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The Globe and Mail

It's the Jersey Shore season finale, but is anyone still watching?

Even the most amusing TV personalities eventually wear out their welcome. Arrivederci, Snooki.

Tonight's fourth-season finale of Jersey Shore (MTV, 10 p.m.) could be the beginning of the end for the once-beloved guidos and guidettes. The public fascination with Snooki, the Situation, Pauly D, JWoww, et al., has waned drastically in recent months. Sure, they've already filmed a fifth season, but does anybody really care about these people any more?

The general consensus that Jersey Shore has jumped the shark is confirmed by a check of recent U.S. ratings.

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When Jersey Shore returned two months ago it drew nearly nine million U.S. viewers – the highest rating in the show's history. By last week, that number was down to 6.5 million viewers, which does not bode well for the franchise's future.

The ratings slide is particularly notable since this past season was filmed in Florence, Italy, which should have had more people watching just for the breathtaking scenery.

And there was some promise with the premise of the Italian-American cast returning to the motherland, but the potential was never realized. Instead, Jersey Shore has been finally exposed for what it really is – train-wreck TV.

When it launched in 2009, the MTV reality experiment playing off stereotypes of hot-blooded New Jersey youth was raw, real and slickly edited. The show was a hit and immediate cast standouts Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino did their part with constant public appearances. Rarely a day went by without a Snooki sighting reported on TMZ or some other website.

And Jersey Shore stayed fascinating television for a while. Thrown together into a beach house in Seaside Heights, the characters made the most of the experience, and for all the clubbing and canoodling, they were actually pretty endearing. Sammi and Ronnie got together and broke up, more than once; the Situation and Vinny schemed to pick up women; Snooki got tipsy and fell down. Good times, you bet.

More tellingly, Jersey Shore introduced new lexicon into public use. Even people who didn't watch weekly knew what GTL (gym, tan, laundry) stood for.

Jersey Shore's second season was filmed in Miami and it was even better. Remember when the Situation hooked up with that Canadian model?

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But the show's producers made a fatal mistake when they decided to send the cast to Italy. Removed from their American habitat, they were fish out of water and nowhere near as interesting. Viewers watched the stereotypes turn into caricatures, one episode at a time.

Right from the first episode, not one of them showed any interest whatsoever in learning about Italy or its culture. They might as well have filmed the season in Lethbridge, Alta.

It's almost impossible to identify a single highlight from the past season. Let's see: Ronnie and Sammi got back together, again; Ronnie and the Situation had a fight, with the latter leaving the house on a stretcher; Snooki got into a fender-bender and was arrested, briefly; Snooki broke up with her boyfriend and went wandering the streets of Florence, alone (except for the camera crew). Oh, and Snooki slept with Vinny.

Which is more or less where the current season leaves off, with fewer people watching. In tonight's closer, the cast is shown leaving Italy and heading home.

But not before some final drama. The requisite cliffhanger finds most of the cast railing openly against the Situation, who haughtily threatens that he won't be around for the next season of Jersey Shore.

He won't be the only one.

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Conspiracy Rising (CBC's Doc Zone, 9 p.m.) is a fine new documentary and required viewing for anyone who believes our government is controlling us through bar codes and flu shots. Written and directed by Andrew Blicq, the film takes a hard look at how conspiracy theories are created and why so many people readily buy into them. The truth is out there.

Check local listings.

John Doyle will return.

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