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'Jersey Shore': Down from last season

The cast of MTV's

The cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore," from left, Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, Ronnie Magro, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Jenni "JWoww" Farley, Angelina Pivarnick, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Paul " DJ Pauly D" Delvecchio and Vinny Guadagnino. Photo Credit: Ian Spanier Photography

The numbers for "Jersey Shore" are out, and they do not  lie (necessarily): The show is down. It was seen Thursday night by 7.6 million viewers, huge for any show except "Jersey Show."

Last season's launch, from Italia, scored 8.78 million drive-bys, many of whom were wondering what the heck all this business about a "situation" or "meatball" was. Viewers dropped from there, but not wildly, and the Italian adventure ended with 6.6 million viewers. 

Now come the inevitable questions about "shark jumping." And really -- why oh gawd help us, why do that many people watch this thing? While shark-jumping questions are viable,  they're not particularly urgent. This is still a very good number, and everyone knows "Shore" isn't the cultural phenom it was even last year.

Everyone also knows -- MTV better 'n anyone -- that shows like this have a relatively brief lifespan. It's been prepping for the inevitable day with two spin-offs: Pauly D's and Snooki / JWoww's. They're expected after the end of this season so as not to cannabalize the mother GTL ship. But spin-offs mean MTV is expecting the cast to splinter anyway. This is just a way to milk the old cow a few more ways.

So, sorry "Jersey Shore" haters, the "Shore" is here for a little while longer.

Above, the cast of MTV's "Jersey Shore," from left, Sammi "Sweetheart" Giancola, Ronnie Magro, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, Jenni "JWoww" Farley, Angelina Pivarnick, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino, Paul "DJ Pauly D" Delvecchio and Vinny Guadagnino.

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