''7th Heaven'' has run far longer than anyone would have expected, replenishing its cast several times along the way. But now it's time to go. Here's the official announcement:
The WB Network and Spelling Television announced today that 7TH HEAVEN, the longest-running family drama in television history, will conclude its historic 10-year run on The WB at the end of this season.
The debut of 7TH HEAVEN launched The WB's first-ever Monday night broadcast on August 26, 1996, at 8:00 p.m. Remarkably, the series has remained in that timeslot ever since, holding its own against the 92 other series that have aired against it over the past 10 seasons. Recently the series celebrated its milestone 200th episode.
"We're announcing this decision now to ensure a monumental send-off for this series which has become one of the most important shows in the network's history," said David Janollari, President of Entertainment for The WB. "Brenda Hampton has already begun work on scripts for the second half of the season. These episodes will be filled with emotion and life-changing events. We owe a compelling and unforgettable final season to the Camden family and to the millions of viewers who helped grow this program into a huge hit. The WB is eternally grateful to Spelling Television, the producers, cast and crew of the little show that could -- and did."
"7TH HEAVEN is as dear to my heart as any series I have ever produced," said Aaron Spelling, legendary executive producer of the series. "Not many shows make it to 10 years and it's even rarer for a series to go out on top after 10 seasons. That result is a huge testament to Brenda Hampton, who created the series, and the phenomenal cast who have made the Camdens America's number one family for a record-breaking decade. I thank all of them and The WB for putting on a family show when it wasn't very cool to do so and then sticking with it in the same time slot for the entire run of the show. When 7TH HEAVEN launched on this new, little network in 1996, we had no inkling that we would one day make history, but we did and for that I am grateful and very, very proud."
"Although we had anticipated this could be the last season, it was difficult breaking the news to the cast and crew," said Brenda Hampton. "At this point, we're all very much a family. However, just like the Camden kids, I think we've all grown up and it's simply time to leave home. We choose to feel happy and blessed to have been part of this series, and we are very grateful to all our fans."
"7TH HEAVEN has been a gift," said Stephen Collins. "Going to work on something every day that means so much to so many people is pure joy. Working with Aaron Spelling, Brenda Hampton and The WB, plus making a bit of TV history while watching our wonderful cast grow up in real time, has been the experience of a lifetime."
(end WB announcement)
The audience for ''7th Heaven'' is about 5.1 million viewers this year, well below its peak. While it was long the most popular show on the network, it has been eclipsed by the likes of ''Gilmore Girls'' and ''Smallville.'' People also thought of it as a family show -- a notion The WB embraced, but one I'd qualify as ''a really bizarre family show with staggeringly inconsistent values'' -- and The WB has been trying to position itself as a more adult-skewing network.
When people look back at ''7th Heaven'' in a few years, they'll see a show that was in essence The WB's ''JAG'' -- not especially hip, not likely to draw kudos from critics, but something that still had a loyal, week-in/week-out audience regardless of what else the network was doing. ''JAG'' was crucial to CBS as it made the transition to the network it now is; ''7th Heaven'' was important to The WB as it tried to get established.