Tuesday, January 18, 2005

TV Tuesday

TV Tuesday

TV Tuesday, because I have to fill the blog with something more than these random thoughts that have no connecting thread....

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?

There are a couple of moments with The Andy Griffith Show. The first is when Barney left. What the hell is this Warren crap, huh? Huh? Huh? Yeah, it was the Andy Griffith Show, but Barney was its heart.

But I'll watch a black and white episode without Barney. However, under no circumstance will I watch a color episode of The Andy Griffith Show. There's just something wrong with an episode of Andy Griffith in color. I mean, there's a timeless quality to the Andy Griffith Show when seen in black and white. But when it's in color? I don't know. It dates everything....


Nobody could have helped it, but when Phil Hartman died, Newsradio lost a lot of its oomph. I like Jon Lovitz, but nobody could have replaced Phil Hartman in that show.

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?

I don't care much for West Wing, since Aaron Sorkin left. And it's not the small changes in political focus, or the darker tone of the show. It's the fact that none of the characters are as sharply defined as they were in the first couple or three seasons.

There was a time that you could read a few lines of dialog from a script to me, and based on who was saying what, I could tell you who's in the scene.

That focus is gone.

A friend of mine argues that maybe West Wing jumped even before that. He says that the show lost a lot of its appeal when Rob Lowe's Sam Seborn left, that more than any other character, he was the moral compass.

A second answer?

The Simpsons lost a little something for me when the effects of one episode had anything more than a superficial effect on other episodes. I liked that each episode of the Simpsons was a self-contained story taking place within its own universe, without fear of ramifications in the future.

And it's not even big things. But little things, like Maude Flanders dying, and staying dead...or Apu getting married and having the litter of kids. Those things are little more than a jumping board for somebody to tell a story later (we've had a couple of Flanders relationship episodes since).

It just seems like they're constricting themselves, somewhat. Setting boundaries, where none of the other episodes had boundaries. I don't think it's necessarily jumping the shark, but there is the smallest line of dermarcation.

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

Cheers was pretty consistent all the way through, in my book.

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

You know, when they introduced the kid (Seven) in Married With Children, and then had him vanish without a word of explanation, I always considered it a funny kind of joke. Like maybe somewhere in the Bundy household, there was a small child that had starved to death.

Well, maybe not that funny.

But I appreciated that the folks on Married With Children just ignored the little bastard like he'd never been. How many add-on characters are there that I wish that had happened to?


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

Time, mostly. Money, is another. Most characters have a finite story to be told. But if there are advertising dollars to be made, still, then we'll just create new circumstances. Sometimes, those circumstances just don't work.....


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