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‘Jumping the Shark’ explained

We've all felt that disconcerting moment when a good tv show goes bad. Whether in the form of an unrealistic plot twist, the unexplained replacement of a key character, or a suspicious drift from the original premise, that palatable drop in quality is what tv critics call 'jumping the shark.' The term comes from a moment in the series Happy Days when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark wearing water skis. Until then, he was known for his sex appeal and rebellious nature, not sideshow stunts involving aquatic predators. It was a sign of sorry times for the show, but at least it spawned a catchy industry phrase. A second Happy Days shark jump came with its ill-fated spin-off series Joanie Loves Chachi. What were they thinking?
April 1, 2006

We’ve all felt that disconcerting moment when a good TV show goes bad. Whether in the form of an unrealistic plot twist, the unexplained replacement of a key character, or a suspicious drift from the original premise, that palatable drop in quality is what tv critics call ‘jumping the shark.’ The term comes from a moment in the series Happy Days when Fonzie literally jumped over a shark wearing water skis. Until then, he was known for his sex appeal and rebellious nature, not sideshow stunts involving aquatic predators. It was a sign of sorry times for the show, but at least it spawned a catchy industry phrase. A second Happy Days shark jump came with its ill-fated spin-off series Joanie Loves Chachi. What were they thinking?

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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