Forward Thinking: Laying the shark to rest

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New Zealand's own Charles Mesure with Vanessa Williams on the set of Desperate Housewives. Photo / Supplied
New Zealand's own Charles Mesure with Vanessa Williams on the set of Desperate Housewives. Photo / Supplied

Discussing the arrival of TV's new season in the TimeOut offices the other day, there was an awkward silence when one of the team piped up to ask: "What's 'jumped the shark'?"

Explaining how the ancient Fonz waterskiing episode in the 70s-sitcom-about-the-50s Happy Days led to this pop culture adage about shows that had long reached a point of silliness, did make us think - has jump the shark, in, fact, jumped the shark?

Like, do we need another quip about shows which have done their dash but keep coming back for another season? Something derived from more recent viewing memories?

Despite all the new additions to our primetime, there are among them a bunch of shows that have been around for eight or more seasons. And those of us living life in the couch potato time-warp that is MySky are having to make some tough decisions to avoid capacity overload about shows we once loved that just don't do it for us anymore.

Some of those old shows in new seasons could well provide a new jump the shark shorthand.

Among them is Desperate Housewives, which started its final and eighth season this week with our own Charles Mesure in the cast.

Poor guy must be wondering why he's seemingly always cast in shows with the end in sight. His character's death ended the penultimate season of Outrageous Fortune, his very good This Is Not My Life lasted just the one local season. Then he started in Hollywood alien invasion series V shortly before it crashed to Earth and now he's helping read the last rites on Wisteria Lane.

Anyway, a Desperate Housewives point-of-no-return catchphrase?

How about from when Edie Britt met her end by car-crash electrocution in season five. If a show "sure shocked the blonde" that might describe a series getting to the point where it kills off its most ridiculous character only for the ensuing seasons to push past self-parody.

Also in its eighth and final season is House, which was once the most watched television show on the planet. But this series started off with House locked up in prison after driving his car into Cuddy's home at the end of season seven.

He started off season six institutionalised in a psychiatric hospital. Both of which suggest the phrase "locked up the doc". That is, the point where the show feels that its enigmatic, troubled and outlandish lead character needs to prove how enigmatic, troubled and outlandish he is, and is prepared to take him far away from the professional setting which defined him. So it's a relief to faithful fans when he actually gets back to work.

And then there's CSI, which has been on screen for 12 years and now has Ted Danson as the new squad boss D.B. Russell.

Elizabeth Shue, who once starred in a movie called Leaving Las Vegas, is soon reversing those directions and replacing Marg Helgenberger's long-time toe-tagger Catherine Willows.

Danson replaced Laurence Fishburne whose Ray Langston had replaced Gil Grissom, played by William Petersen.

It's just a pity The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again is the theme to CSI: Miami, not CSI because its lyric "meet the new boss/same as the old boss" might have cued Danson's arrival quite nicely.

Except while his dramatic turn as corrupt CEO Arthur Frobisher in Damages, was quite something, the early evidence suggests that he's been brought into CSI to lighten things up.

Which looks like a bad idea; hence his very own Cheers-referenced jumped-the-shark motto ...

"You still watching CSI?"

"Nope, not since they Maloned the morgue."

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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