modern family ty burrell julie bowen 320 'Modern Family,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Castle,' get early pickups; so do 3 other showsABC has given the early green light to six shows for the 2011-12 season. Wednesday comedies “The Middle,” “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town” will all be back next season, as will three dramas: “Castle,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.”

The network’s head of entertainment, Paul Lee, made the announcement Monday (Jan. 10) during ABC’s time at the TV critics winter press tour.

“Who would have predicted this time last year that ‘The Middle’ … would now kick off what I think is one of the best nights of comedy on television?” Lee says. “That’s a core part of our schedule.”

“Modern Family” is a top-20 show in viewers so far this season (12.4 million viewers) and is the top-rated comedy on television in the adults 18-49 demographic, where it averages a 4.9 rating. “Cougar Town” is in the top 30 in the 18-49 demo (3.5), while “The Middle” has grown significantly in its second year.

“Grey’s Anatomy” is the top scripted show on TV this season in adults 18-49 (5.0) and ranks 16th overall with just under 13 million viewers per week. “Castle” (10.6 million viewers, 2.7 in adults 18-49) and “Private Practice” (9.1 million, 3.5) have also performed solidly.

A couple notable absences from the early-pickup list are “Desperate Housewives,” which outdraws “Grey’s” in viewers, and the other Wednesday comedy, “Better With You.” Lee says ABC has “ambitions to pick it up” for next season but hasn’t hammered out the details yet. “Better With You,” meanwhile, will have to wait and see like the rest of the network’s shows.

Posted by:Rick Porter