Ratings: Mars hits, ABC trips

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Veronica Mars found the Hearst rapist last night and viewers found Veronica Mars.

The detective show scored series-best ratings in The CW's targeted 18- to 34-year-old demographic, and tied its best ratings in 18 to 49-year-olds, with 3.5 million viewers overall. The episode "Spit and Eggs" tied up a 13-episode story arc about a rapist stalking the campus of the fictional Hearst College, and in the final seconds skillfully set up a new mystery.

Fox's House scored its best ratings since the show's season-three premiere in September, with a 6.8 rating/17 share in 18 to 49s and 17.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen overnights.

Last week, ABC soared to a 7.0 rating with the finale to Dancing With the Stars. Last night, the network's new wedding comedy Big Day debuted poorly in the time slot, earning a 2.8. Day's poor showing also dragged the Ted Danson comedy Help Me Help You down to a series-low 1.8.

At 8 p.m., ABC earned a 4.8 for A Charlie Brown Christmas Special. CBS came in with a 4.1 for NCIS, and NBC scored a 2.4 for Friday Night Lights. Fox negotiated a 2.3 for Standoff, and The CW came in with 2.2 for the Gilmore Girls, the show's best ratings this season.

At 9 p.m., Fox doctored up a 6.8 for the night's top-rated show, House. CBS took a 3.4 for The Unit, and NBC scored a 3.1 for Law & Order: Criminal Intent. ABC earned a combined 2.3 for Big Day and Help Me. Mars and CW came in with a 1.6.

At 10, NBC arrested a 5.2 for Law & Order: SVU, while ABC scored a 3.0 for Boston Legal. CBS earned a 2.4 for the Stanley Tucci brain midseasoner 3 Lbs.

Overall, Fox earned a 4.6 rating/12 share, with 11.5 million average viewers; NBC 3.6/9, 10.2 million; ABC, 3.4/9, 9.7 million; CBS, 3.3/9, 12.8 million; The CW, 1.9/5, 4.2 million.