Jersey Shore Italy: TV Review

Jeff Daly/MTV/PictureGroup
The setting may have changed from Seaside Heights to Florence, but -- for better and for worse -- "Jersey Shore" remains every bit the same show that it ever was.

More drama: That was the rather improbable promise being made by Jersey Shore executive producer SallyAnn Salsano about season four of MTV's bombastic human fireworks display.

Given all the alcohol-fueled blow-outs, hook-ups, and all around fist pumping lunacy of Seasons 1 through 3, upping the ante on the most popular show in the network's history is no small feat. Sensing that leaving well enough alone may not be in the best interest of the franchise, Salsano came upon what seemed like inspired idea: relocating our favorite Guidos and Guidettes to Italy for a season.

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For better or for worse, however, you can take Snooki & Co. out of Jersey Shore, but you can't take the Jersey Shore out of them. And though the physical surroundings may have turned decidedly more picturesque, the mental picture remains decidedly the same.

In Florence, the smush search -- with all of its titillating and messy repercussions -- resumes right on cue.

"I want to find a nice traditional Italian girl," says Vinny, the only one of the cast who speaks Italian.

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Also on the prowl is "Single Ronnie," whose turgid, slow-motion break up with Sammi consumed so much airtime in Season 3. Deena makes an ambitious pledge to "make out with people," and Ronnie's ex declares there will be "no more tears for Sammi Sweatheart."

But by far the biggest development of the off-season is the news that Mike "The Situation" has secretly hooked up with Snooki three to four times. The problem? At least one of those occasions occurred while Snooks was in a committed relationship with her current love, Jionni.

Even stranger, Mike confides to Ronnie (and the camera crews and the viewing audience) that he's falling for her. Deena, meanwhile, singles out Pauly D for some potential smushing.

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Ensconced in their spacious new "castle," a big step up from the Seaside Heights digs, hair dryers are blown out, and shots are consumed. After the signature routines of a trip to the gym and the return of sexual tension between Ronnie and Sammi, the fall of darkness leads to a nightclub.

There, the language of spray tanned bodies helps bridge the culture gap. As Deena puts it, the season will feature "a lot of hand motions and a lot of shaking the butt."

While the season premiere was content in teasing the audience with some tongue licking between Deena and Pauly D, and a rather-desperate attempt by Mike to re-establish himself with Snooki, the teaser for upcoming episodes promises the kind of drama that Solsano has boasted of capturing in Italy: knockout blows, car crashes, arrests and more drunken hook-ups. In other words, welcome back to the Jersey Shore.