Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Science Fiction "Jumping the Shark"

Sometimes I am so far behind on pop culture that I feel like I am doing constant catch up just to understand what is going on and or oblique references that leave me in the dark. One such term that I am hearing more and more these days is "Jumping the Shark". According to the Wiki it's origins are from an episode of Happy Days in which Henry "The fonz" Winkler performs a stunt where on water skis he jumps over a caged shark. Pop culture critics have taken this and turned the act and thus the description into describing a certain event in a shows "life". The act of the Fonz jumping the shark was views as watershed turning point in the program Happy Days. It has since come to mean when a show incorporates as the Wiki puts it:
  • denote(s) that point in a TV show or movie series' history where the plot veers off into absurd story lines or out-of-the-ordinary characterizations, undergoing too many changes to retain the original appeal of the series. Shows that have "jumped the shark" are typically deemed to have passed their peak as after this point critical fans can point to a noticeable decline in the show's overall quality.
In Happy Days it was litterally Jumping The Shark which is odd because the premise was the Fonz was facinated with his hero Evel Knievel and far from being a turning point, the show continued to do very well for the next few seasons.

So what am I babbling about? Maybe I never fully realized a "shark" moment due mostly to the fact that with the majority of the shows I watch in the science fiction realm often use odd plot devices, strange plot twists and so on. I don't consider these as harbringers of the programs ultimate demise...just a fact of life in Science Fiction. That being said, I can think of a couple of shark jumping moments in science fiction or science fictionish shows.

  • Mork & Mindy: The big egg. and the addition of Johnathan Winters.
  • SG-1: The depature of Don Davis, addition of Claudia Black who get pregnant & Ben Bower
I am sure there are a huge amount of examples. Either moments that are clearly jumping the shark for the show or maybe tongue in cheek references in the story line. What have you got?

<- Wiki Jumping the Shark ->


wolfkahn said...

Two for you:

The original Battlestar Gallactica becoming Galactica 1980. Once they added Doctor Zee, the arrogant, twelve year old "genius" who was probably the first series character that was almost universally loathed by the core fans, the show was over. It never had enough of a pre-teen fanbase to support it. (And the show had many other problems!).

The Batman movie series jumped the shark when Joel Schumacher took over as director. Once codpieces and costume nipples became an issue the series was no longer Batman. It was a freakshow that drove away fans in droves.

Paul said...

In the original BSG I was going to say the addition of Baltar, but that is probably simplistic. but Zee, yep, was not a fan