Goodbye, Wisteria Lane. Adios, Princeton-Plainsboro Hospital.
So long, Susan Mayer, Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp and Gabrielle Solis. See you in reruns, Drs. Gregory House, James Wilson, Robert Chase and Eric Foreman. It’s been fun.
Two iconic series will close up shop this spring.
After eight seasons and 176 episodes, “Desperate Housewives” wraps up May 13 on ABC. “House,” which debuted a month later on Fox, ends its run May 21 with 173 episodes to its credit.
Eight seasons is an impressive run for a prime-time series, and both were success stories from the start.
“Desperate Housewives” drew 21.6 million viewers for its premiere and built to more than 30 million, finishing its first season as the No. 1 network series. “House” averaged a solid 13 million viewers for its first season but grew to a Top 10 hit in Seasons 2-4. At its peak, in 2007, almost 20 million viewers were tuning in every week.
Both shows, though, pressed their luck, staying on too long and scrambling for new stories to tell and twists to keep those stories fresh. In the end, by the time the networks announced the final seasons, a lot of fans had drifted away.
One of the pleasures of series television is the chance to get to know characters and follow them over years. Networks, of course, love a long-running show that can bring in viewers reliably and win its time slot week after week.
The catch: when to let go. When “Lost” wanted to set an end date, ABC agreed only reluctantly, but the decision was the right one. So was the decision to end “Desperate Housewives,” but it came too late. “The only thing harder than creating a hit show is knowing when to end it,” creator Marc Cherry told TV critics last summer after ABC confirmed that Season 8 would be the last.
For the finale, some former regulars will return, including James Denton, who recently was killed off as Mike Delfino.
“House” was never as ambitious a series as “Desperate Housewives.” It was conceived as a procedural, a “CSI” clone set in a hospital where doctors tackled mysterious cases.
On “House,” the casting of Hugh Laurie as cranky, crippled Dr. House, endlessly irritated by patients and staff and everything but the cerebral medical mysteries he enjoyed, took the series to a different level. Laurie was so great — perfect, in fact — in the role that for years, just watching him was enough to make an enjoyable hour.