jumping the shark

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 11, 2006

Have you heard it said recently that someone has "jumped the shark?" It's a wonderfully expressive statement, if you understand the background.

If I have the story right, the expression comes from show biz. It seems there was a popular television sitcom, in which the main character was a tough guy who could face down any challenge. For a while the show was very popular; the screenwriters put this character into odd situations and got plenty of laughs. But eventually they ran low on ideas, and began to count on absurd plot devices rather than snappy dialogue for laughs. Finally there came an episode when the tough-guy character went to the beach, found a shark worrying swimmers, and beat up the shark.

That was too much. Sitcom viewers are ready to suspend their disbelief for a bit of amusement, but there are limits, and that episode went beyond them. The sitcom's ratings had been slipping; now they fell off the cliff. The show had become too preposterous even to be comical.

End of lecture. Now a question for class discussion: When exactly did the US bishops jump the shark?

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 15, 2006 7:50 PM ET USA

    When Archbishop Gregory proclaimed, at the height of the Scandal, "It's history."

  • Posted by: - Jun. 13, 2006 3:39 PM ET USA

    Shortly after "Welcome to this first meeting of the USCCB." "Ayyyyyy....."

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 7:37 PM ET USA

    The USCCB series, entitled "Its All About The Children", jumped the shark when Cardinal Fonzarelli yelled "Praise Allah".

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 4:05 PM ET USA

    Hey, why are we buying into this? The USCCB has no canonical authority or tradition, so why does anyone give them any real Church legitimacy? I say the bishops "jumped the shark", to use the popular expression, when the majority sold out or abandoned the Lord just after the Last Supper.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 11:06 AM ET USA

    Epic scenes of shark jumping have been going on in the Los Angeles Religious Ed Conferences for several years. Sometimes the sharks try to dance, sometimes they just drink grapejuice from plastic tumblers.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 10:57 AM ET USA

    The USCCB is pleased to announce that they have formed a faith sharing task force to engage in dialogue with the Shark; to heal its wounded inner child. In the truest ecumenical sense "fish are friends NOT food", the USCCB believes that as a true Christian the shark should lie down with the lamb. Before bitings its head off and snarfing it down like a Pastrami on Rye, that is.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 9:05 AM ET USA

    When they starting telecasting the USCCB conferences and showed how absymally ignorant most of them were.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 8:01 AM ET USA

    The U.S. bishops crossed the Rubicon when they abdicated their authority to sexual scientists and theologians after the release of Humanae Vitae. Some may have been excessively concerned about popularity.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2006 6:51 AM ET USA

    "parochus", you're absolutely right!

  • Posted by: parochus - Jun. 12, 2006 3:10 AM ET USA

    The "Happy Days" episode to which you're referring originally aired on 20 September 1977. Since the American bishops "jumped the shark" nine years earlier when they failed to support Humane Vitae - thus inspiring a generation of dissenters - perhaps the better expression should be "snubbed the Pope," to wit: "Happy Days" "snubbed the Pope" when Fonzie jumped the shark. It was all downhill from there.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 11, 2006 11:34 PM ET USA

    This question is what some would refer to as a "target-rich environment". I would vote for Cdl. McCarrick's lie about the content of the papal letter.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 11, 2006 11:06 PM ET USA

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumping_the_shark Technically, the Fonz jumped the Shark on waterskis rather than dropped the shark with a left hook/right cross to the snout and naked rear choke followed by a figure four leg lock.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 11, 2006 7:36 PM ET USA

    The tough guy in question is the Fonz, from the show "Happy Days." The show, for all intents, was over when Fonzie did a motorcycle jump over a water tank containing a live shark.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 11, 2006 7:14 PM ET USA

    Yhat's easy! When they started playing God.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 11, 2006 6:25 PM ET USA

    The US Bishops jumped the shark when they approved the spinoff series "Chachi loves Chachi" for broadcast in our seminaries. Cost overruns came to just over $1.0 Billion USD. The Shark recently retired from a large US diocese with several prominent Federal politicians in it.