All good things must come to an end, as the saying goes even our favorite television shows. Classics from I Love Lucy to M*A*S*H to Seinfeld have their glory days on the tube and then disappear, living only in our memories (and on Nick at Nite).
Some of us with way too much time on our hands might ponder the moment at which even the best shows head south, taking a turn for the worse from which they never recover. Jon Hein and his college buddies at the University of Michigan spent many idle hours in the dorm talking about the decline of their favorite shows and coined the term jump the shark" to describe the crucial turning point at which a TV show heads downhill. The phrase comes from an episode of Happy Days in which the Fonz literally jumps over a shark while water-skiing in the Pacific.
A decade after he graduated from college and his buddies scattered, Hein created a popular Web site (jumptheshark.com), and he has now written a book that could prove addictive for avid TV watchers. Jump the Shark: When Good Things Go Bad looks at more than 60 shows (along with several new categories, ranging from sports figures to musicians) and names the precise moment when things began to slide. Some are obvious (When did Laverne ∧ Shirley jump the shark? When the girls left Milwaukee and moved to California), but many others are open to argument (Did Seinfeld really go downhill after George's fiancÅ½e died from licking her wedding invitation envelopes?). Whether or not you agree with Hein's selections, Jump the Shark is a great book for browsing and one that may prompt you to be on the lookout for an ominous fin in the water the next time you watch Sex and the City.