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ABC Revived the TV Comedy With Modern Family, But Does That Make It a Hit Network?

All this week we've been taking a long look at each network to see how they're faring this season now that the initial hype has faded and shows new and old have settled into their natural level. We've covered the struggling NBC and the steady CBS, so today let us turn our magnifying glass to ABC. At the forefront of the comedy renaissance, the network has capitalized on it with the solid newcomer Suburgatory, and while some new soapy dramas have paid off (Revenge), others have not (Charlie's Angels). Let's take a look at the Alphabet network, from A to Z.

What's working: The network can make a strong case that its Wednesday comedy block is now the funniest night on TV, as well as one of the most commercially successful. CBS may have bigger tune-in overall, and NBC may have more critical darlings, but Modern Family is the No. 1 comedy on TV (now that the post–Charlie Sheen buzz has worn off Two and a Half Men) and is showing double-digit growth versus last fall. The Middle is a solid success at 8 p.m., while Suburgatory has proven to be a great fit at 8:30 p.m. (and is one of the new season's freshman success stories). Happy Endings is having just as hard of a time holding on to MF's monster lead-in as the on-hiatus Cougar Town did, but Happy's critical buzz keeps growing in its second season. Also on Wednesday, Twitter darling Revenge has been able to build on its modest Happy lead-in and find itself competing with CSI for the 10 p.m. lead with adult viewers under 50.

What's next: We can't keep track of everything ABC has on the shelf, but the network has lots of faith that the soap-y GCB and the Lost-y The River will attract viewers in the New Year. The network will certainly get attention (though mostly the derisive kind) for its upcoming cross-dressing comedy Work It!, but who knows if that'll translate into viewers. The network is scheduled to expand its nascent Tuesday comedy block to four shows, with a possibly retitled Cougar Town and the promising Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23. And as frightful as the DWTS decline has been, the good news is, it gets to hit the reset button next March. Michele Bachmann should be free by next spring.

What's not: Like NBC, ABC has got some major tentpole issues. Desperate Housewives is not getting a boost from the announcement that this is its final season (it's down a whopping 29 percent this fall); Dancing With the Stars has plummeted nearly 25 percent; and Grey's Anatomy has nosedived more than 20 percent versus its fall 2010 season kickoff. And while the aforementioned fall freshmen have done well, their success has been offset by the total failure of Charlie's Angels (canceled) and the so-so (but stabilizing) numbers by Pan Am.

What's next: We can't keep track of everything ABC has on the shelf, but the network has lots of faith that the soap-y GCB and the Lost-y The River will attract viewers in the New Year. The network will certainly get attention (though mostly the derisive kind) for its upcoming cross-dressing comedy Work It!, but who knows if that'll translate into viewers. The network is scheduled to expand its nascent Tuesday comedy block to four shows, with a possibly retitled Cougar Town and the promising Don't Trust the Bitch in Apt. 23. And as frightful as the DWTS decline has been, the good news is, it gets to hit the reset button next March. Michele Bachmann should be free by next spring.