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It garnered critical acclaim and solid ratings during its initial six months on the air, but it wasn’t until after the first-season finale that series creator Greg Berlanti knew “Everwood” had made it.

While dining in a restaurant with some “Everwood” writers, Berlanti was taken aback when a waitress — a fan of the show — had no intention of serving them until they divulged some clues to the season-ending cliffhanger.

“More than anything, she wanted to know if Colin survived Dr. Brown’s surgery,” Berlanti recalls, “and we didn’t eat until we told her.”

It’s this kind of viewer loyalty that makes “Everwood” one of the quiet gems of television. A fave of both advertisers and critics, “Everwood” consistently delivers a sizable aud — and one that’s both broad and upscale.

The story about a New York neurosurgeon who relocates with his two children to a small Colorado town after their mother dies has delivered the best ratings for any show to air behind vet “7th Heaven,” averaging 4.3 million viewers this season, and was nominated in 2003 by the Television Critics Assn. as outstanding new program of the year.

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Berlanti, who cut his teeth on the net’s “Dawson’s Creek,” set out to create a father-son drama — and thought a small town would be the ideal locale to explore such a relationship.

“I was a big fan of ‘Northern Exposure’ and ‘Picket Fences’ and wanted to create a place that you could only visit through your TV set,” he says.

“A beach town (North Carolina setting for ‘Dawson’s’) worked really well on the WB, so we came up with ‘Everwood,’ which is almost another character.”

Berlanti says the WB has always been supportive, giving a special nod to former Frog topper Jordan Levin.

“They’ve been very encouraging from the start, letting me do a family show in as contemporary way as possible,” he says of the net. “It’s such a personal show and there’s a shorthand I have with them.

“I kind of grew up with the network.”