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'Nanny' gives birth in her final episode

Who says network executives are heartless? The top programmers at CBS did, at least, repay Fran Drescher for her six seasons of service as "The Nanny" by allowing her to "retire" at the end of this season.

Not that her statement was really fooling anyone. Particularly when it came only a matter of weeks after Drescher had been criss-crossing the country, stopping at all the CBS-owned stations to promote her series.On a visit to KUTV-Ch. 2 and Salt Lake City, Drescher maintained she had no intention of retiring anytime soon from the show that made her a star.

"As long as it's good and the network wants it, I'm going to do it," she said. "If it was one of the most successful TV shows, maybe it would run another five years. It seems like the most successful shows seem to go 11 years."

And, while she wasn't predicting another half-decade for "The Nanny," she certainly didn't seem to have another six months in mind, either.

"Let's say it lasts another two years or three years. I can hang on that long," Drescher said. "It's my baby. I'm happy to let it ride as long as it can go."

And that's as long as Wednesday, when the hourlong finale airs at 7 p.m. on Ch. 2. And, speaking of babies, there will be a couple of them as Drescher's character gives birth to twins.

Not that this is exactly the way this season was supposed to turn out. The producers and writers had a whole story arc leading up to the birth -- and most of those episodes never aired. Given the show's rapidly fading ratings, CBS decided to go with reruns of "Everybody Loves Raymond" instead and completely blew off the five installments of "The Nanny" leading up to this week's exit episode.

(In the opening moments of Wednesday's show, there's a brief sequence of clips from those missing episodes -- which included Maggie (Nicholle Tom) getting married, the first-ever on-camera appearance of Fran's father, Morty (Steve Lawrence), Maxwell (Charles Shaughnessy) talking Fran into moving to California and Niles (Daniel Davis) proposing to C.C. (Lauren Lane). She turns him down, but the two of them later end up in bed together.

Getting the five episodes yanked isn't exactly the sort of respect Drescher and her team would have liked to see from the network. (Those five "missing" episodes might air this summer, but there are no firm plans for that yet.)

From a numbers standpoint, it's hard to argue with CBS's decision. "Raymond" in reruns did better than "The Nanny" originals.

And "The Nanny's" numbers have declined dramatically. At its peak during the 1995-96 season, the show was averaging 17.9 million viewers a week. This season, those numbers are down by more than half, to an average of 8.7 million viewers this season.

Wednesday's episode is cute and occasionally funny. There's nothing really new -- which helps explain how the show lost so many viewers over the years.

But it's a nice send-off for a show that's never going to go down in TV history as one of the great ones. But it was good for some laughs over the years, which is more than you can say about a lot of shows.