Believe it or not, Wizards Of Waverly Place is coming to an end. What’s that? You didn’t know Wizards Of Waverly Place existed or that the genetically gifted Selena Gomez had any role in life prior to being the girl Justin Bieber kisses on the beach sometimes? Get ready to have your mind blown, then.
In fact, Wizards has been on for over 100 episodes, only the third Disney show to actually reach that milestone. (The others are That’s So Raven and Phineas And Ferb) It’s actually the longest running Disney Channel original series, something that’s kind of surprising considering it’s only been on four years, but, hey, young actors age fast. They can’t keep those baby faces forever.
Wizards also holds the record for largest one-time audience for a Disney show (6.2 million viewers in 2010 for “Wizards Vs. Werewolves”) and its movie, the creatively named Wizards Of Waverly Place: The Movie, was Disney’s second most-viewed film premiere ever, coming in just after cultural juggernaut High School Musical 2.
The show also airs in 66 countries around the world—sixty-fuckin’-six countries. That’s a lot. It’s cool to be obsessed with Community and all, but ol’ Joel McHale is nowhere near as famous as Selena Gomez is. Hell, the whole Community cast isn’t that famous combined, including Chevy Chase.
At 19, though, it’s probably time for Selena Gomez to move on. She can’t keep playing the crass, lazy maybe-wizard-to-be Alex. There’s presumably only so much laugh track one person can take, even if that person is starring on a Disney Channel show. Like Miley Cyrus, Gomez has gotten bigger than the show. She’s got her own line of eco-friendly clothing and her perfume should hit stores sometime this year. She’s also starred in movies like Monte Carlo—and not been terrible, for what it’s worth—and committed to Spring Breakers, a Harmony Korine directed movie co-starring Emma Roberts, Vanessa Hudgens, and—gulp—James Franco that begins filming sometime early this year.
Wizards comes to its likely end as Alex finally performs a selfless act: making spaghetti for her family for dinner without expecting to gain anything for herself. It’s not much, but apparently that propels the Russo kids—finally—into the family wizard challenge. Confused? Here’s what I’ve gleaned from two episodes of the show: Mr. Russo, the dad on the show, is a wizard. Typically, when they have kids, all of them become sort of wizards until they come of age, at which point they have to compete to become a real, adult wizard. The kids who lose the competition revert back to having no powers.
Full discretion: The Disney screener of the series finale I watched ended several minutes before the end, supposedly to preserve the integrity of the surprise for viewers at home tonight. If I had to guess, though, I’d say that all three Russo kids become wizards, bursting from the Stone Labryinth at the same point. The idiot younger son Max probably doesn’t deserve wizard-hood and he’ll presumably set someone’s hair on fire with a spell gone awry, but it’s really the only way a Disney show could end and keep everyone happy.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, though: For a Disney show, Wizards Of Waverly Place really isn’t bad. It’s hokey, sure. The spells the kids use sound jokey at best (“Higgly wiggly, get out of a jiggly”) and the supposedly treacherous griffin that endangers the gang for a good portion of the episode is a laughably bad computer animation. The elder wizards wear costumes that look like Halloween Kmart purchases and, yeah, there’s a really bad laugh track.
That being said, Wizards is pretty damn watchable. Watching the screener, I was incredibly pissed when it ended early and I didn’t get that final answer as to who was the last wizard standing. There were some pretty decent jokes in the show about griffin barf and Alex’s British werewolf boyfriend, Mason, is actually kind of adorable in that Tom Sturridge sort of way. I can see myself being into this show as a nine to 14 year old just as much as I can see being okay with potential future kids watching this on DVD or the 3-D holographic brain transmitters we’re sure to have in 15-odd years. It’s not The Adventures Of Pete And Pete, but it’s also not total kiddie dreck, and that makes a big difference.