It's Official: Jump the Shark Has Jumped the Shark


fonzie

Jump Street...
When Fonzie ski-jumped a shark it was a mortal blow from which ABC's Happy Days never really recovered. Jon Hein immortalized Fonzie's stunt with jumptheshark.com, a ragtag, irreverent and refreshing interactive TV chat site that changed the culture.

As Hein, originally explained it, there is sometimes a defining moment in a TV series that is a decisive turning point. It is a moment at which quality shifts inexorably to terminal mediocrity.

This change is often showcased by some bizarre out-of-character event, like a tough guy from the backstreets of Milwaukee jumping over a shark on water-skis, wearing a leather jacket.

That was the moment that Happy Days, literally and figuratively, jumped the shark.

Jumptheshark.com became a vibrant, user-driven website where people shared ideas and opinions about the rise-to-fall moment of TV shows from Desperate Housewives all the way back to I Love Lucy.

(Was Miami Vice ever the same after they blew up the 1973 Midnight Black Ferrari Daytona Spyder?)

Sold to TV Guide
But in 2006, the site was sold to Gemstar's TV Guide. The site's beloved dishelved look was replaced with a gussied-up version, peppered with ads for the very TV series being trashed in the chat.

No longer a true feedback channel to Hollywood, Jon Hein's magnificent creation was suddenly in the belly of the beast. But the worst, however, was yet to come.

Jumptheshark.com just takes you to tvguide.com/jumptheshark now -- a superslick corporate website with an ArmorAll sheen, authored by professionals, with all the punch and edginess of the fawning zap2it.com. Oh, you can still post comments to the articles, but it's just not the same.

Now that jump the shark has been pretty much flushed, what new phrase can capture our imagination?

Nuke the fridge just didn't have any traction, did it?