Sunday night was a night of a couple of key series enders for long-running shows. The West Wing went out respectfully, but without much fun… and fun is the key element that has been gone since creator Aaron Sorkin left ths show and wossisname from E.R. came on. The show has been more interesting this season than it was since Sorkin left, but I still miss what it was. (The promise of a new Sorkin series for the fall has me happy, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s bringing along West Wing vets Bradley Whitford and Timothy Busfield.)
Malcolm in the Middle left us with a hopeful picture of where our characters are heading. Alas, the big funny moment of the show wasn’t funny. The end tied up the series, but didn’t really celebrate the heights of its quality.
But of more conceptual interest is the series finale of Seventh Heaven, a drama which I think I watched one full episode of about a decade back. The WB decided they could no longer afford the show after this season, so the series was tied up, the finale publicized and aired.
But the WB merged with the UPN to form the CW (as of this fall), and they’ve decided they can’t afford not to have the series. So following the finale, the show will actually get at least one more season, which means that this finale is a fake. And that’s a category that I find interesting. A number of shows over the years have had finales (although generally not definitively announced as such) when it was clear that the numbers would not support them being renewed, only to see the network show them unexpected support and pick them up. So St. Eligius hospital (on St. Elsewhere) getting hit by a wrecking ball was not the end (and the real end a year later was far more memorable.) Thomas Magnum dying? Didn’t happen (and in that case the real ending was much lesser.) And in perhaps the most extreme case, the broad cop sitcom Sledge Hammer went into their presumed cancellation
by destroying the entire city where the show took place. Now, I really don’t remember what happened in the first episode of the next season… but hey, what a challenge to face as a writer!