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54874.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:06 pm Reply with quote

Q: Has this show jumped the shark yet, do you think?

'Jumping the shark' is a term used in the US to denote the moment when a successful TV series goes off the rails and into terminal decline. The phrase was popularized by Jon Hein on his website, and refers to an episode of Happy Days in which the Fonz is shown jumping over a shark on waterskis, wearing his leather jacket. (There's another nice expression, 'circling the drain', which is applied to shows and other businesses which are about to go down the plughole, but it doesn't mean quite the same thing. After you jump the shark, then you're circling the drain).

Here are some of the moments which have been identified as shark jumps:

- long before the term was coined, the 22 Dec 1963 episode of Bonanza had Hoss Cartwright meeting a leprechaun, although no-one believed him when he told them;

- Bobby Ewing turning up alive in the shower after he had been dead for an entire series of Dallas (all of which turned out to have been a dream that his wife Pam had been having). (A side effect of this was that the spinoff Knot's Landing ceased to exist in the same universe as Dallas, because in Knot's Landing Bobby was still dead).

- the Moldavian wedding shoot-out in Dynasty (qv)

- the replacement of the actor who played Samantha's husband in Bewitched

- those two arses who did one season of The Dukes of Hazzard

- Boy George guesting on The A-Team

The idea is that everybody in the country should realise simultaneously that the show isn't worth watching any more. Typical symptoms are said to include: having a character unexpectedly come out as gay, inappropriate guest stars, bringing in a famous guest director, introducing an identical long-lost cousin, resolution of a long-running sexual frisson, and having Alan Alda in the show.

The phrase is frequently referenced in TV shows; eg the X-Files had an episode called "Jump the Shark" in its last series, in which they killed off the Lone Gunmen. It's also used in media other than TV (Sinead O'Connor ripping up a picture of the Pope, The Dixie Chicks criticising the War on Terror, Pete Doherty at Live8).

Although the producers of Happy Days admit that they knew they were in trouble when they shot the shark scene, the show actually ran for 100 more episodes after that one.

The phrase "jumping the couch" has recently been coined to describe a celebrity who starts behaving bizarrely, alluding to an appearance by Tom Cruise on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in which he jumped on a couch while enthusing about Katie Holmes.

Some terms, such as "crashed into the fried chicken stand" (also based on a Happy Days moment) and "growing the beard" (Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation) have been coined as an opposite to jumping the shark, when a TV series shows a noticeable increase in quality or begins to take hold in popular culture and becomes a hit.

54885.  Thu Feb 23, 2006 12:24 pm Reply with quote

Q: "Do you think the show is growing the beard or has it jumped the shark?"

the show actually ran for 100 more episodes after that one.
Blimey. That would get us all the way to L...

58603.  Fri Mar 10, 2006 6:32 am Reply with quote

Not to do with shark-jumping, but grizzly posted this on the outer board:

The moon did in fact start its life in a much closer orbit to the Earth but has continually and gradually moved away from the Earth (at a rate of 3.5cm/year). We are rather uniquely living in a period of time when total eclipses occur to expose the carona of the Sun. In the future only partial eclipses will take place and I assume the Moon will eventually fly off into space.

Don't know if this is true, but it suggests some such question as:

Q: What would happen if aliens stole the Moon?

to which the answer, according to the New Scientist, seems to be:

a devastating chain of events which would ultimately spell the end of life on Earth. The most immediate difference would be the disappearance of the tides. The next omen of doom would be wild swings in the Earth's rotational axis from a position of almost perpendicular to the ecliptic plane all the way to being practically parallel to it. These swings would provoke drastic climate changes: Earthlings would spend six months of the year sweltering under the unending blaze of the sun, only to spin round and shiver for the next six months on the dark side.
(Question asked by Steve Nairn in the New Scientist, replied to by Andrew Turpin. Collected in Does Anything Eat Wasps? ed Mick O'Hare, Profile Books and The New Scientist)

So if those quotes are both right we should be partying harder while we still can, as far as I can see.

58660.  Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:17 am Reply with quote

Nice idea.

It is extraordinary that the life we have on this planet is completely dominated by the cycles of the moon. It utterly governs the mating behaviour of just about everything (especially in the sea), providing a useful 'synchronising clock' somewhere in between the yearly seasonal period and the daily solar period.

Without it, everything would be rather different.

58690.  Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:30 am Reply with quote

Is the Moon moving away from the Earth?

Yes it is, but very slowly. The current rate at which the Earth day is increasing is 0.0018 seconds/century. The semi-major axis of the lunar orbit is increasing by 3.8 centimeters/year according to laser ranging measurements made since the 1970's using the Apollo 'corner cube reflectors' deposited on the surface by the astronauts.

It is expected that in 15 billion years, the orbit will stabilize at 1.6 times its present size, and the Earth day will be 55 days long equal to the time it will take the Moon to orbit the Earth. Of course, in less than 7 billion years, the Sun will have evolved into a red giant star and engulfed the Earth-Moon system, thereby incinerating it!

This site, drawn to our attention by Davini994 in the outer board, is intended for children but seems to be responsible. Chris, do we need to double-check or does this sound safe to you?

58750.  Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:12 pm Reply with quote

I had a chat some years ago with the bloke that fires the lasers at those corner cubes (yes, there's a Department of Shooting The Moon at Southampton), and it's definitely getting further away.

Whether those figures are accurate is anyone's guess, considering the number of different variables that are used to calculate the current moon's orbit (over 100!). I'd take it as read - at least no-one will be able to say it's wrong...

Ian Dunn
535942.  Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:13 pm Reply with quote

Jumping the shark has come up again more recently. A new expression has been coined, "Nuking the fridge", which is the same thing but applied tp films. It comes from a scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where Indiana hides in a lead-lined fridge to escape a nuclear blast and survives.

Wikipedia article on "Nuking the fridge"

536038.  Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:11 pm Reply with quote

I wonder what the Red Dwarf equivalent is...

PS: NASA are still "shooting their cubes" and concur.

Ian Dunn
536102.  Wed Apr 15, 2009 1:40 am Reply with quote

"Typing the script"?

"Blading the Runner"?

"Nicking the plot from The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse"?

536295.  Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:14 am Reply with quote

- the replacement of the actor who played Samantha's husband in Bewitched
My wife has a copy of a programme guide to Bewitched and in there it states that the second actor to play Darrin Stevens (Dick Sargent) was the original first choice, but Dick York managed to muscle in. Apparently by putting his arm around Elizabeth Montgomery and saying something along the lines of "Don't we just look great together." That must have been a brave thing to do since she was married to William Asher, the producer of the show.


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