That's a beautiful phrase. It refers to when a tv show or anything hits an apex, and then the rest is downhill. I don't see that this necessarily happens all the time but usually does when it comes to the arts. How many sequels are that good? 1% of them? I can only think of Mad Max 2 as fitting that category. Happy Days was actually a pretty darn good show. The first years were awesome. It was based on the movie American Graffiti. It was realistic. It was old-school acting and comedy. The fonz actually played the tough guy role to a tee. Opie, er Richie Cunningham, was solid.
Now this isn't a new phenomenon. I believe jumping the shark has been going on since the television was invented. Ever see some of those I Love Lucy's when they moved out to the ranch in California or wherever the frig they ended up? What about The Andy Griffith Show when they went to colour. Ugh!
Look at M*A*S*H. The first two years were awesome. Colonel Blake and Trapper John were so much more funnier than Colonel Potter and ** Hunnicut. Frank Burns ruled over Charles Winchester. Plus, Alan Alda and the others there the whole way aged 12 years or whatever over the course of the show, much more than the actual Korean War went on for. They aged as much as Presidents do in four years!
Some sequels were so bad, they need to be mentioned. Ever see Meatballs 2? Triple Ugh. Or Mad Max Thunderdome with Tina Turner? Ok, maybe that one was half decent. But what about Rocky 19? Enough already.
I found a really good, intellectual review of Mad Max 2. Anyone into that movie needs to see this. It's pure brilliance.
MAD MAX 2 film analysis by Rob Ager 1 of 2
MAD MAX 2 film analysis by Rob Ager 2 of 2
But back to the jumping the shark thingie. Here it is.
Fonz Jumps the Shark on HAPPY DAYS
Now compare that to an early episode.
happy days pilot part 1
I'll try a few more examples. It can even be applied to bands. Jumping the shark as a phrase is right up there with cognitive dissonance or cultural wasteland. Can you dig it?
Andy Griffith "Opie and the Spoiled Kid" in 5 minutes
It's said that the dividing line for good versus bad episodes of that show is when it went to coloured film. That makes sense. Here is an episode with Jack Nicholson.
Jack Nicholson on The Andy Griffith Show
Here's early REM.
REM Don't Go Back to Rockville (Live '85)
You know, why even try to find some of their jumped the shark stuff. I love early REM. Here's some early Letterman, too!
REM - Radio Free Europe
U2 - Boy (1980)
And to wrap up, here is U2 perhaps at their golden peak:
One Tree Hill - u2 - The Joshua Tree