Joe Gets a Ratings Jolt


Monday's fourth episode, in which faux-millionaire Evan Marriott booted man-hungry Melissa M., notched nearly 21 million viewers -- an all-time-high for the series.

It set a record for Fox and beat CBS' usually dominant comedy Everybody Loves Raymond.

The big numbers set up the two remaining episodes of the surprise-hit reality series -- one for Evan to make his final choice of a new love and another to tell her the truth about his real financial situation.

Marriott, going by the name of "Evan Wallace" in the series, is really a construction worker earning $19,000 a year -- but the women who've participated in the show think he's a regular Joe who's inherited $50 million.

Evan has winnowed the original 20 women down to two young ladies: Sarah, the blonde who's appeared in a series of bondage videos, and Zora, the dark-haired "mysterious" substitute teacher.

Fox officials are tight-lipped about how the final two "very intense, emotional" episodes will unfold -- perhaps because they are still editing the show's last hours.

The Feb. 17 finale will be a two-hour episode.

The next two shows will also feature a reunion of all 20 original contestants, recaps of what's happened over the course of the show, and a "coming clean" segment, officials say.