man On Earth" became a rare comedy breakout last night, which also featured the debuts of dramas "Secrets And Lies" and "Battle Creek."

Fox’s Last Man premiered with a 2.3 rating among adults 18-49. While that is tied for the fourth-biggest new comedy series debut this season, the majority of the other series benefited from big lead-ins — "Modern Family" (No. 1 Black-ish), "Big Bang Theory" (No. 2 "The Odd Couple") and "The Voice" (tied for No. 4 "Marry Me"). The only other top comedy opener to build onto its lead-in this season, No. 3 "Fresh Off the Boat" (2.5), also had a solid Live+Same Day lead-in "(The Middle," 2.2). Meanwhile, "Last Man On Earth" followed "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" (1.8). What’s more, "Last Man On Earth" kept its viewers, with the first and second episode both drawing a 2.3 demo rating.

It was Fox’s highest-rated comedy premiere since "Brooklyn" did a 2.6 on Tuesday in September 2013 and the network’s biggest comedy debut in men 18-49 in nearly three and a half years, since "New Girl" in September 2011. "Last Man" was the top program in 18-49 on the commercial broadcast networks last night and led Fox to a nightly victory in the demo.

The rest of Fox’s Sunday comedy lineup rebounded from being pummeled by the "SNL 40" special two weeks ago. In its time slot premiere at 7 PM, "Bob’s Burgers" (1.4) was up +56 percent from its last airing at 9:30 PM on February 15. "The Simpsons" (1.8) was up + 64 percent, "Brooklyn" (1.8) was up +100 percent.

ABC’s "Once Upon A Time" (2.2 in 18-49) again returned up from its winter finale (+29 percent from a 1.7 on December 14). The two-hour series premiere of "Secrets & Lies" did a so-so 1.5 from 9-11 PM. It was down sharply (-61 percent) from the debut of drama "Resurrection" (3.8) in the 9-10 PM hour the same Sunday last year with a similar lead-in (2.3), though "Resurrection" benefited from a massive marketing campaign. "Secrets & Lies" did far better than the January premieres of "Resurrection" (1.1) and "Revenge" (0.9) in the 9-11 PM time periodwith a "Galavant" (2.0) lead-in. "Secrets & Lies" also had a respectable hold, averaging a 1.5 for each of its four half-hours.

It was tougher sledding for new CBS drama-comedy "Battle Creek". In a somewhat of a head-scratcher— despite boasting a big-name star, Josh Duhamel, as one of its leads, as well as Vince Gilligan and David Shore as key auspices–"Battle Creek" opened with a paltry 1.0 in 18-49 at 10 PM. It didn’t get much help from the rest of the CBS Sunday lineup as both "Madam Secretary" (1.3) and "The Good Wife" (1.1) returned from hiatus down, by -24 percent and -21 eprcent, respectively.

A lot of the Sunday broadcast series are DVR-friendly and faced AMC juggernaut "The Walking Dead" and the season finale of "Downton Abbey" on PBS, so we will have to wait for Live+3 numbers to get a better sense of how some of the series/midseason premieres did.

NBC stayed out of contention with a "The Voice" repeat and "Dateline."

Related stories" 'Battle Creek' Review: Vince Gilligan's Old Script Witty Addition To CBS' Sunday, Says Dominic Patten'Secrets & Lies' Review: Truth Is There's Not Much There, Says Dominic Patten Oscars: 'Black-ish' Movie Dances, 'The Goldbergs' Charlie Sheen Episode, 'HTGAWM' Finale, 'Once' & 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' Returns, 'Secrets' Among ABC Promos