Cover image for Jump the shark
Jump the shark
Hein, Jon, 1967-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Roseland, NJ : Listen & Live Audio, [2002]

Physical Description:
3 audio discs (3.5 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Compact discs.

Format :
Sound Cassette

Sound Recording


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E169.12 .J4462 2002 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

On Order



A riotous compendium of those priceless moments when the magic vanishes, the ratings go south, and the mighty become the fallen (who would have guessed a blue Gap dress could send Bill Clinton over the shark?). From the creator of the immensely popular website that has coined a catch phrase comes the book that is bound to be the pop-culture sensation of the season

Author Notes

Jon Hein lives with his wife and two kids in New York.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

It' s a truism that the entertainment industry can never leave well enough alone. With few exceptions, TV shows, movie series and entertainers all go on producing product well after their prime. The popular Web site which takes its name from the ignominious Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumps over a shark on water skis elaborates on this truism, chronicling the moments when TV series began their slides into embarrassment. Hein, the site' s creator, expands the site here, taking aim at not only TV shows, but also musicians, celebrities, athletes and politicians. It' s a risky move on Hein' s part because, as he himself notes, one of the first signs of a show' s doom is the spin-off. The book' s television chapter offers some deliciously catty pop criticism. Hein judges Family Ties, Beverly Hills 90210 and ER for fin spottings (Alex Keaton is born, Brenda goes abroad and Dr. Ross leaves, respectively). The writing is at times strangely ambivalent, as Hein' s theory of entertainment entropy ensnares just about every show imaginable, even ones he obviously likes (with the exception of The Simpsons, which miraculously escapes his eye). Like a producer with a smash hit sitcom, though, Hein can' t leave well enough alone and wades into deeper waters. The celebrities chapter is especially unfocused, swiping at everyone from Cher to Francis Ford Coppola. Still, it' s a light and easily digested read. Fins are definitely spotted, but the book never quite jumps the shark itself. (On sale Sept. 16) Forecast: According to Dutton, Hein' s site currently generates between four and eight million hits and roughly one million unique visitors per month. Those stats would suggest a huge audience, especially on college campuses. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Television A new cute kid suddenly moves in. Someone is pregnant or getting married, maybe both. The cast spontaneously breaks out into song. Next week's show is billed as A Very Special episode. You feel it in your gut. You know that your favorite TV show has jumped the shark. Even the great Garry Marshall admitted he knew it when he sent Fonzie out on those water skis . . . Happy Days would never be the same. There are a variety of ways that programs can jump, and I've narrowed some of them down into common themes or categories specific to television. Here's a brief sampling with a prime example included: Same Character, Different Actor-Mike Evans and Damon Evans play Lionel on The Jeffersons Death-Henry Blake's plane home goes down on M*A*S*H Puberty-Kevin Arnold's voice cracks on The Wonder Years Singing-Linda Lavin belts out a Broadway showstopper at Mel's Diner on Alice Birth-Avery is born on Murphy Brown Live-Tina takes down Colby at the Survivor finale I Do-Jeannie and Master tie the knot on I Dream of Jeannie They Did It-Niles and Daphne get together on Frasier The Movie-Mulder and Scully Fight the Future on The X-Files Moving-Meathead, Gloria, and Joey move out on All in the Family Special Guest Star-Nancy Reagan just says no to the cast of Diff'rent Strokes A Very Special . . . -This week, on A Very Special Blossom . . . New Kid in Town-Seven moves in with the Bundys on Married . . . with Children Hair Care-Keri Russell cuts her hair short on Felicity Graduation-The class turns the tassel on Beverly Hills 90210 Exit Stage Left-Dr. Joel Fleischman leaves Northern Exposure Color-No more black and white on The Beverly Hillbillies Vacation-A trip to Italy for Everybody Loves Raymond Each new season, we can count on television writers to try and pull off one of these plot devices, and few, if any, succeed. Some jumps are more brutal than others. I couldn't possibly cover the two thousand plus shows that are currently posted at, but I've detailed my favorites in this chapter. All in the Family 1971-1979 Saturdays on CBS "Boy the way Glenn Miller played/Songs that made the Hit Parade . . ." All in the Family was the first sitcom that dealt with real-life issues in a brutally honest way and made us laugh (mostly awkwardly) at both the show and ourselves. CBS aired a disclaimer prior to its premiere episode warning of the blunt humor Norman Lear was about to bestow upon us. Archie Bunker was an outspoken working-class bigot surrounded by people he despised. His "dingbat" wife, Edith, was the antithesis of Archie, but loved him just the same. They shared their house with their daughter, Gloria, who was married to the Polish unemployed liberal Michael, who Archie referred to as Meathead. You think it got testy on Crossfire ? All in the Family was a breeding ground for opinionated characters who couldn't help but irritate Archie. Who could forget George, Louise, or Lionel Jefferson (before they moved on up to the East Side), Edith's cousin Maude, or that special smooch from Special Guest Star Sammy Davis Jr.? All in the Family started slowly and needed a season to find its audience. CBS didn't support the show until it realized it had a groundbreaking hit on its hands. It survived the departure and subsequent spin-offs of Maude and The Jeffersons . However, when the Italian neighbors the Lorenzos moved in, we spotted a fin. This happened to coincide with the first time we heard Jean Stapleton's real voice during an awards acceptance speech. The next season Mike shaved his mustache, Gloria announced she was pregnant, and baby Joey was born. Following his birth and an unforgettable diaper change, Archie got laid off and the Bunkers took in Teresa as a boarder. The Stivics moved out, Archie bought the bar, Danielle Brisebois joined the cast as Archie's long-lost niece Stephanie, and the shark was jumped. This was also the season that Edith almost got raped. As the focus shifted to the bar (later Archie Bunker's Place ), we found ourselves longing for the Stivics to return from California and stir things up with Archie. Unfortunately, "those were the days." The Andy Griffith Show 1960-1968 Mondays on CBS The Andy Griffith Show was set in the perfect southern town of Mayberry and began with a leisurely stroll down to the fishin' hole, whistlin' that memorable theme. Sheriff Andy kept the peace with help from his cousin, faithful deputy Barney Fife, while Aunt Bee and his son, Opie, were at home. The first five seasons in Mayberry were chock filled with aw shucks, golly gee episodes. Who can forget Howard's trip to the Caribbean, the bowling and baseball games, anything involving Aunt Bee and a pie, and getting to know Opie, Otis, and even Gomer Pyle? Mayberry dealt with hula hoops and miniskirts, hippies and NASA, and of course, the misadventures of Deputy Barney Fife. At the end of season five, Don Knotts's contract was up and he had the opportunity to make film classics like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken . The five-time Emmy winner and counter to Andy's low-key personality decided it was time to leave Mayberry. When Barney Fife departed the laughs went with him, and The Andy Griffith Show was never the same. Gomer's brother Goober acquired a more prominent role, Helen Crump became more of a nag, and Opie joined a rock 'n' roll band. Jack Burns's turn as Deputy Warren Ferguson left us clamoring for Barney when the show went to color in its sixth season. Ironically, Don Knotts would experience that very same feeling when he replaced the Ropers on Three's Company as Mr. Furley. Barney returned to Mayberry later in a special guest appearance, but the damage was done. If you look closely at the fishin' hole, you'll see a fin slowly swimming away. The Beverly Hillbillies 1962-1971 Wednesdays on CBS "Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed . . ." This classic fish-out-of-water story happened in the town of Beverly and we couldn't get enough of it. The Clampetts hailed from the Ozarks and struck it rich when an oil well sprouted in their front yard. Black gold. Texas tea. Jed, Granny, Jethro, and Elly May loaded up their truck, moved to Beverly, put a few million into Drysdale's Commerce Bank, and bought the mansion next door to Mr. Drysdale. As Drysdale and his assistant Jane Hathaway tried to keep tabs on their most valued clients, wacky hijinks ensued. The Beverly Hillbillies was unpretentious, silly, and unbelievably popular. Society didn't get the Clampetts, and the Clampetts certainly didn't get society, but it didn't matter. The shark warning signs went up in the third season when the Drysdales got the Clampetts involved with a movie studio. Jethro tried to be a playboy, Elly May dated a movie star, and Granny kept on yelling "Jed!" However, when we started seeing the Clampetts in color instead of black and white, we knew the shark had been jumped. The Clampetts just got stupider, as did the plots, and that innocent intrigue wasn't there anymore. Jed was now singing (seriously), Jethro had gone beyond Hollywood, and Granny was still yelling "Jed!" Even Pat Boone put in a special guest star appearance as himself. We can thank the Beverly Hillbillies for rural classics such as Green Acres and Petticoat Junction. Unfortunately, all the money in the world couldn't stop the shark from visiting the Clampetts. Y'all come back now, you hear? Beverly Hills 90210 1990-2000 Wednesdays on FOX The zip code of the nineties was 90210 . . . not bad for a show that most "experts" figured would last only a few episodes. This Spelling gang proved that, like their hangout the Peach Pit, they could keep it going way after dark. Beverly Hills 90210 was a lethal combination of good-looking young (but not quite teenager) actors, California sun, a creator named Star, and an Executive Producer (plus a so-called actress) named Spelling. The show revolved around the Walsh family, who had just moved from Minneapolis. Brandon and Brenda were midwestern kids trying to fit in at West Beverly Hills High . . . and fit in they did. The original 90210 alumni, including Steve, Kelly, Dylan, Donna, Andrea, and David, got advice at "Casa Walsh" from Brandon and Brenda's parents. In later years, Peach Pit owner Nat took over the mentor role (and actor Joe E. Tata finally made the opening credits) when Mom and Pop Walsh moved to Japan-leaving the house to Brandon, Steve, and vampy cousin Valerie, as well as a host of quickly made and fast-forgotten college friends. Over the decade-long run, we saw a host of interchangeable beautiful young actors literally come and go with problems that grew increasingly "serious." Who could forget Emily trashing the float, Andrea's balding husband Jesse, the hit on Dylan's wife, and Donna and Val's singing, abusive boyfriend Ray! We spotted a fin when Dylan inherited millions from his mysterious, and now dead, father and David hit puberty and began to rap. When the original cast graduated from high school ("Donna Martin graduates!" is still ringing in our ears) and attended California U., we sensed the leap to come. Brenda's exit to study acting abroad (good advice, Shannen) signaled the start of a 90210 exodus, and the show had finally jumped the shark. Cousin Val had Brenda's bite, and she was easier to hate because we had no loyalty to her. Still Kelly Kapowski-even with new "assets"-couldn't fill Shannen's shoes. All of the Walshes would find greener pastures elsewhere, Dylan (Luke Perry) would leave searching for a film career, only to (surprise!) return three years later. Even newcomer-turned-regular Clare put away her handcuffs and jumped ship in '97. Brandon and Kelly sort of got married, Donna's quest to remain a virgin continued (unsuccessfully, in the end), and classics like the Peach Pit After Dark became prominent features of the show. 90210 paved the path for not only Melrose Place and Models, Inc. , but also for the film careers of Luke Perry and Jason Priestley and a talk show for Gabrielle Carteris. Thank you, Beverly Hills-quite a legacy. Bewitched 1964-1972 Thursdays on ABC "Bewitched . . . Bewitched . . . You've got me under your spell." Yes, there were lyrics to that jazzy opening theme, but the creators of this witch tale were wise enough to spike them. Bewitched centered around the life of Samantha Stephens, played by the really-hot-at-the-time Elizabeth Montgomery. Sam attempted to abandon her witchcraft in order to fit in at home with husband, Darrin, whom she wed in the first episode. The rigors of domestic life presented Sam with little else to do than twitch her nose and stir up trouble while trying to solve family problems. Sam's parents-Endora and Maurice-Uncle Arthur, and Aunt Clara could not fathom why she stopped using her powers and chose to marry Durwood. Frankly, neither could we. Ad agency boss Larry Tate and his wife, Louise, also kept things interesting for the Stephenses. The writing was on the wall for a jump when Tabitha was born during the second season, but the wacky comedy didn't take itself too seriously yet. At the beginning of season four, Dick Sargent was brought in to replace Dick York, with no acknowledgment. Granted, they had a great excuse-she's a witch, after all. Following the Dick switch, Sam began to portray her evil cousin Serena. Esmeralda, who was also a witch, was brought in as a housekeeper. The Stephenses had a second child, Adam, who looked nothing like Dick York or Dick Sargent. More of the focus shifted to Tabitha, and who could forget the calls to Dr. Bombay. Bewitched had gone from chronicling an intriguing couple with occasional visitors to a wacky family of four with historical figures often dropping by. No Dick could have prevented the show from taking its fatal leap over the shark. The Brady Bunch 1969-1974 Fridays on ABC "Here's the story . . ." There were only five seasons of The Brady Bunch , but it feels like the longest running show in the history of television. Syndication brought this crew into our homes repeatedly, and brainwashed us into loving the Bradys. Mike Brady was busy with three boys of his own when he met Carol, who was busy with three very lovely girls. Mix in Ann B. Davis as Alice the housekeeper and a hideously designed home by a "professional" architect (one bathroom for six kids), and you've got the Brady Bunch! The Brady Bunch managed to sidestep the shark as the kids matured ("When it's time to change . . .") in memorable ways. Whether it was Cindy's lisp or the sudden disappearance of Tiger, too much Sam the Butcher or too little Jan without her glasses, the show was masterfully adept at shark avoidance. Plenty of Special Guest Stars happened to drop by the Brady home portraying themselves, including Joe Namath, Don Drysdale, Davy Jones, and of course, Desi Arnaz, Jr. Their involvement typically revolved around a prom, big game, or some other major event at F, F, F-I-L, L, L, L-M-O,O,O, O-R-E, Fillmore Junior High. Still, there was nary a fin to be found. The Brady musical careers were prime shark bait. Alice might have been the only one in the house who didn't want to have a professional singing career. It started with the kids belting out the opening theme and grew like a fungus from there. The Silver Platters. Johnny Bravo. Cindy's "Good Ship Lollipop." Carol's holiday tunes. If you look closely, you can see Robert Reed holding his, uh, ears in the back of the kitchen. Nothing could top a Brady vacation. The trip to Hawaii featured Greg's surfing accident, taboo (!), and Special Guest Star Vincent Price. Who could forget the calls of "Bobby! Cindy!" when they were lost in the Grand Canyon? And of course, they're still looking for Mike's architecture plans at the King's Island amusement park. Somehow, this wacky sextet managed to pull it off every time. Evil twins and stolen playbooks, exploding volcanoes and Greg knocking the egg off the cone, the Bradys still marched on. This show was so camp that nothing could make it jump the shark. Enter Cousin Oliver. In an attempt to up the cute factor as Bobby and Cindy matured, Robbie Rist was brought in to play Cousin Oliver. Even the Bradys couldn't escape the plight of the most surefire way to jump the shark-a young relative with unexplained origins. The Bradys continued to march on with variety shows, stage plays, TV reunion movies, successful theatrical releases, and more. They truly became "America's Family" . . . but we'll never accept Oliver as part of the family picture. --from Jump the Shark: When Good Things Go Bad by Jon Hein, Copyright © September 2002, Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission. Excerpted from Jump the Shark: When Good Things Go Bad by Jon Hein All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.