Monday, December 08, 2008

The True JTS Moment?

As you know, I believe that Happy Days incorporates more shark-jump points than any other show. So when I watched the fourth season DVD (coming out tomorrow, and with all the music -- surprisingly -- intact and paid for), I was actively looking for other moments that could be seen as shark bait. And I found one: a scene that I remembered as being a possible JTS moment occurred midway through the fourth season. (The Pinky Tuscadero thing is also a definite JTS possibility, of course, but that's the season opener.)

What's JTS-y about this scene is that it takes all the gimmicks of the Fonzie character and incorporates them into less than two minutes of screen time: he inexplicably shows up to save Richie; turns an evil woman good with one snap of his fingers; performs some kind of impossible feat of strength; makes the jukebox play "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" by hitting it. By having all these clich├ęs go off at once, the writers finally completed the transformation of Fonzie into a cartoon superhero, which is what he would be in the actual Jump the Shark episode. So this is, arguably, the moment when Fonzie became a complete parody of himself, and that's a possible definition of a JTS moment.

Are there any other moments you can think of that struck you like that -- where a show put in so many gimmicks and catchphrases at once that it seemed to have gone too far? I know there are lots of characters who turned into parodies of themselves over the years, but I can't think of many who had one specific moment of transition. The only other one I can think of for now is Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who instantly went from the best character on the show to a bad pod-person parody of himself when he had the slap-fight with Harmony.


Anonymous said...

I still have to go with Part 2 of the Season 4 opener, when in order to blow the dust back into the Malachi Brothers' face during the demolition derby battle with Fonzie and Pinky, the writers have our heroes pull out a portable hair dryer which; A.) Didn't become a major consumer product until 1971-72, and B.) Was being used in an automobile, so they not only have a product that wasn't going to be around for another 15 years, but also have a car cigarette lighter adapter for it (for all those people who normally dry their hair while driving).

I already had concerns about the direction of the show from Season 4 and tuned into Season 5 hoping they'd get back on track only to have this jaw-dropping warp in the time continuum show up 50 minutes into the show (the only positive this was the viewer feedback on Pinky apparently was so bad we never saw her again and most of the rest of the season wasn't nearly as horrific).

Anthony Strand said...

You know, I never noticed anything shark-jumpingly bad about that Xander/Harmony bit. I should probably watch again with that in mind.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Anthony: To me the Xander/Harmony scene was the exact point where Xander finally became a clueless, useless doofus, something they had managed to avoid making him in the first three seasons (though they were teetering on the brink in some parts of the third season). His descent into uselessness would continue unabated from then on.

John: You may already know this, but Pinky and the Malachi brothers are major characters in the Happy Days musical that Garry Marshall wrote. I haven't seen it, but if he thinks that was a good episode, I'd expect no less from a guy who thought Georgia Rule was a movie worth making.

Anonymous said...

Haha, wow, that scene you posted... Fonzie can knock down doors with his bare hands? Either those are incredibly flimsy doors or he's The Hulk.

Even though it aired after the infamous Jump the Shark episode, I always thought the episode where Fonzie battles Mork the alien was worse. At that point, I knew the show was out of ideas.

Rob Bates said...

If I'm not mistaken Fonzie never really hurt, or even really roughed up, anyone. He really only had the image of a hood. So it's not surprising that instead of actually fighting he just magically destroys two bathroom doors. (Did he pay Al back for that?)

Let's not forget Henry Winkler was not a big, or particularly muscular, guy. But as the character evolved, the deal seemed to be, it wasn't his stature that mattered, it was his superhuman belief in his own coolness that made all these incredible things happen. Almost by his sheer aura.

As dumb as those Pinky/Malachi Brothers episodes were, I remember them being quite the talk of the schoolyard the next day. (Just like the Six Million Dollar Man Bigfoot episodes. Have they ever been discussed?)