'Hannah Montana': The end of an era begins. Sniff.

hannah-montana-320.jpgWe know it seems like "Hannah Montana" has been around forever, but really it's only been four years and change since Miley Cyrus began her ascent of the pop-culture mountain.

But having already churned out 85 episodes before Sunday's (July 11) final-season-premiere -- plus a concert movie and a regular movie and ubiquitous Disney merchandising and Miley's own not-entirely-separate music career -- the show has wielded influence beyond what the typical sitcom, for kids or adults, manages to do in three seasons on the air.

"Hannah Montana" has always had an art-imitates-life (or maybe life-imitates-art) quality to it, as Miley's character (also named Miley) is a regular teenager by day and world-famous pop star by night. For a couple years there, it seemed like Miley Cyrus was basically just living her character's life in real life, with the show's success feeding her own career feeding even bigger things for the show.

And then, you know, she grew up. Regardless of whatever Miley Stewart will be doing in the series' final season, Miley Cyrus is now the 17-year-old star whose fashion choices and song lyrics are endlessly scrutinized (including, yes, here at Zap2it). The show has of course made some nods to Miley the character maturing too, but we doubt Hannah will be singing "Can't Be Tamed" anytime during the final season.

Whether any of that really matters to the Disney Channel's target audience of 9- to 14-year-olds is debatable. For adults, though, what we know about Miley Cyrus' real life causes a bit of a disconnect with what's being presented on screen.

For everybody concerned, this is probably the right time to go out. Miley can put the show behind her and go on to whatever adult career she wants to have, Disney can reap the rewards of hyping the show's final season (and has enough other shows and stars to fill any hole in its lineup) and the show's fans get to say goodbye.

What do you think? Is "Hannah Montana" ending at the right time, or has it overstayed its welcome?


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Photo credit: Disney Channel
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