Williams tops Fox in return of sitcom vets

NEW YORK – Robin Williams has early bragging rights over Michael J. Fox in the competition between two sitcom veterans returning to network TV – with an asterisk.

The Nielsen company said Friday that Williams’ new CBS comedy, “The Crazy Ones,” debuted before 15.6 million people on Thursday night. It competed directly at 9 p.m. Eastern with “The Michael J. Fox” on NBC, which was seen by 7.2 million people.

Williams, who plays an advertising executive working in a firm with his daughter, had a huge advantage. His new sitcom directly followed a new episode of television’s most popular comedy, “The Big Bang Theory,” which was seen by 19.5 million people in the second of a two-part season premiere.

By contrast, the second half hour of “Parks & Recreation” on NBC, which preceded Fox’s new show, had less than 3 million viewers.