NEW YORK – The new season is just days old, but we're already seeing some "winners" and "losers" emerging in the crowded TV landscape.
Here's a look at some early shows that have earned distinction — in both categories:
* "My Name is Earl (search)." The new hillbilly-turns-do-gooder sitcom, starring Jason Lee, snared over 15 million viewers in its debut for hit-starved NBC — and beat returning favorite "Two and a Half Men" on CBS. This one could be a keeper.
* "Lost (search)." The returning ABC drama averaged over 23 million viewers in its second-season debut, putting it in rarefied powerhouse ratings company with ABC stablemate "Desperate Housewives (search)" and "CSI" — and disproving a sophomore jinx. Also provided a great lead-in for "Invasion," which wins here (17 million viewers).
* "Prison Break" and "House" (Fox). "Prison Break" isn't a breakout hit, but has performed solidly and is a critical darling. "House" has shown it can stand on its own without the "American Idol" lead-in it had last season.
* "Everybody Loves Raymond." It's no longer on CBS, but is perfoming very well ... in syndication.
* "Nip/Tuck." Its third-season premiere was the most-watched episode in FX series history (5.3 million viewers). 'Nuf said.
* "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart." It averaged a mere 7.7 million viewers and was soundly whipped by a "Lost" clip show, for crying out loud. And that was after a mountain of hype. Note to Martha: You just don't fit in.
* "Arrested Development." Lots of attention and lavish critical praise failed to translate into viewers: A little over 4 million for the season premiere. Not good.