NEW YORK – Tony Soprano isn't the only TV bald guy having a good week.
Dr. Phil, the new syndicated talk show hosted by Oprah shrink Phil McGraw, scored terrific numbers in its Monday debut -- notching the highest ratings in syndication since Oprah rolled out nationally in 1986.
"It's a breakout hit -- and it couldn't be better for the world of syndication," said Mediaweek analyst Marc Berman.
Nationally, Dr. Phil notched a 5.3 overnight rating on its first day -- nearly twice the ratings that would have been considered a good start for a new show.
Dr. Phil's inaugural numbers carried over into Tuesday, as it averaged a 5.0 overnight rating.
"There hasn't been a bona fide hit in syndication since Rosie O'Donnell six years ago and this show is here to stay," Berman said. "People were at the point where they were thinking, 'What's the point of bringing out someone new? People are just not watching syndicated programming.' "
"He's got that great ruboff from Oprah and the audiences love him," said industry analyst Tom DeCabia of PHD USA, an ad consulting firm. "They don't look at him as a screaming, babbling idiot.
"The sampling has been there early, and I think he'll have a good, long run," DeCabia said. "Unlike the Jerry Springers . . . there's a lot of sincerity with him."
There's also a lot of strategic planning. Dr. Phil is a co-production between Harpo Productions (Winfrey's company), Paramount Television and King World.
For starters, all three companies agreed that Dr. Phil would never air opposite Oprah -- meaning it wouldn't compete with the biggest hit in syndication.
"In fairness to its competitors, Dr. Phil has the best timeslot and Oprah doesn't run opposite him," said Berman.