It's rare for any show to build viewers from pilot to second episode, cable or otherwise. SyFy struck gold when it launched Warehouse 13, which has been building nearly every episode to become one of the cable net's highest rated shows, if not the highest for original non-reality programming.
But like I said, that's rare, which makes it even more amazing -- at least to me -- that Stargate Universe has done the same thing, at least across its first two episodes. That's not a knock on SGU, I loved the pilot and I already feel like this is the best stuff that franchise has ever produced, though the pilot did have issues which I hope to write about this week now that all three parts have finally aired. It's just acknowledging reality. Stargate didn't really do as well as Battlestar Galactica did on SyFy and SGU certainly hasn't seen Warehouse 13 territory -- yet -- but improving from week-to-week is not a trivial accomplishment.
To the contrary, the biggest gain came in the most valuable demographic, 18-49, up 22% on a 4% gain overall -- just short of 2.5 million.
This was good enough to beat Dollhouse again on Friday, but that's not necessarily bad news. Dollhouse too found something to be happy about, a substantial increase in viewers with the "live + 7 day" numbers. This is how many people watched the show live plus how many watched it over the next seven days off their DVR. (I'll write more about that when I can get more info on exactly how that works.)
Even though what happened with Stargate Universe is very rare, what happened for Dollhouse was actually more impressive: it gained 50%, making it one of the most DVRed shows on television anywhere. There were other shows that gained more viewers overall, but didn't gain that large a percentage. What's better is that with just the live numbers, Dollhouse picked up a tick from the previous week as well. It may have to keep climbing for a long time to get off the bubble, but there's no arguing that at least for a week, both these series are clearly going in the right direction.
FOX also told the press that they plan to air all 13 episodes of Dollhouse that have been ordered this year, but stopped short of talking about pickup.
Also worth noting is that Fringe, which is struggling but possibly stabilizing in its new time slot, gained 39% from live+7, and Heroes got a badly needed boost of 32% (good for 8th best in the demo.)