But it's remarkable that the show lasted as long as it did, said Hollywood screenwriter Graham Yost, whose late father Elwy Yost hosted the program for 25 years before retiring in 1999.
"I can understand people being upset that it's over, but really, in television, 38 years is unbelievable," Yost said Friday in an interview from Dublin.
"I don't think there's any recrimination or regret on my part anyway. It's a long run."
Ontario's publicly funded broadcaster TVO announced earlier this week that "Saturday Night" will be axed due to budget cuts.
Movie buffs, critics, bloggers and fans took to Twitter to lament the show's demise and more than 1,350 people have signed an online petition to save the long-running show.
Graham Yost, whose resume includes the hit film "Speed" and war-time TV series "Band of Brothers," said he gets the sense of loss felt by fans who hoped the show would last forever.
When it started in 1974, there were no VCRs or DVDs, and viewers relied on the show to see films that weren't in theatres.
Yost recalled that in his early teens, his father had him stay up late one night to watch "Citizen Kane" — his favourite movie — and wrote him a note when he arrived late at school the next day.
His father was slightly disappointed when the school principal didn't make a fuss about it, because he wanted to be able to say that film was as important as any other part of the curriculum.
Providing educational programming was the mandate of "Saturday Night." Yost conducted interviews with classic film stars and the directors, composers and screenwriters behind the camera that would run between two commercial-free films.
Years later, it still stood apart from ubiquitous entertainment shows that serve as the altars of celebrity worship.
The show is a "vital, enduring piece of Canadian cultural heritage, and a crucial part of cinema in this country," Doug Tilley of Peterborough wrote on the film blog Daily Grindhouse.
"It's sort of a one-stop film school for Canadians, and a place where the initial match of cinematic love was struck for a lot of people in this country," he wrote.
But movies that were once out of reach can now be easily found on DVD or viewed online on websites like Netflix. There are cable channels, such as Turner Classic Movies, that provide similar programming 24 hours a day.
There is a lot more information available for film buffs now than there was when "Saturday Night" first aired, said Yost, who is now working on the TV series "Justified" as its executive producer.
"My dad really embraced the idea of there being more information," Yost said. "He loved TCM. That was pretty much on all the waking hours the last few years of his life."
But his father knew that even with the best movie — be it "Citizen Kane" or "The Thief of Bagdad" — there comes a time when the credits roll, it says "The End" and the screen goes dark, he said.Suggest a correction