They're still going to be there for us. After months of talk that this was absolutely, positively the last season, "Friends" announced this week that it is going to grace us with its presence for a 10th year.
What used to be a theme song is starting to sound like a threat.
As a business decision, it makes sense. "Good Morning, Miami" is nobody's idea of "must-see" TV, and NBC's Thursday night parade of actors - from Jonathan Silverman to Breckin Meyer - has become a revolving door to nowhere, at least nowhere funny.
But creatively, where is there left to go? Are Phoebe and Joey going to start casting longing glances at each other? If the show hangs on a few more years, perhaps Ross and son Ben could double date and be dumped by women together.
"Friends" has already brought a new baby on board - the traditional signal that writers are tired and it's time for the credits to roll. Speaking of which, have Niles and Daphne had a baby yet? "Friends" is hardly the only hit show not to know when to make a graceful exit. The temptation to wring out a few more laughs - and ad dollars - is understandable. And it's tough for viewers to say good-bye to beloved characters, even when they've outstayed their welcome. This makes Jerry Seinfeld look even more like a visionary, with his uncompromising (and apparently, never to be duplicated) decision to go out on top.
It's a rare sitcom that actually leaves them laughing. But let's help those poor writers out. How do you want the series to end? Submit ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 10.