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The new fall TV season: Good news, for a change

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modern-family_lTV ratings may not be what they used to be, thanks to DVRs, cable, and the Internet, but there suddenly seem to be signs of hope for good, old-fashioned broadcast prime time, the likes of which we haven’t seen in several seasons: After a few years of general major-network doom and gloom (and an Emmy broadcast riddled with jokes about the declining industry), CBS and Fox are actually up for the first week of the new season, Hollywood Wiretap reports (7 percent and 35 percent respectively). ABC’s down only a scant 4 percent, and that doesn’t include the premieres of Sunday hits Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. ABC, in fact, notched a few possible early breakouts with Modern Family (pictured) and FlashForward, which both translated solid reviews into better-than-solid numbers. (The CW and NBC have both suffered slides, though neither comes as a huge surprise: The CW has struggled uphill since becoming a merged version of The WB and UPN, and because of its young audience, falls victim to online viewing more than others. And NBC has gone from distressing to dismal in the last few years, a situation apparently not helped by the recent decision to air Jay Leno in prime time five nights a week.)

As both a TV fan and a ratings geek, I personally have felt a surprising (if cautious) thrill this past week, seeing shows whose pilots I loved (Community, Modern Family, FlashForward) catch on with the masses, at least initially. And those shows, in particular, have infused me with an optimism about network television that I haven’t felt since that magical Desperate Housewives/Lost/Grey’s Anatomy season five (!) years ago. How are you feeling, PopWatchers? How has the new season been for you so far? Do you still have faith in network television?

Photo Credit: Ron Tom/ABC