In every great TV series down through the years, there comes a point where something happens completely out of the norm and completely not keeping in character with the shows previous tone. It may happen to fall within a period of decline in the shows fortunes or spark the beginning of the rot.
Either way, the term ‘jumping the shark‘ was coined from Happy Days – which starred Henry Winkler as the Fonz. In an episode called “Hollywood, Part Three of Three – 1977” Fonz was being pulled by a motorboat on water ski’s and did an ‘Evil Kenevil’ style jump over a shark. It just happen to fall in line with a general marked decrease in the quality of the show, which was cancelled (but did manage another 7 years!). Fans of the Fonz though do point to a marked decrease in episode quality following this point, including cast and situation changes
So the term can be employed to describe any show about to or having already gone down hill – which is marked by a surreal moment, not in keeping with the previous tone.
It was whilst I was at work today and discussing with a colleague about how much I loved ‘Duke’s Of Hazzard’ – as a kid. I commented that I thought I remembered one particular bizarre episode when the good ol’ boys found an alien of the space variety and drove it round and round trying to avoid Government Men In Black and Roscoe before getting the little spacedude back to his mothership.
Of course, no doubt I thought imagined this, I mean ‘Dukes’ was about good ole Southern activities running moonshine, springing their cuz from the clink and wrecking lots of police cars and Boss Hogg’s day. So how does an Alien fit into all this? Well it doesn’t unless it was a shameless attempt to cash in on the success of ET – and that would have made sense but it was three years too late!
A quick check of the Wiki shows the episode was called ‘Strange Visitor’ episode 15, season 7 – 1985. That would be the same 1985 which marked the last season of the show. So I can only imagine they were having some fun with it, after 6 years of same or similar stories.
I mean this Alien was one ugly dude, all pink and gilly, pretty freaky for a 6 year old kid for teatime TV. Infact, I think I have seen Pinkeye before, in Classic Doctor Who episode ‘Full Circle‘ starring 4th Doc Tom Baker – he must be a distant cousin!
So in terms of a ‘jump the shark’ moment in a TV series, this comes pretty close to one of the alltime craziest…… period!