Tube Talk: May the month for series finales

Every year, we have to say goodbye to some of our favorite shows, and not just for the summer. Some series will be gone for good. Most of them will be missed.

As I’m writing this, the networks have yet to unveil their official fall schedules at the upfronts—a series of events taking place in New York each May where the networks entice ad buyers with their fall line-ups—and the new CW has yet to confirm which UPN and WB shows have made the nascent network’s final cut. (Fingers crossed Veronica Mars survives to solve yet more multi-layered mysteries!) A few shows could still be canceled with no opportunity for a fitting finale.

Some shows getting proper send-offs include Alias, Will & Grace, Charmed, Malcolm in the Middle and The West Wing. Of those, I’ll miss Alias the most, but I’ve already been mourning the absence of Vaughn and Weiss this season (although, since this is Alias, I was pretty sure they’d be back).

I admit I was never a big Will & Grace fan. A lot of people will miss it. But will I? Not so much, but I’m glad the producers decided to end it before NBC axed it.

As always, some shows overstayed their welcome. That 70s Show would have been wise to fold last year with the departure of Topher Grace. It just wasn’t the same without Eric there to connect his friends and his family.

Months ago, it was announced this would be the 10th and final season of 7th Heaven, but lately there’ve been rumors that CW might resurrect 7th Heaven. It’s still just talk, but with such a lengthy buildup to the Camden’s TV farewell, another season might feel like a let-down. What more is left to tell?

Another long-running WB series, Charmed, is also coming to an end. Last year, producers were bracing for cancellation when it was renewed for an eighth season. This year, their luck ran out right along with the actresses’ contracts.

One of the funniest things I’ve heard concerning series finales came from Malcolm’s Jane Kaczmarek (Lois), who’s married to The West Wing’s Bradley Whitford (Josh). “Their final episode is opposite ours!” she told me during a recent interview, laughing at the irony.

In a weird twist of fate, The West Wing and Malcolm in the Middle finales are both slated for Sunday, May 14: The West Wing at 7 p.m. on NBC (preceded by a one-hour retrospective) and Malcolm from 7:30-8 p.m. on Fox. This scheduling conflict presents a problem for Kaczmarek and Whitford—two actors who opt to lead a more modest life than most celebrities. “We only have one TV in our house, so we’re trying to figure out which we watch and which we TiVo,” Kaczmarek said.

Rest assured, Jane, you can watch Malcolm and The West Wing, too. Bravo repeats the latest episodes of The West Wing Monday nights. So you, or anyone who misses it on Sunday, can catch the presidential finale Monday, May 15, at 7 p.m. on Bravo.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy Magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications including American Bungalow, SatelliteORBIT and TVGuide.

From the May 10-16, 2006, issue

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