Tele-Tuesday: When TV Makes a Wrong Turn (Via Andrew Mocete)

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.


AliasVery 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 GirlsAnother 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….

52 Replies to “Tele-Tuesday: When TV Makes a Wrong Turn (Via Andrew Mocete)”

  1. A guy who can admit that Gilmore Girls is a good show…I love you, Andrew!

    Agreed on all counts, both Gilmore and Alias. Excellent shark jumping analysis.

    1. Thanks, Amber! Want an even bigger laugh? I introduced my wife to the show!

      I really wish ASP stayed on for the last season. She’s the only one who could’ve brought it back to greatness. Too bad the movie never happened. At this point I think it’s dead.

    1. Hey, Kathy! Didn’t Andrew do a great job? I was so very excited when he told me the topic, and knew right away that his post was gold! What shows do you think Jumped the Shark? Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Happy Days was the only one of these shows I watched, but I agree Fonzie was way too cool for the shark jumping.

    My biggest problems have been when actors decide to leave a show, but I guess that can’t be helped. I HATED it when Grissom left CSI. 😦

    1. Yeah, not many shows survive losing major cast members and even if they do, they’re never the same again. One exception that comes to mind is the original Law and Order. I wish it hadn’t been cancelled because the newest cast was fantastic.

      You should check out Alias and Gilmore Girls. I think you’d really like them.

    2. Hi, Lauralynn! Thanks for stopping by ~ I agree completely that when the original actors decide to leave a show, it’s tough. Grissom leaving really hurt CSI, and with Fishbourne leaving now too, I just don’t know how the show will fare. I really wish they hadn’t killed Warrick off because they really can’t bring him back now (of course, I think he was just arrested in real life so maybe that wouldn’t be a good idea anyway).

  3. Loved your post Andrew. I did know about the “jump the shark” expression and loved your picks for those shows. I totally loved Alias. It was one of my all time favorite shows and I think you did pick the right “jump the shark” moments. I missed Sydney’s “normal life” as well and Rambaldi went on too long. I also thought the show had a satisfying ending.

    1. Remember when Bradley Cooper guest stared in one episode in the third season and got to go on a mission with Sydney? My FAVORITE of the whole season. Totally brought me back to the early days. And then made me sad when it was over. Thanks for commenting!

    2. Hey, Melissa! Thanks for stopping by – I agree with you that Alias had a satisfying ending….I always thought they left it open for a made for tv movie or something. I’d love to see that – Sydney balancing kids & her spy life, Marshall babysitting….as long as Will returns!

  4. I taught my mom that phrase a year or so ago and now, when anything happens that she doesn’t like on a show, she uses it. Sometimes correctly, sometimes not, but it’s always funny when she does it!

  5. The shows that jumped the shark for me are:
    Heroes – sadly the 1st season finale was the ‘jump the shark’ moment for me and, after a lackluster start to season 2, I gave up on the show.
    Dharma and Greg – what was a quirky and cute show ‘jumped the shark’ when Dharma and her professor kiss and Greg finds out. I rarely watched after that.
    House – this season’s finale was the ‘jump the shark’ moment for me. Even though next season is most likely it’s last, I’m done with the show.
    The Andy Griffith Show – once Barney left the show (which coincided with the show going color) it ‘jumped the shark’.

    1. David, you’re right on with Heroes. I still can’t believe how bad it was after season one. I watched every season, hoping it’d get back what it was. You didn’t miss much dropping out when you did.

      And I’ll go back further and say House jumped when they broke him up with Cuddy. Why? I’m sure there were good stories to tell with them together and if they still wanted to to break them up, there were other ways to do it. But I’ll be back for the new season.

      Never saw the other ones, but they sound like jump the shark moments.

    2. David, I really agree with your choice of Heroes. The show had SO MUCH potential and just flaked after season one.

      You really won’t watch the next season of House? I agree – it will probably be the last which is why I think it will be worth watching. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I never watched much Alias, but I always wanted to, haha. Still haven’t, and I still want to…

    As for Gilmore Girls, I really got into the show for two years then got annoyed because I felt the plot was going nowhere and everyone was being far too stupid. I mean, I get making mistakes, but these people are pretty smart and were making super unintelligent moves. But that was just me. I might’ve been sick of boyfriend drama at the time, too. Ah, high school.

    1. Andrew – Or, maybe you’d like to do another Tele-Tuesday down the road? My mother doesn’t necessarily leave comments, but she did say how much she enjoyed your post and agreed about Alias….of course, she thought the show really declined when Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan split in real-life. I was with you – that the show was never the same when Will and Francie weren’t on as often. Thanks again for the fab post!

  7. What a way to put it: Fonzie on skis was the Jump the Shark Moment.

    Dexter SPOILER to follow:

    My husband and I love Dexter. Love him. I thought the Jump the Shark moment came when Dexter got Rita pregnant and had to marry her. Her nagging an whining (for however many seasons it lasted) were a nightmare. I thought the show was redeemed when Rita bit the dust. I actually cheered.

    Last season of Dexter was better, but the show seems to have gotten into a loop. By that, I mean the show is the same every season: Dexter meets another Killer™ and thinks he’s found his soulmate. Season finale: it all goes down the toilet, and Dexter is alone again.

  8. Dexter is awesome! And I think I’m Rita’s only fan, so I was sad she had to be killed. When I look back, her death works as a natural escalation to Dexter’s main problem of searching for his humanity while dealing with The Dark Passenger. He doesn’t have Rita anymore to shoulder the responsibility of the “normal” side of his life. What will he do now? In that sense, I don’t think it ever jumped. It’ll be interesting to see where they take him for season six.

  9. I missed Alias when it was first running. Don’t know how that happened. But it’s been on my list. Better check the Netflix and see if I can get it streaming.

    I love the phrase “Jump the Shark.” There’s a few shows that have done it for me. X-Files: I was frustrated by how long it took Mulder and Scully to finally get together but I really lost interest when Mulder was abducted and they brought in Mulder and Scully 2.0. Now, I love the Terminator guy but I watched the show for Mulder and Scully. I still haven’t watched those last seasons. House: I’ve been frustrated with House for quite awhile. All the suggestions that he might change and then he goes right back to square one. I’ve only been watching here and there. Heros: I have to agree about the first season too. Loved it…didn’t love the rest.

    1. Everyone seems to be agreeing on House and Heroes so far….but, with my television addiction, it doesn’t stop me from watching until the very end. Thanks for stopping by, Sonia!

    2. Wow Sonia, I forgot about X-Files. I do give the writers credit for trying to keep the show going without Mulder. You really felt the effect of his absence those few episodes he was in during season eight.

      As for Mulder and Scully 2.0? (Love the name) They were good, but people wanted X-Files through the eyes of the REAL Mulder and Scully. Doggett and Reyes had some really good episodes together, but those were shoes no one could fill.

      Have you seen the last movie? It got slammed pretty hard, but I liked it and thought it book ended the series better than the finale.

  10. Hi Andrew. Great blog. The first wrong turn that comes to my mind is the Star Trek series of shows. I’m a die-hard Star Trek fan, and I found something to like about all of their series right up until Voyager, which surpassed the most disgusting limits of political correctness in their cast alone. Black Vulcan? Hispanic Klingon? The only character missing was the Intergalactic Diversity Specialist, who would be a half-Vietnamese, half-Romulan recovering heroine addict welfare mother of twelve in a wheelchair who holds a graduate degree in Whale Salvation. At that point, I moved on.

    1. Hahahaha! and thanks, Piper. I’ve never watched Star trek, but after an offense like that, I don’t blame you for cutting out. Should I start with Next Generation? I’ve heard many good things about that series.

      1. You’ve never watched Star Trek? Really? I can’t believe it! I was sure that was a show you would have watched. Wow. I’m a die hard Trekkie all the way back to the original that I watched when I was a kid. But NOT Voyager! LOL.

  11. I agree that Heroes was a show that had such promise in the first season, and at some point lost its mojo. I can’t specifically identify that Jump the Shark moment, though.

    However, the Cosby Show is an easy one. Definitely one of the best family sitcoms ever until the last couple of seasons. What does a family show do when the children are growing up and leaving home? Introduce more children, I guess. So Cousin Pam and Olivia make their appearance. But this wasn’t the family we had grown to know and love. It just floundered at that point – never really finding its groove again.

    1. The Cosby Show is a great one, Julie! I’d never really thought of it until now….

      I think Weeds is another on Showtime – when Nancy burned down her house and left Agrestic. But then again, I do still watch….

      Thanks for stopping by!

    2. Good one on The Cosby Show, Julie. It’s upsetting when a show won’t end when it should. I suppose when there’s still profits to be made, you have to keep going. This does remind me of the extra kid Married With Children added. And since it wasn’t working, he walked up the stairs one day and never came back. Awesome.

  12. Oh, I remember that one, Andrew! The MWC reference, I mean. That was so funny. They turned a stupid move into something smart. I wish the viewers could all vote for those kinds of things – you know, with a remote control to a trap door or something.

  13. Yay! One of my favorite bloggers guesting for one of my favorite blogs. Terrific!
    I liked Season 1 & 2 of Gilmore Girls, but then I stopped watching them. The first two seasons were hilarious. I like the hilarity.
    And Alias is a show I’ve been wanting to see forever. Now I definitely want to see it.
    Great post!

    1. I recommend going back to Gilmore Girls for more hilarity. A standout moment was when Stars Hollow holds a town meeting to decide what to do if Luke and Lorelai break up. Of course, Luke and Lorelai are sitting right there and being talked about in the third person. Quality.

  14. Bones, oh my stars Bones!!! There is NO WAY Zack would’ve done what they made him do. Absolutely did not believe this kid genius would become a serial killer groupie. I haven’t watched it since, except an episode now and then. That was a huge jump the shark decision for me.

    I was never into Happy Days, so it is interesting to know now where the term came from. Thanks!

    1. Hi, Carolyn! I’m so happy you stopped by.

      I’m a BIG BONES fan. BIG. HUGE. It may be my favorite show on TV. I couldn’t believe what they did with Zack but I’ve never stopped watching. I can’t help but think he had other things on the horizon and that was the only way to write him off interestingly enough and then have him come back in guest spots like they’ve done. I hate to hear that you don’t watch it regularly now – the sexual tension between Booth and Bones really came to a head this year.

      Thanks for leaving a comment and supporting Andrew’s guest post!

    2. Your welcome, Carolyn!

      Yes, that was a lame plot twist. I want to blame the shorter season because of the writer’s strike. I know some Zach story was nixed, like what his time in Iraq did to him emotionally. Perhaps it might’ve made more sense.

      Zach appears in an episode the following season and it did a good job tying up loose ends. I thought it gave his character better closure.

      Life without Zach has lead to some great episodes. Still not the same without him, but worth a watch.

  15. Primeval. Great BBC show. And they went and killed off nearly ALL of the original cast by the end of season 2. It kind of tanked for about a season, then has gotten better during the current season, but I fear it may not be long for this world.

    1. Hey, Kait! Primeval….I really need to start checking out the BBC. I’ve heard they have some great shows – like the British version of Being Human and some British Law and Order show. I’d not heard of Primeval until now…thanks for stopping by and supporting Andrew’s guest post!

  16. OK, Tiff (*waving hi Andrew!!) , I know you’ll be really proud of me for chiming in here…

    I’ve gotta bring up Friends. I loved, loved, loved Friends back in the day and, even though he was whiny, the Ross/Rachel thing was extremely well done. Is there any bigger classic line than, “We were ON A BREAK!”??

    But then we got to the Rachel and Joey scenario when she was pregnant with Ross’ baby. Really? Just because Monica and Chandler are now having an inter-Friends shag session, now we’ve got to try to kindle love interest between Rachel and Joey??! I don’t know if the problems started back in the Ross/Emily stage or if it was the Rachel/Joey try, but my interest in the show started to wane at that point.

    Not that I didn’t keep watching when I could. After all, it WAS Friends…

    1. Jenny! I loved Friends – I did think the Rachel with Joey carrying Ross’ baby was a stretch, but I never thought about the show Jumping the Shark until now. Very nice! I didn’t stop watching, either – obviously!

      I still think “On a break” is popular today….it’ll be a pop culture saying for a very long time.

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