After seven seasons of award-winning, oval office drama, NBC is saying goodbye to The West Wing.
The final episode will be broadcast on May 14, 2006 and will be preceded by a one-hour retrospective episode. The series has long been trailing in the Nielson ratings so the cancellation isn’t much of a surprise. Still, for those of us who remember (and still watch) the episodes from the show’s early glory days, it will be sad to see President Bartlet, his political cronies and adversaries leave office.
The current election storyline (pitting TV veterans Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda against one another) will be wrapped up and the series will fittingly show the end of the Bartlett administration.
NBC executives have said that the decision to cancel the show was made before the death of series regular John Spencer and that it did not influence their choice. The Emmy-winning actor played chief of staff and later vice presidential candidate Leo McGarry. Spencer died unexpectedly of a heart attack December 16, 2005. The Los Angeles Times has reported that his character will pass away as a result of a similar condition in the episode to air April 2nd.
“[Executive producer John Wells has] walked us through everything that’s happening [in the final episodes],” NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said. “And I don’t use the word extraordinary lightly, [but] I just think it’s truly incredible and will include, again, a great send-off to John Spencer.”
The series is featured daily on the NBC-Universal-owned Bravo cable channel and continues to be offered on DVD. The sixth season of the show will be released on May 9, 2006 to coincide with the series finale.