The end is (fairly) near for the delightful "Portlandia"


By Mike Hughes

PADADENA -- After
six-plus seasons and piles of praise, “Portlandia” is calling it
quits ... gradually.

Now early in its
seventh season, the show's creators confirmed Saturday that the
eighth will be its final one. They promplty offered solace for
hard-core fans.

“These things
never are finite,” said writer-director Jonathan Krisel, pointing
to other sketch shows (from “Kids in the Hall” to “Bob and
Dave”) that were revived.

Fred Armisen – who
co-stars with Carrie Brownstein – agreed: “After I left 'SNL'
('Saturday Night Live'), I think I've been back every year.”

Besides, Brownstein
said, in modern times comedy sketches never really seem to die.
“People are just discoverihg the show on Netflix and YouTube.”

Brownstein was a
rock musician who linked with Armisen (a part-time drummer) for what
she thought would be a music project. Instead, they created an
amiable satire of the sweet-spirited life in her adopted home town of
Portland, Oregon.

This has always been
a loving sort of satire, Krisel said. “It's very feel-good, with
lots of fun stuff.”

And praise has
followed. “Portlandia” has won Peabody and Writers Guild awards
and four Emmys. It's been nominated for 17 Emmys, including two in
the new category of best variety sketch series.

All of this is
crafted quickly – six weeks of writing and eight weeks of shooting
at Portland locations, to make a 10-episode season. Then the three
race off to other things.

Brownstein revived
her band, wrote a book and did two seasons on the “Transparent”
series. Krisel has simultaneously been a producer and writer on
“Baskets,” “Man Seeking Woman” and “The Kroll Show.”
(“Each show is small,” he said.)

Armisen has ranged
from guest spots to leading Seth Meyers' band; he's also a
producer-writer-star of “Documentary Now” ... which, like
“Portlandia,” was nominated for best variety sketch show.

“It's messy,
complete chaos,” Armisen said of his schedule. “I'll get an
e-mail that says, 'We told you a bout this!'

“I'll say, 'Oh
yeah, this.' Then I'll get on a plane and go somewhere.”

After next season,
that will involve fewer flights to Portland.

-- “Portlandia,”
10 p.m. ET Thursdays, IFC; rerunning at 1 a.m.

-- The season's
third episode airs Jan. 19; the second and third ones rerun at 8:15
and 8:45 a.m. an. 21 and at 4:45 and 5:15 a.m. Jan. 22.