Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jumping the Shark

Many people have heard this expression and don't know the meaning, so here's the Wikipedia blurb on a funny incident from the tv show Happy Days:

Jumping the shark is a metaphor for the tipping point at which a TV series passes its peak or introduces plot twists which are inconsistent with what has preceded them. Once a show has jumped the shark, the viewer senses a noticeable decline in quality or feels the show has undergone too many changes to retain its original charm. The term derives from an episode of Happy Days in which Fonzie jumped over a shark while on water skis.

Most shows do this with a big wedding, or a baby (Lucy, Dick van Dyke, All in the Family), or they burn down the neighborhood (Weeds), move elsewhere and change the characters - actually they were the first to move the show's locale.

This concept ranks up there with Roger Ebert's film cliches:
  • Fruit Cart -if there's a fruit cart in a movie, its inevitable that some speeding vehicle will crash into it
  • The Infallible Tree - whatever tree a hero climbs in a movie, some bad guy will stop and stand right under it so the hero can jump on him (Rambo, Robin Hood) that I would add
  • Homicidal Hanky Panky - if two teenagers are about to attempt hanky-panky, some homicidal maniac is waiting to send them to the hell in which they belong! I think horror films are the modern day wrath of God a la the old testament. That's it, they're modern biblical judgment.

Now, the Honeymooners never jumped the shark, they stayed in the same drabby apartment and never bothered with kids. The one time Ralph found a bunch of money, he had to give it back, after buying his mother-in-law a fur coat - "I had it, I went with it!"

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