For ABC Wednesday, the “A” was for the ambition to launch two hours’ worth of new shows, including two back-to-back comedies, the Ed O’Neill-led critical sensation ‘Modern Family’ and the less critically beloved ‘Cougar Town’ starring Courtney Cox
“B” is for the balls it took to put these brand-new programs back-to-back going against fierce season competish, including ‘Criminal Minds’ on CBS and the series premiere of ‘Mercy’ on NBC.
The “C” is for crushing everyone. Here’s a look at how the networks graded out on the third night of the new fall season.
MODERN FAMILY (ABC) – Picked by critics as the top new comedy of the fall season, the new show from writers Steven Levitan (‘Just Shoot Me’) and Chrisopher Lloyd (‘Frasier’) drew 12.7 million viewers and an impressive 4.3 rating among adults 18-49. Together with the Bill Lawrence-produced “Cougar Town” at 9:30, ABC’s new comedy block upped the total audience in the 9 o’clock hour by 34% over an 8 o’clock period that featured “Dancing with the Stars.” Watch the series premiere here.
COUGAR TOWN (ABC) – Lost a little of ‘Modern Family’s’ audience with 11.4 million viewers, but it had the same rating with adults (which is all that really matters in the TV biz)… and it did all this without a lick of help from critics. Watch the series premiere here.
THE JAY LENO SHOW (NBC) – This show will be in third place every night… but a 2.0 rating among adults Wednesday (when all NBC is really hoping for is a 1.5) means that the network is making gobs of money… and that’s how you judge success in the TV business these days. Watch last night’s episode here.
EASTWICK (ABC)– The Alphabet’s new witchy-poo show scored 8.5 million viewers, dropping 30% of “Cougar Town’s” aud… but that was still way better (25% better) than what ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ did in the 10 o’clock hour this time last year. Watch the pilot episode here.
THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (CBS) – It’s never been spectacular, but five seasons in, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is still growing her audience, albeit slightly, scoring 7.7 million viewers.
GARY UNMARRIED (CBS) – The second leg of CBS’ “America’s Night of Divorce!” block was essentially flat with last year’s premiere, while kicking up the 18-49 aud a tenth of a percent over “Christine” with a 2.4 rating.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (Fox) – Actually grew its audience (5.6 million) while going up against ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and CBS’ Wednesday-night comedy block, among other competition.
CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS): Scored 15.4 million viewers, but that was down 11% from last year’s premiere.
AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL (CW) – Short girls have every reason to live… and model. About 2.8 million people had reason to watch – an average-size night for Tyra’s ageing reality franchise.
LAW & ORDER: SVU – Down 34% from last season’s premiere, when it was in the 10 p.m. slot. Whose idea was it to put this thing up against “Criminal Minds,” anyway? Neither show is really benefitting.
MERCY (NBC) – Ranked fourth in the time period with 8.2 million viewers… and dropped 8 percent from the audience culled by freakin’ ‘Knight Rider’ a year ago. Get this patient a deliberator… stat! Watch the pilot episode here.
THE BEAUTIFUL LIFE (CW) – Tiny 0.5 adult demo rating might keep producer Ashton Kutcher focused on punking friends, not developing young-adult dramas. Any more nights like this and “Life” will be the first death of the new fall season.