Victor French's final TV series. It has often been written that Michael Landon decided to end the series after French died of lung cancer. In fact, it had already been agreed in June 1988 that the series would end because of falling ratings.
In a scene in the first season episode, Hotel Of Dreams, Jonathan (Landon) criticizes Mark (Victor French) for smoking, warning him that he smoked all his life and died of lung cancer. Michael Landon was himself a heavy, up to 80-a-day, chain smoker (mostly unfiltered menthol cigarettes) and would die from advanced pancreatic cancer just seven years later at the age of just 54, within a few months of diagnosis. Victor French was also a life long heavy smoker and would die from lung cancer (also just a couple of months after diagnosis) and also at the age of 54 in 1989.
Although it was initially a big success and very important to a struggling NBC, by 1988 falling ratings led to the decision to cancel the series after the upcoming 5th season. Suspecting that if he shot a full 24 episode season, many would end up on the shelf unbroadcast, Michael Landon made a truncated fifth season of just 13 episodes. Landon's suspicions were proved correct when NBC refused to give the series a regular time slot and instead announced it would be used only as a last-minute replacement show to fill gaps in the schedule. As a result, the series was broadcast sporadically over 12 months with the final episode (clearly originally intended for Christmas 1988) not shown until August 1989. Landon's anger at NBC's treatment of the show led directly to the ending of his thirty year relationship with the broadcaster.