Uh, Oh...Better Get Mako

on September 07, 2010 by Steve Simels

Interesting and alarming entertainment news from the LA Times: Fred Fox Jr., the man who wrote the Happy Days episode that occasioned the introduction of the phrase"Jump the shark" into the vernacular, has finally broken his media silence on the subject with a long and self-serving apologia of sorts.

Bottom line:  He's pissed off.

In 1987, Jon Hein and his roommates at the University of Michigan were drinking beer and had Nick at Nite playing in the background. They started talking about classic TV shows when someone asked, "What was the precise moment you knew it was downhill for your favorite show?" One said it was when Vicki came on board The Love Boat. Another thought it was when the Great Gazoo appeared on The Flintstones. Sean Connolly offered, "That's easy: It was when Fonzie jumped the shark." As Hein later recounted, there was silence in the room: "No explanation necessary, the phrase said it all." Thus was born an expression that would quickly make its way into the pop culture mainstream, defined by Hein as "a moment. A defining moment when you know from now on … it's all downhill … it will never be the same." If I had been in the room, however, I would have broken that silence of self-assuredness, for I wrote that now infamous episode of Happy Days.
And more than three decades later, I still don't believe that the series "jumped the shark" when Fonzie jumped the shark...

Fox goes on to explain in some detail exactly why the phrase, shall we say, irks him, but in case if you never seen the scene in question, here it is. Personally, I think the whole thing has less to do with the actual jumping of the shark and more with the fact that star Henry Winkler, as The Fonz,  is water-skiing in a leather jacket and shorts, but you be the judge.

In any case, you can read the rest of the thing here. If you ask me, however, Fox -- a scribe whose credits, if that is precisely the term, after Happy Days include such towering works as Webster, It's Your Move, He's the Mayor, and (most memorably) The New Leave It to Beaver -- should be damned proud that something he wrote resulted in a contribution to the language. Or as Phil Hartman's Frank Sinatra once told a whining Jan Hooks as Sinnead O'Connor on SNL -- swing baby, you're platinum,

Tags: Happy Days, Henry Winkler, The New Leave It to Beaver

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