TV RATINGS : ‘L.A. Law’ Powers an NBC Win

Rosalind Shays’ plunge down an elevator shaft sent “L.A. Law’s” ratings soaring. Ratings released Tuesday by the A. C. Nielsen Co. ranked NBC’s Emmy Award-winning legal drama as the third most-watched program of last week, in terms of numbers of homes reached--17.3 million. It was the highest rating for “L.A. Law” this season and its highest finish ever in the weekly standings. With “Cheers,” “A Different World,” “In the Heat of the Night” and “The Cosby Show” also in the Top 10, NBC won the week, with ABC second and CBS third.

Show Points Share 1. “60 Minutes” (CBS) 19.7 34 2. “Cheers” (NBC) 19.1 30 3. “L.A. Law” (NBC) 18.6 32 4. “Family Matters” (ABC) 17.4 30 “Major Dad” (CBS) 17.4 26 * “Shannon’s Deal” (NBC) 10.2 20

* The ratings list can sometimes be misleading. “Shannon’s Deal,” in its season premiere last Saturday, ranked only 55th among the week’s 83 prime-time series on the four networks. But fewer people generally watch television on Saturdays than any other night of the week, so it’s tough for any show to draw ratings that are competitive with hit shows on other nights (though “The Golden Girls” and “Empty Nest” manage). As it happened, the offbeat drama about a lawyer in Philadelphia won its 10 p.m. time period. Future installments will be seen Tuesdays at 9 p.m.