The suits at NBC woke up in a panic this morning, knowing they’d have to find some old Seinfeld-era “We won!” boilerplate to dust off. The network dominated (yes, you read that correctly) Monday night with its tag team of singing competition The Voice and singing drama Smash, winning the 18-49 demo in the 8pm to 10pm time slot on a Monday for the first time since 2008.

Following up on its mondo post-Super Bowl episode, The Voice drew a 6.6 rating in the adult demo and 17.7 million viewers overall. It was the best performance for NBC in that time slot since the Winter Olympics in 2004. The Voice‘s second hour was particularly impressive, scoring a 7.3 adult demo rating and 19.30 million viewers. That’s like American Idol circa 2008 stuff right there.

The debut of Broadway drama Smash fed off The Voice‘s lead-in with a 3.8 adult demo rating and 11.5 million viewers. Keep in mind that NBC’s singalong was up against new episodes from the competition, including House, The Bachelor, and CBS’s comedy lineup.

Now for the reality. One of the surprise hits from last season, The Voice has proven itself to be NBC’s lifeline. But we should expect ratings to continue to slide after the Super Bowl hangover wears off. The high hopes for Smash probably exceeded what the Broadway drama actually achieved, but for a 10pm debut on NBC, those numbers are pretty solid. The real question is whether word of mouth and positive reviews will be able to build Smash‘s audience; that’s a rare occurrence, and has a better chance of happening with cable shows that start with small audiences.

Look, when you’re surrounded by crap, you have to start shoveling somewhere. And Mondays appear to be the launching point for NBC to dig itself out of last place. It’s going to be a long road, though. Last night was a good start for the struggling network, but once Monday is over, the rest of the week’s dismal programming looms ahead. Maybe Christina Aguilera’s weird chest can guest-star on Grimm to boost ratings?

I don’t want to take anything away from NBC’s victory last night. It was a big one for the network, and the champagne should be flowing. But NBC’s problems are so widespread that it’s going to take a little more than a few high notes to change its tune.

Do you think The Voice and Smash will kick off a comeback for NBC?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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