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    Heaven Goes to Better Place, Takes Bells with It

    So much for the afterlife.

    For the second time in as many years, a network has terminated the Camden family, with the CW announcing that 7th Heaven will not return for another season.

    And this time, there's little chance of a reprieve.

    The non-false alarm series finale will air May 13 on the fledgling net, signaling the end of 12 years of saccharine family values in prime time.

    Around the same time last year the series seemed fated to a similar demise, when the WB announced, in the final days of its existence, that 7th Heaven would wrap when the network did.

    The finale came and went, loose ends were inevitably tied up and the TV family bid adieu, bursting with anticipation over the next generation of Camdens.

    And then, just a few days later, the CW announced that it had opted to pick up the series after all, ordering 13 more episodes. The baker's dozen soon turned into a full season, which turned into the final season.

    While the CW has given no formal reason for the nixing, it's likely network programmers came to the same conclusions their WB forbears did: Sometimes, being good just doesn't pay.

    The series, which premiered on Aug. 26, 1996 and helped launch the careers of Jessica Biel, Barry Watson, Ashlee Simpson and Haylie Duff, was unquestionably the WB's most popular show, averaging 5.2 million viewers per week, but it was also the costliest.

    Enter the CW, with similar cost consciousness coupled with fewer viewers—the audience for 7th Heaven this season has dropped to just 3.4 million sets of eyes per week—and that means the end of the road for the Camden clan, led by the good Reverend Eric Camden (Stephen Collins).

    The cancellation will not only mark the passing of television's reigning longest running family drama, but also of the last remaining prime-time series produced by late TV titan Aaron Spelling.

    While 7th Heaven may be the sentimental favorite among this season's soon-to-be departed shows, it will have plenty of company in the great beyond.

    So far this week, NBC has deep-sixed  The Black Donnellys, Fox called off The Wedding Bells and ABC cut ties with Six Degrees.

    The Black Donnellys had been slated to run just 13 episodes on the Peacock net, though apparently, even that was too much. The show will instead wrap up on Apr. 16 after only eight outings.

    David E. Kelly's Wedding Bells, meanwhile, has already halted production and will likely air just once more this week. The show had already been taken off the schedule for next week, preempted by Fox's screening of White Chicks, and it's unlikely the network will bring back the clunker after that with the approach of May sweeps.

    As for Six Degrees, you can't say the network didn't try. The show featured a star pedigree (prime-time wunderkind J.J. Abrams as executive producer) and had a primo time slot (post-Grey's Anatomy), but viewers didn't seem to care. The series aired its final episode Friday.

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