Hopes were dashed for a happy welcome to the schedule for ABC’s new drama Happy Town, which premiered last night. Nor was there mercy in the new time slot for NBC’s bubble freshman Mercy, which was tried out in the 9 PM hour. The Twin Peaks-esque Happy Town drew a 1.7 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 and 5.2 million viewers overall at 10 PM, slipping 16% from the first to the second half-hour, barely edging out a repeat of CBS’ CSI: NY (1.6/5, 7.7 million) in the demo and finishing last in total viewers (NBC’s Law & Order: SVU was tops with a 2.9/8 in 18-49 and 9.4 million viewers).  This was ABC’s lowest-rated series premiere of the season, down 43% from the fall debut of Eastwick in the same time slot. It was much better news for ABC from 8:30-10 PM, with its three new comedies, The Middle (2.4/7), Modern Family (4.1/11) and Cougar Town (2.8/7) posting gains from their most recent originals two weeks ago.

Fox’s American Idol result show (6.5/17) at 9 PM, packed with star music performances and the shocking elimination of Siobhan Magnus, was up from last week by 10% and ranked as the top program of the night. NBC’s medical drama Mercy (1.4/4) posted a 17% gain from the series low it posted in its regular 8 PM slot last week but still finished distant fourth in the 9 PM hour, behind CBS’ Criminal Minds rerun. Besides The Middle, only the CW’s America’s Next Top Model aired an original in the 8-9 PM hour and, not surprisingly, won the slot in adults 18-34.