Viewers were fuming and David Letterman was cracking wise about Fox promotions for "Joe Millionaire" that seemed to promise more than the show delivered.
Evan Marriott didn't make the final choice between would-be loves Sarah and Zora Monday night, although network hints seemed to indicate that he would. Instead, the episode was mostly a recap.
"We got duped. We totally got duped," viewer Cynthia Wiggin of San Carlos said Wednesday. She dismissed the episode as "Total filler. A whole filler night."
CBS' "Late Show" with Letterman showed a familiar video clip Tuesday of Osama bin Laden speaking in a cave — but this time, he supposedly was fuming about Fox.
"The treachery of the infidels has reached a new height," said a voiceover offering a mock translation. "We had been led to believe that last night would be the finale of 'Joe Millionaire.'"
Fox said it didn't intend to suggest Marriott was going to make his decision.
"The payoff was always going to be on Feb. 17," spokesman Scott Grogin said Tuesday. "It's possible we were a little over the top with our promos and we're sorry if people felt misled."
A chat board on Fox's official "Joe Millionaire" Web site was smoking with comments from angry fans.
"I really don't know if I am going to watch the last show or not," one person wrote. "At this point I am soooo mad I don't care who wins. Anyone else feel this way?"
"No, I will not watch the finale," read a subsequent posting. "Fox has lied to us, and I feel that they should be punished for that. ... Bad move, guys. It will be a while before I put my trust back into Fox."
Grogin said the network hopes any upset viewers would reconsider.
"We would hope that our audience will tune in. If they do they will not be disappointed," said Grogin, who promised that next Monday's two-hour finale would contain surprises.
Even the pros found Fox's approach misleading. The entertainment news magazine "Access Hollywood" had reported Monday that Marriott's decision would be revealed that night.
"It just shows how low it can go," said "Access Hollywood" executive producer Rob Silverstein. "I thought it was pretty blatant and I think it upset quite a number of people. It upset us."
In return, Silverstein said, the newsmagazine's Pat O'Brien "ripped 'em twice" in reports Tuesday.
"Joe Millionaire" itself is built on a lie. The women vying for Marriott's affections think he's worth $50 million when, according to Fox, he's really making $19,000 a year as a construction worker.
"I think that when people get involved in these unscripted shows these days, they know they're in for a ride," Gail Berman, Fox's entertainment president, said last month in defending the concept.