is endingafter next season
according to Alec Baldwin. "I will tell you one thing,"he recently told a reporter
And that is our show next year is our last year of the show... Our contracts are expired [in 2012], and Tina is gonna have a big careerdirecting films and writing. She's going to be the next Elaine May. She'll begreat.
So far, there's been no official response from either Tina Feyor NBC, though Deadlinesays that "sources close to the situation called Baldwin's comments 'totalnonsense.'" (And in her new memoir, Bossypants ,Fey does joke that viewers will have to wait until season nine to finally "seemore of Pete and the writers.")
But even if the next season jumpedthe shark in season five of HappyDays .30 Rock 's sixth is its last, would that be such a bad thing? Most shows can't maintain a consistently high level of quality past the six-yearmark. Would we rather watch 30 Rock go out on a high note, or risk seeing it dodder off into sitcom senility? Remember,TV fans: Fonzie
The Mary Tyler Moore Show wasone series that managed to squeak out an extra round of laughs: The landmark working-girl-in-the-citysitcom made seven seasons some classic episodes into its final cycle before it had the good sense to grabthat tissue box and take the long way to Tipperary.packing
In an informal Slate office straw poll, the one other sitcom that people defended past the sixthseason was Seinfeld . Seasons seven andeight (out of nine total) includesuch classic bits as the Soup Nazi, man-hands, yada yada yada , and Bizarro Jerry. But opinions about season eightwere decidedly mixed: One late- Seinfeld detractor called it "terrible," noting that the "signature Seinfeld humorobservations of idiosyncrasies, odd coincidences,instantly quotable phrases and nomenclatures is hard to find" in season eightand "almost nowhere" in nine. Another staffer liked that the show got "reallypunchy and wacko" in its twilight seasons.
So readers, help us out: Are thereany scripted, non-animated sitcoms that stayed goodnot just tolerable, notjust comfortingly familiar, but actually good into their seventh seasons? Or should we all breathe a sigh of relief if Baldwin'soff-the-cuff comments turn out to be prophetic?
Photograph of Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin courtesy of Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.