Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
So there ya go. In the spirit of co-operative blogging, once again feel free to add to this list in the comments section if anything springs to mind.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
:: Jump the Shark ::
A few nights ago, neither Christene nor I could sleep, and as often happens, we ended up lying in bed, talking about random stuff. And as often happens, that random stuff was mostly about one of our favourite things – TV. The conversation eventually turned into a Complete Guide to Popular Television Shows That Jumped The Shark. Honestly, we talked about it for at least an hour. This is why we work well together.
For the uninitiated, Jump the Shark – a term Christene and I use all the time, but we might be the only ones – is described as the following:
"...an idiom used to describe the moment of downturn for a previously successful enterprise. The phrase was originally used to denote the point in a television program's history where the plot spins off into absurd story lines or unlikely characterizations. These changes were often the result of efforts to revive interest in a show whose viewership has begun to decline."
The term originated from an episode of Happy Days, when – with writers fresh out of story ideas – had The Fonz jump over a shark on water skis. The episode was absolutely ridiculous, and marked the beginning of the show's downfall.
So now, with that out of the way, here's the list the two of us compiled from our own television-watching experience. Buckle up, it's a long one (That's what she said.)
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
A great show, but it actually has two Shark Jumping moments. The first is one found in more than just this show – the quick-aging process for a young cast member.
In the series' later years, little baby Nicky Banks suddenly morphs from an infant to a four-year-old between seasons. (The fact that Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian had another child so late in the series actually smacks of shark-jumping just on its own, when you think about it. Hello, New Cast Member – another trick to revive interest in a show.)
A similar tact was taken in the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains, where midway through the season, the youngest daughter, Chrissy Seaver, grew up about six years between seasons. And since we're talking about that show, the quick-aging-daughter wasn't, in fact, the show's Jump the Shark moment – we'll leave that to the time-tested method called, Introduction of a New Cast Member, one Leonardo DiCaprio, a poor orphaned, homeless kid.
Fresh Prince's second JTS moment, and this one is according to Christene: when they replaced Aunt Viv with Aunt Viv 2.0. (After the third season, actress Janet Hubert-Whitten was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid.)
The switch coincided with the arrival of Nicky, and the only reference to the character swap came in the Season 4 premiere, when Jazz says to Vivian, "You know, Mrs. Banks, ever since you had that baby, there's been something different about you."
Married... with Children:
I was never a fan of this show, and mostly just caught the late-night reruns, so this one is all Christene (even though she refused to write the following blurb herself. "Writer's block," she said. Pffft.)
In season 7 (the series inexplicably lasted 10 years) a new character, a boy named Seven, enters the show for a 12-episode run. According to IMDB Seven was "the young son of one of Peggy's relatives who is left with the family."
I don't know if he was meant to be a full-time character, but the fact that he lasted little more than half a season probably explains how much he sucked. Another website called Seven "the most annoying character ever to appear on Married... With Children." Considering that show was chock-full of annoying characters, this is saying something.
I'll admit, I watched this show for one season – the first one – and one season only. I was sort of expecting it to be an E.R.-type drama, and when I realized it was simply a soap opera designed to brainwash women into thinking it was T.V.'s greatest creation – the same way women think the Sex and the City movie is Oscar-worthy – well, that's when I stopped watching.
As for a Jump the Shark moment, well, take your pick: When a new lead actor started getting written off the show every week – the black guy, the gay guy, the blond chick – or maybe, and this is my choice, the JTS moment came when a fucking ghost showed up. Yeah, I'd say that's the one.
Sure, the show is long past its seasons 3-7 heyday, but this show is still one of the smartest on TV, and still has it's hilarious moments – it's actually gotten better the last couple years, after a lull – and because it is the longest-running, most successful, best show to ever grace a television screen, I am not prepared to say it has ever Jumped the Shark.
Like the aforementioned The Simpsons, Seinfeld never Jumped the Shark either – it was too good, and it called it quits before it could get bad. Some argue that the series finale, where the group is arrested for "doing nothing" and then all the old characters are trotted back out as character witnesses at the court case, was a Jump the Shark moment, but it was the last episode of the whole damn show, and if they want an excuse to bring back the old characters, you damn well let 'em. Not JTS for this show, either.
Another bad show I'll admit to watching for a season or two, before losing interest. This one's JTS moment likely came when they started killing off characters – was Marissa her name? You know, that skinny annoying bitch? – and replacing them with other random people. For a show that was a pretty big success early, it really took a shockingly quick nosedive before being cancelled altogether.
One of the worst shows ever to appear on primetime TV, you may remember this show as a key member of the TGIF lineup. The Jump the Shark moment? Let's go with either the first time the theme song was played, or maybe when the "Baby-hits-the-dad-with-the-frying-pan" gag became a recurring them. Or maybe the true JTS moment came when some idiot TV executive decided that sinking millions of dollars into a show about animatronic/puppet dinosaurs was a good idea.
I hated that show.
Step by Step:
Another TGIF staple that tried to be a modern-day Brady Bunch, its' Jump the Shark moment is sort of twofold.
One, Christene says, is when the character Cody – who, if you remember, lived in a van in the driveway – was written off the show because the actor, Sasha Mitchell, was in legal trouble for smacking his real-life wife around. He was written off the show as "going to Russia" for some unexplained reason.
Then, in an continuation of the same shark-jumping moment, Cody returned briefly to the show a few years later for one of the final episodes of the series. In that appearance, he announced that he'd just "been on a road trip, changed his name to Steve," and oh, mysteriously and unexplainably "come into some money." So he pays Patrick Duffy and Suzanna Somers a bunch of money for letting him live in their driveway all those years. Then he's gone again.
Another good TGIF show – I always liked this one when I was a kid – and when trying to think of its Jump the Shark Moment, Christene and I had trouble because, well, there were so many options: Steve Urkel's transformation machine (which turned him into ladies man Stefan Urquelle); Urkel moving in with the Winslows; the orphan boy 3J being inexplicably added to the cast....
There are so many options here, in fact, I'll just cut and paste the show's bio from IMDB and let you read for yourself. The whole thing reads like one big Jump the Shark moment:
"As the years went on, Urkel developed a special transformation chamber to allow himself to change into suave Stefan Urquelle, whom Laura fell for; it was a way for the nerd to finally win the object of his affection. Laura eventually got to appreciate Urkel's company, and eventually, fell in love with him. Carl was eventually promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, finally attaining the rank of captain. In later years, Urkel moved in with the Winslows when his parents abandoned him in moving to Russia (editor's note: What's with TV writers' infatuation with Russia? There are other "far away" places, you know...); and Carl and Harriet (long after their daughter, Judy, disappeared from the scene without explanation) adopted 3J, a local orphan who was friends with Richie."
(Interesting Family Matters' sidenote: Did you know that the actress who played daughter Judy – the one who disappeared with explanation from the show – grew up to be a drug-addicted porn star? She later appeared on Celebrity Rehab. Her list of credits on her IMDB profile takes a pretty stark, direct leap from "family shows" to hardcore porn titles. I find this hilarious.)
That 70's Show:
A classic example of a show that lasted one or two seasons too many, so this one's easy. The JTS moment came in the final couple seasons, when all the regular cast members left for greener pastures, and the show added an "Eric replacement" character named... well, I can't remember his name, but he sucked.
The Cosby Show:
This sums it up right here:
"At the start of season six Cosby believed that Keisha Knight Pulliam, as youngest daughter Rudy, had grown up too much to be considered "just cute" like she was when she started the series at age five. Cosby decided to bring in young Raven Symone, who was cast as the stepdaughter of Huxtable daughter, Denise. Symone was obviously trying too hard to be cute and came off more often as annoying. Two seasons later Erika Alexander joined the cast as Pam, who was taken in by the Huxtable family. With her came a slew of new characters to play her high school friends and before long the cast had swelled to over one dozen. With the arrival of Pam came the departure of ratings and Cosby decided to end the show at the end of the 1992 season, it's eighth."
[via Associated Content]
Saved by the Bell:
One answer: The Tori Paradox.
In the final season of the show, two main actresses, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen and Elizabeth Berkley – whose boobs would later go on to great things in Showgirls – refused to sign new contracts for the year. So tough-girl Tori was introduced, and episodes featuring her alternated with already-taped episodes featuring the other two. No mention of Tori was made in the non-Tori episodes, and likewise, the Thiessen/Showgirl episodes never mentioned Tori. She must've been home sick from school those days.
If you really think about it, there were probably a million Jump the Shark moments, but the easiest one is when they suddenly introduced those two stupid, shaggy-haired asshole twins to the equation.
For starters, they did the suddenly-age-four-years-in-one-offseason thing. And secondly, how many fucking characters did that show need? I mean, I know it's a full house, but c'mon – they had so many people living in that place, that when the twins came along, the show's producers suddenly had to have the Tanners discover that, "Hey, look – we have this giant, high-ceiling'd livable attic that's big enough for a family of four!" I wonder where that came from. I mean, did nobody ever go up there in the shows first six seasons?
(Also, how come Joey didn't get really pissed off when he had to move out of the basement so Jesse could have his stupid music studio down there? The man was 35 years old – you'd think he'd be a little more protective of his own space. Instead, I think he just moved upstairs next to all the stupid kids' rooms... not ideal.)
Boy Meets World:
Another staple of the TGIF lineup, this show starred Fred Savage's brother and that chick who played Topanga, who every teenage boy at the time thought was hot, even though she actually looked like fish.
This show Jumped the Shark when the group graduated from high school. To start with, Cory and Topanga got married and then most of the college episodes dealt with how they struggled to live on their own, but pulled through in the end because they love each other. Also, the series finale was ridiculous – it was the obligatory "somebody leaves town" ending (Cory and Topanga move to New York) but then, suddenly, Cory's older brother and also his best friend, Shawn, show up in the final scene and say, "Hey, we're coming too!"
And then they drive off up the road, as if all is well. Forget the fact that Cory and Topanga's apartment in NY probably isn't big enough for 4 adults – I mean, have to heard how expensive NY rent is? – it doesn't matter, all the friends are staying together. If the show continued as some kind of spin-off (Boy and Friends meet New York, perhaps) I'm sure Mr. Feenie would've somehow appeared as Cory's new bos, or something. I mean, Christ — the guy was his elementary teacher, elementary principal, high school teacher, high school principal, college professor and fucking neighbour.
And while we're tearing holes in the show (Which I actually did quite like as a kid, by the way) – does anyone else remember those episodes/seasons where Shaun lived with his tough-guy, mullet-wearing teacher for awhile? What the hell was that?
So, anyways, there's your recap. If you have any other shows in mind – and the corresponding shark-jumping moments – feel free to leave 'em in the comments.