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Why Last Night’s Ratings Could Be Key for ‘Mercy,’ ‘Hank’

NBC’s medical drama makes a solid case for its survival, but Kelsey Grammer’s new comedy is still shaky.

NBC seems likely to extend its prescription for "Mercy," while ABC can’t be happy with "Hank."

That’s the insta-analysis a reading of Wednesday night’s ratings offer.

The 8 p.m. hour was the most interesting for anyone trying to read tea leaves to discover just how the latest Nielsen numbers might impact scheduling decisions. NBC’s "Mercy," for example, may have just bought itself more time.

The show was up 11 percent from last week and notched a 2.0 rating. It improved at the half-hour, and it’s doing 25 percent better than NBC’s pathetic average in the timeslot last season.

Going into Wednesday’s broadcast, Peacock executives were already inclined to give "Mercy" as much time as possible. They like the strong female appeal of the show and think it could grow.

Now that it’s upticked a bit, don’t be surprised if the network orders a few more scripts (and maybe extra episodes.) A high-profile guest star wouldn’t hurt, either (we’re nominating Penny Marshall; she can do comedy and drama, and nobody has seen her on-camera in a while. Of, if NBC wants to go a different direction: New rookie Nurse LC from "The Hills"!)

Meanwhile, the 8 p.m. hour brought another nail in the coffin for ABC’s "Hank." It averaged a 1.6/6, which was flat from last week. The network could probably stick it out with this show through the November sweeps, but wouldn’t repeats of "Modern Family" (the show that’s making a strong bid to take on "30 Rock" next year at the Emmys) be a much better use of the real estate?

The other pivotal Nielsen performance Wednesday night might have been at 10 p.m, where ABC’s "Eastwick" slipped another 6 percent, to a 1.7/5. Perhaps the news division has something ready to fill this slot during sweeps?

For the record, Fox won in adults 18-49 Wednesday with its two-hour block of "So You Think You Can Glee." CBS won in viewers.