Ratings: Two and a Half Men Gets Very High Sans Sheen, With a Record 28.7 Million Viewers

Ashton Kutcher is indeed packing. Viewers, and a lot of ’em. The season premiere of CBS’ rejiggered Two and a Half Men on Monday night drew a series-high 27.7 million total viewers, almost doubling the audience of the sitcom’s year-ago opener.

The much-anticipated outing also scored a whopping 10.3 rating in the coveted 18-49 demo, more than doubling its tally there from the 2010 premiere.

What’s more, Men‘s mighty return represents ths most-watched season premiere for any scripted show since Desperate Housewives circa 2005.

(UPDATE: According to the finals, Men was adjusted up to 28.74 million viewers and a 10.7 rating.)

The ‘New’ Two and a Half Men: Our Two and a Half Cents on the Premiere

All told, CBS’ sitcom line-up had much to smile about. A double helping of How I Met Your Mother delivered 11.7 million viewers and a 4.9 rating, up some 34 percent from a year ago and both all-time highs, while 2 Broke Girls cashed in on their one-time lead-in by premiering to 19.2 mil and a 7.0 — up 57 and 79 percent from Mike & Molly‘s series debut. (CBS notes that 2 Broke Girls marks TV’s most-watched comedy premiere since 2001’s Inside Schwartz.)

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The night’s other big gainer was ABC’s Castle, which with 13.6 million viewers and a 3.2 rating improved on its previous premiere by 21 and 14 percent, respectively. Elsewhere in the 10 o’clock slot, Hawaii Five-0 returned to 12 million viewers and a 3.4 rating (shedding half of its lead-in and down 10 percent from its 2010 debut, but besting Castle in the demo), while NBC’s The Playboy Club (5 mil/1.6) only drew two-thirds of the numbers Chase chased a year ago — and we all know how that turned out.

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And lastly, in the reality-TV realm: The Dancing With the Stars premiere (18.6 mil/3.9) dropped 12 percent from last fall’s opener, while NBC’s The Sing-Off didn’t even manage Chuck numbers, mustering just 5.2 million viewers and a 1.9 rating.

What were you watching this Monday night?