The debut of ABC’s Happy Town — a serialized drama about a small Minnesota town that’s haunted by a series of unsolved kidnappings — wasn’t worth smiling about: It posted ABC’s lowest-rated series premiere of the season, down 43 percent from Eastwick’s debut in the time period last fall. The drama only attracted 5.2 million viewers and a 1.7 rating/5 share among adults 18-49; far lower than what Eastwick earned on Sept. 23 (a 3.0/8, 8.5 million viewers).
With original episodes of The Middle, Modern Family, and Cougar Town as lead-ins, Happy Town still finished second in its time slot against an original of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (it helped that CBS aired a repeat of CSI: NY). ABC still found a cause to celebrate its newest addition to the lineup: Happy Town boosted the time slot average versus the same night last year (when it aired The Unusuals) by 6 percent in total viewers and by 13 percent in adults 18-49. The drama also improved ABC’s averages in the time slot (which was previously filled by now-dead Eastwick and the final episodes of Ugly Betty) by 11 percent in total viewers and by 6 percent in adults 18-49.
In contrast, the news was great for ABC’s Modern Family, which ranked as Wednesday’s No. 1 scripted show among adults 18-49 (it averaged 9.8 million viewers). Overall, the American Idol-fueled Fox won the night in all the key demographics, including adults 18-49 and total viewers.