THE SHOW "Jersey Shore"
WHEN | WHERE Thursday at 10 p.m. on MTV
WHAT IT'S ABOUT The sixth and final season begins with about half the house on the wagon. "The Situation" is out of rehab, claims he's solidly on track for a new life without alcohol or pills. He seems nice, agreeable, and even sets about making the first meal. His housemates are understandably suspicious. JWoww says, "Now that he's clean, hopefully there will be no drama," adding a little less charitably: "I'm not going to trust him for a very long time."
Drama instead is supplied by Deena, with new boyfriend Chris, and Ronnie and Sammi, still together, and still fighting. Vinnie and Pauly D look on, amused and appalled. As for Snooki, she's six months pregnant, off the booze and soon off on her own (she is ready to leave the house by the end of this episode). "I'm just gonna make it my own summer," she says. (Her baby arrived after taping of this season ended.)
MY SAY There had to come a point while editing season 6 when even MTV finally said "enough" -- no more blood out of this profitable stone. My guess is that sober (right word) realization occurred a few minutes into the bizarrely titled second episode, "No Shame, Good Integrity." While at Karma, the scene of many crimes against good taste and quality on TV, a drunken Ronnie is seen once again abusing Sammi, while Deena is weeping uncontrollably off in some corner. The camera then finds Snooki and her fiance, Jionni. "You want to wait here for your friends?" he asks. Snooki is incredulous -- my word, not hers. "MY FRIENDS?" she bleats. An unguarded comment says it all.
There are no friends here, just business partners, and their five-season-old venture is kaput. They can't fake this anymore, and they don't want to, either. They're done, tired, weary, bored and maybe even a little ashamed. The hangover has begun and like all bad hangovers, the memories of the night before -- five seasons in this case -- are not all happy ones. As such, these first two hours feel like amends, mostly for what they've done to themselves. As "The Situation" puts it, the sky is actually blue again, and he'd forgotten what the color even looked like.
BOTTOM LINE The party's over, the hangover's begun, and the final summer looks like it's gonna be a long and wet one.
GRADE (for fans) C-