I'll have to admit that I didn't think Disney (NYSE:DIS) could do it. When the company's board announced that it was hoping to name a successor to CEO Michael Eisner by June, and with COO and ABC chieftain Bob Iger as its lone internal candidate, I figured the company's next CEO would come from the outside. Would Iger have a shot if ABC was still in the ratings basement? There was no way that ABC could fix itself in a single season.

I was wrong. Like so many others these days, I'm watching ABC again -- even when it isn't Monday night and I have a fantasy football game on the line! The stranded Lost islanders have grown on me on Wednesdays. On Sunday, I caught last week's highest-rated show, Desperate Housewives, and was pleasantly surprised by the Boston Legal follow-up.

Nielsen Media Research had ABC lagging just Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) CBS last week, with four of the 10 most-watched shows. More importantly, it claimed the top prize in drawing the highly coveted 18-to-49-year-old audience. Last year, it wound up fourth in that category behind General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC and Fox (NYSE:FOX).

Granted, the television programming season is more of a marathon than a sprint. Some of the heavy hitters on Fox, like The Simpsons and The OC, are still weeks away from kicking off their new seasons, and last week's presidential debate did preempt the strong Thursday lineup at rivals NBC and CBS.

However, you get the feeling that something special is brewing at ABC. It wouldn't surprise me to see Marcia Cross, Teri Hatcher -- and yes, even William Shatner -- land Emmy nominations under ABC's new hit drama banner.

The last time that ABC mattered, Regis Philbin was asking all the right questions four nights a week, yet we knew it wouldn't last. This time ABC is answering all the right questions. It's a much better place to be.

Have you checked out any of ABC's new dramas? Do you like the network's direction? All this and more in the Disney discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is bummed that ABC's quality lineup is eating into his online productivity, but he'll forgive that for now. He owns shares in Disney and Viacom.