Photo Credit: DISNEY CHANNEL/DEAN HENDLER
The Suite Life on Deck -- the show that proves “twin-spired” mayhem equals TV gold whether on land, on sea or on-air -- is finally pulling into port. The series finale, “Graduation on Deck,” airs May 6 at 8 p.m. ET on the Disney Channel.
The 163 combined episodes for The Suite Life on Deck and its original land-locked version, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, are the most-ever for a Disney TV series, and that record will stand for a while. Check out Suite stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse from 2005 and you’ll have a good sense of exactly how much time has passed. (Apparently, no one’s in the mood for "The Frat Life of Zack & Cody.")
Over at the show’s website, fans can commemorate the event by voting for favorite episodes, watching classic videos, and submitting shout-outs to the cast.
With so much history behind it, can anything really take the place of this legendary franchise? Well, Disney thinks so, and is wasting no time promoting a replacement show: ANT Farm. ANT's star, Chyna Parks (formerly China Anne McClain) -- a much-needed African American face in the Disney star corral -- plays a musical prodigy at a high-school program for gifted youngsters. Back at the port, Suite star Debby Ryan will soon move into the spotlight as lead actress in her own new show, Jessie.
But let’s give Suite Life its moment to shine. A short 411: The Suite Life of Zack & Cody started in 2005 as a story of two twins -- one studious and one athletic -- who live in a fancy Boston hotel, the Tipton, because their mother sings in the lounge. In the 2008 spinoff, The Suite Life on Deck, the kids and their friends live and attend school on a boat, the SS Tipton. What these kids had against houses we’ll never know. We certainly didn't find out during their Disney Channel movie The Suite Life Movie, which aired last March.
Team Sprouse’s costars included Brenda Song, Debby Ryan, Phill Lewis and a pre-HSM Ashley Tisdale. But special guest stars also jumped aboard, including Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Selena Gomez, Jordin Sparks, Kathie Lee Gifford, George Takei, Sean Kingston, and Dwight Howard.
Zack & Cody memorabilia may never occupy a room at the Smithsonian, and I'm not sure if kid shows are ever considered for TV Land beatification, but Suite memories will remain burned into the consciousness of a generation of children who grew up with Zack and Cody. And for that alone, the twins -- and the entire Suite Life travel agency -- deserve a proper send-off.