The Big Bang Theory and Scandal soared to series highs Thursday.

Despite returning competition, Big Bang drew 20 million total viewers and a 6.3 in the 18-to-49 demographic, rising two-tenths from last week's record  benchmark. But unlike last week, it didn't boost its lead-outs' numbers.

Winter TV Preview: Must-see new shows

On ABC, Scandal's highly anticipated return drew 8.4 million viewers and a 2.8, up 17 percent from its last new episode a month ago. The drama - users' No. 1 show of 2012 - easily trumped Elementary (11.3 million, 2.4) in the demo. Its lead-ins, Last Resort (5.8 million, 1.2) and Grey's Anatomy (9.2 million, 3.1), were both up. (Catch up with full episodes of Scandal on and on our app for iOS.)

NBC's comedies were up, save for the timeslot premiere of 1600 Penn (3.8 million, 1.6), which was down six-tenths from its post-Voice sneak peek last month, but was on par with Parks and Recreation's performance in the slot.

8 p.m.
CBS: The Big Bang Theory 19.8 million (6.1); Two and a Half Men 14.3 million (4.2)
ABC: Last Resort 5.8 million (1.2)
Fox: Mobbed 3.2 million (1.2)
NBC: 30 Rock 3.7 million (1.4); 1600 Penn (R) 3.9 million (1.4)
CW: Critics Choice Movie Awards 1.9 million (0.6) [8-10 p.m.]

9 p.m.
CBS: Person of Interest 15.5 million (3.3)
ABC: Grey's Anatomy 9.2 million (3.1)
Fox: Glee (R) 2 million (0.7)
NBC: The Office 4.5 million (2.2); 1600 Penn (3.8 million, 1.6)

10 p.m.
CBS: Elementary 11.3 million (2.3)
ABC: Scandal 8.4 million (2.8)
NBC: Rock Center with Brian Williams 3.7 million (1.1)

View original Ratings: Big Bang, Scandal Rise to New Highs at

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Winter TV Preview: Must-see new shows

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Two and a Half MenGrey's AnatomyThe Office30 RockThe Big Bang TheoryGleePerson of InterestMobbedScandalRock Center With Brian WilliamsLast Resort1600 PennElementary