Come fall, most shows will wake up from rerun coma. A few, however, will have slipped into the great beyond (sometimes known as syndication heaven). Picket Fences has already taken a bow; three more will follow in the next few weeks.
Hardcore fans of the low-rated weepfest Sisters will not be disappointed by its finale, in which the sisters’ prickly mom (Elizabeth Hoffman) dies and Frankie (Julianne Phillips) makes an emotion-filled return. But the real-life folks behind the six-year-old serial are surprisingly stoic. ”To go on longer would turn into a grind,” says executive producer Daniel Lipman. Any regrets? ”I’m going to sound really dirty-minded,” says actress Swoosie Kurtz, who played Alex, ”but it would have been fun to have delved into men and sex a little more. The sort of locker-room talk that women do.”
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s conclusion will find the Banks mansion up for sale as the family moves back East. Prospective buyers will include two stars of sitcoms past: Gary Coleman of Diff’rent Strokes and Sherman Hemsley of The Jeffersons. Will Smith needn’t worry about a similar has-been fate, however; the young star has a full-fledged film career, including the upcoming sure-to-be-a-blockbuster Independence Day.
Ditto a more seasoned pro, Angela Lansbury; the 70-year-old star of Murder, She Wrote is considering big-screen projects. But leaving her series will, no doubt, be bittersweet. Last year, when CBS moved Murder from its lively Sunday slot to its deadly Thursday home, Lansbury cried bloody murder, lashing out in the press against the youth-hungry network brass. Now that the show is officially dead, Lansbury is tight-lipped, refusing interviews. No matter. The last episode speaks volumes. Called ”Death by Demographics,” it concerns a murder at a radio station that’s trying to build its 18- to 40-year-old audience at the expense of longtime listeners.
Network bashing aside, the episode doesn’t try to sum up the show’s 12 years. ”That would be milking the audience,” says coexec producer David Shaw, Lansbury’s son. ”We’re leaving the future open to whatever happens.” Translation: CBS is planning several Murder, She Wrote TV movies.