Tuesday, January 18, 2005

TV Tuesday

Week 40: Jumping the Shark

As TV fans, we hear it all the time--"This show has jumped the shark"

For those of you who might not be aware, there is a web site called JumptheShark.com. The site attempts to find the exact moment when a TV show goes from being really good to being not as good. The Jump the Shark refers to the infamous Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumped over a shark on water skis. After that, it was all downhill for the show. (If you head over to the Jump the Shark web site, you can see a huge database of shows and the moment when fans feel they made the fateful jump.)

Right now, fans are debating if a couple of shows aren't becoming Shark bait. So, this week, we'll take a look at just when good shows go wrong.

1. What is the worst Jump the Shark moment for a show that you've faithfully watched? Did you continue to watch after the show took the jump or did you give up in disgust?

A couple I can think of: Babylon 5 jumped when they introduced Byron and the telepathic hippies in the final season, which killed the momentum they'd built up to for four seasons. M*A*S*H, sadly, jumped the shark when Radar left. The best years of that show, in my opinion, were when you could look in the credits and see Mike Farrell and Larry Linville at the same time. Mad About You jumped when baby Mabel was born (does anyone remember what "MABEL" stood for?). E.R. jumped the shark when Mark (Anthony Edwards) died. In all cases, I continued watching the rest of the series, I believe.

2. Is there a show that you're currently watching that you think has Jumped the Shark? Any show that currently is putting on a life vest and strapping on water skis?

Heh. 24 is hacking into terrorist databases to download waterskiiing tips (unfortunate, but not really unexpected after 3+ years mining what was really a 1 season concept).

3. Is there a show that has never taken the jump?

ALF! Ok, seriously, I guess the series that I watched that remained fairly consistently good (or improved) from the beginning to the end would be Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

4. Is there a show that got close to jumping but then came back?

The X-Files got about as close to jumping as you can get when David Duchovny lost interest and left, but they were able to craft some decent stories with Dogget (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish) joining Scully (Gillian Anderson).

5. What elements do you think most contribute to a show making the jump?

1) Pressure from different sides to get two characters together, finally, after dancing around each other for years. 2) Too many years of original actors leaving and new actors joining. 3) Changing direction to try and attract the new popular demographic. There are other reasons, too...

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