Last night, ABC aired the conclusion of season five of The Mole. Graphic designer Craig Slike was uncovered as the covert player and history teacher Mark Lambrecht took $420,000 home. It’s been an interesting season but it’s likely going to be the last, at least for awhile.
The Mole began as a Belgian series and become so popular that the concept was licensed in 40 countries, the US included. ABC’s version began running in 2001 and ran for two seasons as a “regular” edition. That was followed up by two celebrity editions. The last episode aired in February 2004. The producers tried to find another outlet for the series but were unsuccessful.
In January, with a writers strike looming, ABC gave a greenlight to resurrect the reality competition. Many fans of the original run were excited by the news but, for whatever reason, few tuned in for the premiere. The fifth season debuted on June 2nd to 4.73 million viewers, over a third less than tuned in to see season four’s debut. The following week, fewer than four million watched the second episode. The ratings fell further in subsequent weeks.
The show’s producers started a campaign to try to “Save the Mole” midway through the season’s run. They set up a website, SavetheMole.com, and asked fans to help increase viewership in any way that they could — by emailing friends, posting to message boards, and by creating videos and uploading them to YouTube. Unfortunately, the efforts didn’t seem to have any effect on the ratings.
In mid-July, president of ABC Entertainment, Steve McPherson, said that he liked the show and even praised the producer’s extra efforts. McPherson was a little confused as to why The Mole hadn’t performed better. He said, “It’s an incredibly well-produced show. I think they did a fabulous job. I think, if anything, I look at the marketing. Maybe we made a misstep there and should have focused a little bit more on just selling it as a completely new show. I think we overestimated the kind of return value of it. So I think there were a number of people I know who were new viewers who couldn’t get into it… It’s hard to know. I love the passion of the producers. I love them starting the website. Those are the kind of people you want to be in business with.” As nice as that sounds, McPherson also conceded that if the ratings didn’t improve, The Mole would be cancelled.
In the following weeks, viewership dropped to a bit over three million. Last night’s finale attracted about 2.97 million, close to two million less than watched the premiere.
Given the show’s ratings for the season, it looks certain that the show won’t be back anytime soon. Still, The Mole has already been resurrected once. Who says that ABC or some other outlet won’t try again at some point in the future? Stay tuned!