Credit: The West Wing: NBC Universal Photo

[SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you don’t want information about key plot points in upcoming episodes of The West Wing.]

NBC’s announcement over the weekend that this season will be the last for The West Wing isn’t much of a surprise, given the show’s moribund ratings and the recent death of John Spencer. It’s a shame, since the Vinick-Santos presidential race has revived the show creatively. The one consolation is that the impending end of the series in May gives the writers some creative freedom in how they shape the end of the presidential campaign. Already, producers are talking about bringing Rob Lowe back for the finale, while Spencer’s death is being written into the show in a dramatic way. (SPOILER ALERT! Spencer’s character, vice-presidential candidate Leo McGarry, will die of a heart attack just five days before the election, in a two-part episode to air April 2.)

I think the writers should let the Republican Vinick (Alan Alda, above left) win the election. The West Wing scribes may be so used to writing for a liberal White House that they wouldn’t know how to switch parties, but now, they don’t have to worry about how they might write for a Vinick administration, so why not let him win? It would be more interesting. Besides, I thought he cleaned Santos’ (Jimmy Smits, above right) clock in November’s live debate episode.

Current president Martin Sheen (above center), who would have been out of a job next season anyway, tells People how he’d like the last episode to end. How would you like to see The West Wing wind down?

addCredit(“The West Wing: NBC Universal Photo”)