Saturday, July 15, 2006

Unclear On The Concept

Jeffrey Lord in The American Spectator writes that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame have jumped the shark. Maybe they have, maybe they haven't, but I do know that Lord doesn't quite understand the phrase.

It was popularized (not invented) by my friend Jon Hein, who runs the Jump The Shark website. He just sold it to Gemstar for a nice chunk of change, by the way.

Back to Lord. He goes to the trouble of explaining the phrase, which is a mistake:

One of the stars of the longtime hit TV series Happy Days, Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzerelli, played by Henry Winkler, is made to do something by the show's writers that was clearly designed to save the fading series from sinking ratings.

The something? The Fonz, on water skis, was forced to literally jump a shark. The episode not only failed to save the once popular series that also starred future director Ron Howard, "jumping the shark" became a Hollywood metaphor for the point at which a once believable premise became a caricature.

Not quite, Jeff.

A show "jumps the shark" when it has peaked (subjectively speaking), and you know it will be downhill from here on in.

Lord is a bit off in describing the phrase, but he's way off when it comes to Happy Days. In fact, the show was still at the height of its popularity when they shot this episode. As creator Gary Marshall has noted (somewhat defensively--I don't think he gets the phrase either), they went on to make another hundred episodes after this one.


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