It appears that just as with Temptation Island 2, a second trip back to the Joe Millionaire well might have been one trip too many for both FOX and the Rocket Science production company that produced both series. According to the initial overnight ratings, the premiere of the network's much-hyped The Next Joe Millionaire series struggled mightily, drawing only a 5.2/ 7 rating/share and fewer than seven million viewers.

Mediaweek's Marc Berman notes that Joe 2's ratings dud was 34 percent below the season premiere of Boston Public on the year ago night (7.9/11 on Oct. 21, 2002 -- the start of a trend that this season saw the program be shuffled off to die in a Friday evening timeslot) and 32 percent behind its reality competition, NBC's Fear Factor (which finished second behind CBS's Monday night comedies in it's timeslot and drew a 7.7/11.) "We're disappointed," Gail Berman, Fox entertainment president told the Associated Press. "I wish I knew what happened last night." And if that weren't bad enough news for FOX, the 9PM premiere of its equally hyped Skin series dipped even lower to a 4.5/ 6. So much for that much speculated "baseball afterglow" the network was expected to receive for its fall schedule.

Unless The Next Joe Millionaire builds significant momentum going forward, the program's pathetic ratings performance could be doubly damaging to FOX's November sweeps period, as the network had already cancelled its original Fall plans for a second edition of American Juniors in favor of additional Joe 2 episodes that will begin airing on Tuesday evenings for the next four weeks.

The network's apparent struggles with its Joe Millionaire sequel are eerily similar to its experience with its original smash hit Temptation Island reality program, to the point that we can't help but wonder of FOX executives are coping with a bit of a deja-vu feeling today. Like the original Joe Millionaire series, 2001's Temptation Island was produced by Rocket Science Laboratories. Like the original Joe Millionaire series, Temptation Island premiered in January. As with Joe Millionaire, Temptation Island was a smash hit, drawing over sixteen million viewers in its premiere. Like the original Joe series, FOX struggled to exploit additional mileage out of what was originally planned to only be a six episode run. And as with Temptation Island 2, FOX's sequel plans included nearly doubling the number of episodes in the second edition (to twelve episodes for TI2 and ten episodes for Joe 2.) As with Joe 2, Temptation Island 2 premiered just as November sweeps period was starting the following fall. And as with Joe 2, the Temptation Island sequel struggled during its premiere... on it's way to a fifth place finale finish in mid February 2002 after being pulled from the FOX schedule for three weeks.

Hopefully The Next Joe Millionaire will fare better. Then again, maybe it doesn't matter... after all, it took a couple of years, but eventually Rocket Science scored another hit with Joe Millionaire and FOX decided to roll the dice and unleash Temptation Island 3 on to the world. Of course, we all also know how that turned out.