Victor French's final television 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 season one, episode twelve, "Hotel of Dreams", Jonathan (Michael Landon) criticized 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 eighty-a-day, chain smoker (mostly unfiltered menthol cigarettes) and died from advanced pancreatic cancer just seven years later, at the age of fifty-four, within a few months of diagnosis. Victor French was also a life long heavy smoker and died from lung cancer (also just a couple of months after diagnosis) and also at the age of fifty-four 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 fifth season. Suspecting that if he shot a full twenty-four episode season, many would end up on the shelf unbroadcast, Michael Landon made a truncated fifth season of just thirteen episodes. Landon's suspicions were proven correct when NBC refused to give the series a regular timeslot, 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 twelve 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.