Jump, Sharky Boy, Jump!

Posted on August 2, 2012

I mentioned a while back that we’re in the process of moving our Sven props , costumes, and set pieces to a different storage area, and that it might infringe on my blogging a few times- well, here be one of those times. My apologies, but, I’m running late, and won’t be able to bring you a brand new blog at this point- so- I fished around for one that might be entertaining for you! Here’s a blog from back in September of 2010: “One of my old friends, Second City alum Eric Boardman (who’s been out in Los Angeles for years now- we miss you back here, Tall Guy!) sent me a copy of an article the other day- which was then reprinted a few days later in the newspaper. It all revolved around the now almost overused phrase “jumping the shark”. It is used to describe the moment when something started to spiral downhill- for example, one could say that former Chicago Mayor Bilandic “jumped the shark” when Chicago had its huge snowfall that his city forces couldn’t handle, which lead to the election of Jane Byrne. It’s usually used in terms of a TV series- like when cousin Oliver joined the “Brady Bunch”- or Barney Fife left Mayberry on “Andy Griffith”. The phrase originates with the episode of the popular series “Happy Days”- when the cast went to California, and Henry Winkler’s beloved “Fonzie” character had to face off against a local beach boy- by waterskiing and jumping over a penned-in shark. The article I mentioned was written by the guy who actually wrote the “Jump the Shark” episode of “Happy Days”-Fred Fox Jr. it would appear that Mr. Fox is pretty irked by the fact that the phrase denotes when something first started going downhill. The actual origin supposedly goes back to 1987, when some University of Michigan guys were having a few beers, got on the subject of classic TV shows (no, our boss Neal Sabin, the brains behind “Me-TV” was NOT there) and someone asked when his friends knew that their favorite shows were in decline- what was the exact moment? His pals responded with answers like “when Vicki came aboard the ‘Love Boat’ “or “when the Great Gazoo appeared on ‘Flintstones””- but the best answer came from a guy named Sean Connolly who said- “It was when Fonzie jumped the shark.” Everybody there agreed that it was indeed the perfect example. Shortly after, one of the guys who was present for the discussion- Jon Hein- started a website- jumptheshark.com – and listed 200 TV shows, asking visitors to point out those fateful moments when they knew a show would never be the same again. It all took off and the rest is history. Fox , naturally, is not happy about the history- he relates that the story arc about the “Happy Days” gang’s Hollywood trip, which culminated with the shark jump, was NOT the moment of decline. He whines- “if this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons?” He goes on to tout the huge ratings the episode got. Ahem- oh, Mr. Fox-ddidyou know the “Tony Orlando and Dawn “variety hour used to get huge ratings too. And “Saturday Night Live” continues to draw a lot of viewers, but has been in decline for decades. Yes, decades. Fox tells us he created a little piece of history-but says that, in the original story conference when they were batting around various ideas for the three-episode Hollywood trip, he honestly does not remember WHO threw out the suggestion that Fonzie should water-ski over a shark. He does remember that NOBODY in the room objected to the idea- which shows you where these guys’ minds were. The article ends with the story of Fox and his sister meeting a friend somewhere, and the sister mentioning to her friend that Fox had written the famed “jump the shark” episode…to which some 20-something eavesdropper replied “Awesome!” Fox claims this proves that the show he wrote still has its “bite”. Oh, something “bites”,all right…”

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