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Old 12-17-2007, 12:21 PM   #8
bluedana
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Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Massachusetts
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No, it didn't. "Jumping the shark" has a very specific meaning, one that does not fit here. It comes from an episode of Happy Days where the epitome of cool character, The Fonz, literally jumps a tank of sharks on his motorcycle. People now use the terms loosely (and incorrectly) to refer to when a show does something they don't like, whether it's introduce a new concept or character, or pursues a storyline that isn't as strong as previous "good" episodes.

But, frankly, that isn't what "jumping the shark" meant, originally. The phrase actually means the point in the show where you have strayed so far from the initial premise, usually to revive sagging ratings, that you can't go back. And while QL did have ratings issues, and, arguably, had weaker storylines in Season 5 (although I don't completely buy that as well - every season had episodes that could have been better), it never ditched the formula irrevocably.

The Evil Leapers were simply an addition - they didn't violate canon or change Sam's mission. In fact, they were hinted at in the B'man episode (where Sam is told that the devil is actively messing up people's lives). There was no in-show rule that Sam would not leap into famous people; that was a philosophy taken - and broken - by DB. And he only did it 3 times out of almost a hundred leaps. Each episode, even the Sam is nuts ones, remained true to the original premise, and so QL never did jump the shark.

Contrast that with the Happy Days episode. After performing such a hokey, cheesy stunt, Fonz could never go back the James Dean-esque coolness that defined his character. Ever. Another example of JTS-ing would be the spin off of Happy Days: Laverne and Shirley. After years of successful stories centered around these blue collar working girls in the late 50's/early 60's Milwaukee beer bottling plant, the show moved to Los Angeles - a completely opposite environment. They made up stupid reasons why everyone L&S knew would also move to LA, and when Cindy Williams refused to come back to the show, they put a double in a full body cast (with a "comic" accident explanation) and concentrated on the other characters. The bond between these two women, which was the premise for the show, was lost completely. That's jumping the shark. It also happens when writers introduce a new focus character (think "Cousin Oliver" on the Brady Bunch (a "jump" that preceded the term) or have the characters sleep together, thereby changing the fundamental relationship that made the series work (think Moonlighting)).

Up until the very last episode, QL was true to its premise - quantum physicist lost in time, living pieces of other people's lives, putting right things that went wrong, and hoping someday to get home. We really don't know what the 6th season would have brought. While Leaping Between the States broke the "within his own lifetime rule," it was addressed and explained in the show, and it didn't leave any permanent changes to the premise.
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