Man Who Wrote the "Jump the Shark" Episode Defends His Work

"Jump the shark" is slang term that refers to the moment when an entertainment franchise starts to go downhill. It specifically refers to an episode of the TV show Happy Days in which Fonzie jumped over a shark tank on waterskis. Now Fred Fox, Jr., the author of that screenplay, has come out in defense of that episode:

All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not "Happy Days'" time. Consider: It was the 91st episode and the fifth season. If this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons and shoot an additional 164 episodes? Why did we rank among the Top 25 in five of those six seasons?

That's why, when I first heard the phrase and found out what it meant, I was incredulous. Then my incredulity turned into amazement. I started thinking about the thousands of television shows that had been on the air since the medium began. And out of all of those, the "Happy Days" episode in which Fonzie jumps over a shark is the one to be singled out? This made no sense.

Link via blastr | Image: Paramount

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It's because that episode was so ridiculous. He's skiing while wearing a leather jacket, and jumping over a shark. It's just completely absurd, as well as a rehash of the episode where he jumped over the garbage cans.
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Happy Days was pretty dire from the get go, so a downward spiral wasn't really possible. In that respect he's right, it wasn't the start of a downward spiral.

However he seems to miss the point. He witters on about popularity and longevity as if either were some sort of measure of quality. Yeah that's right all popular shows are quality TV. All popular shows are good. Actually popularity seems to be a really good way of identifying a poor TV show.
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I don't think he got it. The jump the shark episode was the point whare the show's writers started running out of decent ideas.
If he takes exception to the Happy Days link, perhaps he could refer to the Marcel the Monkey arrives episode of Friends. Same problem.
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