Thursday, November 04, 2010

Shark Jumping

In a Sept. 3 Los Angeles Times article, Fred Fox Jr., the writer of the infamous Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumps over a netted section of ocean containing a shark and inspired the "jump the shark" meme, addresses his dubious claim to fame in pop culture history.

Was the "Hollywood 3" episode of Happy Days deserving of its fate?

No, it wasn't. All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not Happy Days time. Consider: It was the 91st episode and the fifth season. If this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons and shoot an additional 164 episodes? Why did we rank among the Top 25 in five of those six seasons?
I suppose that if you've heard of Wikipedia (or meme), you don't need anyone to explain what "jumping the shark" means, but according to Wikipedia:

[JTS] has become a colloquialism used by U.S. TV critics and fans to denote the point at which the characters or plot of a TV series veer into a ridiculous, out-of-the-ordinary storyline. Such a show is typically deemed to have passed its peak. Once a show has "jumped the shark" fans sense a noticeable decline in quality or feel the show has undergone too many changes to retain its original charm...
Interestingly, Wikipedia also describes a 1963 episode of Bonanza, "Hoss and the Leprechauns," in which Hoss meets a leprechaun. That episode coined the term "seeing the leprechaun" as a precursor to the "jumping the shark" phenomenon.

This led me to wonder if, perhaps out of sympathy for Mr. Fox, a new term to explain the dynamic could be adopted.

Full Post at Edward Copeland On Film...

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