Writer and blogger Andrew Mocete shares a passion for a few of my favorite television shows, and when he accepted my invitation to do a guest post for my Tele-Tuesday series, I knew he would strike gold. Enjoy!
When TV Makes a Wrong Turn
Remember Happy Days? Richie Cunningham, Potsie, Ralph Malph and The Fonz? It was a show full of laughs that got better every season.
Then Fonzie jumped over a shark on water skis.
Yes, you read right. The coolest guy in all the land, slipped on something dangerously close to a speedo and water skied over a shark. The show was never the same. This was the birth of Jump the Shark, a phrase coined by Jon Hein, to describe the moment a TV show becomes less than what it once was. It doesn’t always mean the show is unwatchable, but has reached its peak and will never be that good again. Here’s a couple of examples.
Alias– Very few pilot episodes are flawless, but the series opener of Alias blows me away every time I watch it. Jennifer Garner plays secret agent Sydney Bristow who thinks she’s working for a black ops division of the CIA called SD-6. When she learns she’s been working for the enemy, she becomes a double agent for the real CIA.
First thing she finds out? Her dad, Jack Bristow (also an agent of SD-6), is ALSO a double agent! You’d think that might help their strained relationship, but no, it makes things worse. Maybe it had to do with the snuggly, wuggly feelings developing between Sydney and her CIA handler, Michael Vaughn. Maybe Jack was still grumpy his wife turned out to be a Russian spy whose mission was to seduce him and steal American secrets for her country. WHAT?! And that’s just the tip of the drama iceberg.
In addition there was a great series arcing storyline involving the race to find artifacts from Nostradamus like prophet, Milo Rambaldi. Whoever had the most, had the power. Naturally, Sydney played a pivotal role in these prophecies.
Jump the Shark moment? The bridge between season two and three.
After two seasons Sydney lost her friends. Francie Calfo and Will Tippin were Sydney’s “normal life” friends who knew nothing of her double life. They added a lot of heart to every episode and offered excellent contrast to all the globe-trotting adventures. Even if their stories were over, it would’ve been nice to keep that normal side of her life intact with new characters.
Rambaldi went on too long. When I first watched Alias, I thought taking down SD-6 would the series objective, but it was wrapped within two seasons. And the show got better. I figure if Rambaldi came to an end sooner, the door would’ve opened for even more awesome stories.
Despite my problems, there was much to love about seasons three through five of Alias (I own them all). But if seasons one and two were a ten, three through five were an eight. A fantastic score, but still a decline.
Gilmore Girls– Another show that qualifies as having a perfect pilot. The show centered around the relationship of mother, Lorelai Gilmore, and daughter, Rory Gilmore. Lorelai had Rory when she was sixteen, which is the age Rory is when the show begins.
The opening episode has Rory being accepted into a very prestigious and expensive school. In order to pay tuition fees, Lorelai is forced to ask her wealthy parents for a loan. They’ve been at odds since Lorelai was pregnant and have barely spoken since. This is why Lorelai’s mother, Emily Gilmore, makes Friday dinner at her house a condition of getting the loan. If that wasn’t enough, Lorelai’s love life is a mess and she doesn’t realize the perfect guy, Luke Danes, is standing right in front of her every morning she visits Luke’s Diner. Luke does his best to be the “friend” while watching Lorelai date all the wrong guys.
And that’s just Lorelai’s adventures.
One of my favorite parts of the show was the dialogue. It’s so quick and loaded with pop culture that the DVDs come with a Gilmore-isms feature. All this awesome and it still jumped the shark. And it was so bad, I have yet to finish the series.
Jump the Shark moment? Luke gets a long-lost daughter.
And this point in the show Luke and Lorelai are engaged, and to throw a monkey wrench into their plans, Luke’s long-lost daughter finds him. He decides to keep this from Lorelai, which snowballs into them breaking up and Lorelai sleeping with her ex-husband. Grrr.
Unfortunately, the creator of the show (Amy Sherman-Palladino) couldn’t come to an agreement to stay as showrunner for the final season. This is when the show went from Jump the Shark, but still good, to Jump the Shark BAD. I think the new showrunner did his best, but only Palladino could be the voice of that show. The characters weren’t acting like the ones I’d been watching for six years. I gave up.
I think the other problem was that it was the last season and story lines needed wrapping up. Perhaps after this transitional season, the next one would’ve been better. That’s what I’d like to think.
Agree or disagree? Has this happened to any of your favorite shows? Just like Tiffany, I’d love to hear from you!
First, a big THANKS to Andrew! His guest post couldn’t have come at a better time. Having just returned from vacation, I found myself scrambling around and like magic his email saved me. Please be sure and check out Andrew’s blog and learn more about him here. Like I mentioned on Friday’s FabOoolousness, I’m hoping Andrew launches Author Club and my invite is in the mail…
Before I go, I loved Alias, and always wished for more Will Tippin (Bradley Cooper). Anyone with me? It’s not like Michael Vaughn was a slouch by any means, but there was just something about Will that had me hoping he and Syndey would share more than just a friendship.
One last thing, stop by Roni Loren’s blog today and check out my guest post! I was honored when she asked me to write a guest post for her blog while she was away at a conference, and I specifically looked forward to doing the research for her hot Boyfriend of the Week series. Who did I choose? Click to find out….