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"Modern Family" Kicks Some Nielsen Ass

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | September 24, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | September 24, 2009 |

Some good news to end the day: “Modern Family,” a show that we’ve been championing all week here on Pajiba, turned in a very impressive debut last night. How strange it is for a good network television show to actually put up decent numbers. It debuted with 12.7 million viewers and, more importantly, a 4.3 rating among the coveted 18-49 demographic, which was actually way up for its lead-in, “Dancing with the Stars” (3.2). Compare that to I’m sorry, but it’s tanking, “Glee,” (although Dan doesn’t agree) over on Fox (6.6 million, 3.0), and its 30 percent better ratings than “Accidentally on Purpose” on CBS and 13 percent better than “Community” on NBC, and it looks like, by damn, we have an honest to God comedy hit on our hands. In fact, “Modern Family,” was the biggest debut for a sitcom on any network in two years.

Where’s our full season order, ABC?

“Cougar Town,” also held up particularly well, despite a less than enthusiastic critical reception. It had 11.3 million viewers, but held on to the 4.3 rating of “Modern Family” among the 18-49 viewers. “Eastwick,” dropped 30 percent, but still managed health ratings and it was 25 percent up over last year’s “Dirty Sexy Money,” in the same time slot (our review of “Eastwick” is coming next week).

Meanwhile, the debut of NBC’s “Mercy” did not fare so well (8.2 million, 2.3), landing fourth in its time slot (we will review that soon, too, if I can force myself all the way through it. It’s a slog). “Law and Order: SVU” (8.4 million, 2.5) was also way down from last year, now that it’s in the tougher 9 pm slot (thanks to Leno taking the 10:00 slot, which only managed 6.6 million viewers, 2.0)

The lesson here: Turns out network television isn’t necessarily dead. We’ll tune in to see new shows, and we might just come back if they’re decent.

Pajiba After Dark 9/24/09 | The Pajiba Movie Club -- Night of the Living Dead

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.