Friday, February 27, 2009


The other day I clicked on, looking for a comment I'd seen there many years ago. The site hadn't been much good for years, and was going downhill even before it was sold to TV Guide, but now it's gone. TV Guide has eliminated the site, and all the thousands of comments. They still have the basic descriptions for the main types of JTS moments, but when you click on one, you get only the description followed by TV Guide posts that contain those specific keywords. It's a shame to lose the comments and arguments; there were even some comments from people on the actual shows. The Jump the Shark site was the only place where you could find a note from Randall Carver confirming that he was in fact alive and well.

Yes, the site was not well managed, never had a good system for organizing or navigating comments, and was a victim of its own success: once the term "Jump the Shark" entered the language, becoming a phrase we use without thinking (there's no point in saying that the phrase itself has jumped the shark; once a term becomes that common, there's really no going back), it didn't need one specific website for arguments about what makes a particular show JTS. Every discussion forum had JTS arguments of its own.

Still, it was fun to go there and see the voting patterns and comments; sometimes they could be surprising. The moment that got the most votes for Happy Days was not the actual shark jump, nor Ted McGinley, nor any of the other JTS moments, but the switch to a live studio audience.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, JTS didn't really evolve much, and as a result the rest of the web passed it by. But it was such a great site at the beginning, because it allowed you to compare notes with a diverse group of people about TV shows. Also, it was fun to see all the obscure shows listed that you always thought had been just some figment of your imagination. And it was useful as a guide to the conventional wisdom about various shows. I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw WKRP on the "Never Jumped" list, because I was afraid that most people just wrote it off as 70s kitsch. But it was never perfect: posters who tried (and failed) to be funny instead of giving an honest opinion, massive fandoms in denial over their shows flaws (the usual suspects: Simpsons, Star Trek, Family Guy, Joss Whedon), and people who took it all way too seriously (I think JTS gave Scrappy Doo hate its first wide audience).

Anthony Strand said...

Oh, man. That is sad. As you say, it hadn't been worth visiting in years (how many years, I'm not even sure). But I remember when I first found it in junior high (this would have been about 1998 or so), I read the whole site - literally every comment from A to Z.

This was the same period of time when I was reading things like Brooks & Marsh's "Complete Directory to Network and Cable Primetime Television Shows 1948-Present" from cover to cover. So discovering JTS, with people just giving opinions about TV, was like heaven. It was a world I had never witnessed before.

Of course, by now, it's one that I'm largely sick of. But I'll always look back fondly on those days.

Man. What a dork.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying "Jump the Shark" jumped the shark when "jump the shark" became ubiquitous? Or was it when they hired Ted McGinley to help boost ratings?

ramapith said...

The site as it existed in its prime seems mostly to be saved on, with a vast number of the individual shows' pages included:

If you want to see it, though, I'd go fast; there's a long tradition of sites' post-takeover owners ordering to block the older versions of the pages.

Anonymous said...

Ramapith is CORRECT! Thankl GOD for archives..and somehting called Waback..abnd Beekep..btw that is the 1st incarnaiton..the second, which allows you to instant post and sign yourself,etc.isn't there. I signed under my own name and also under..Penny Pingleton [ya know, like in Hairspray], sometimes adding to my own moniker, -a REAL shark.:) Among other names., Hey, mnaybe we can start asking each other "What name did YOU post under in Jump the Shark when it was in its second incarnation".:)