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Shark Jumping

May 8, 2014
Originally published on October 2, 2014 7:49 am

Inspired by a famous episode of Happy Days, this game is about "jump the shark" moments: that point when a TV show's quality starts to go downhill. We'll give you the moment, you tell us the show.

Heard in Episode 316: Meet Me In Milwaukee

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR and WNYC. We're here at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and with me is our one-man house band, Jonathan Coulton.

(APPLAUSE)

JONATHAN COULTON: Hello.

EISENBERG: Let's say hello to our next two contestants, Sean Horkheimer and Brad Williams.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: So we have two guys here who kind of both have super powers, I would say. Now Sean, your super power, I'm told - one of many - is that you can quote full "Simpsons" episodes.

SEAN HORKEIMER: Oh, absolutely. I'm the biggest fan of "The Simpsons" in the Midwest.

EISENBERG: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Can we have a sample? Can you give us a little, short one?

HORKEIMER: Sure. Sure. I don't know if you all remember this episode. It involves Krusty. Hey, hey, I'm Krusty the clown.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It was like I was in episode 203. It was crazy.

HORKEIMER: Doh.

EISENBERG: That was amazing.

(LAUGHTER)

HORKEIMER: That was Homer.

EISENBERG: Now Brad has had his memory studied by colleges. I'm saying this right, hyperthymesia.

BRAD WILLIAMS: The initials to that are HSAM or H-SAM.

EISENBERG: Tell us what this is.

WILLIAMS: This is the longer version of H-SAM is highly superior autobiographical memory. Meaning...

EISENBERG: OK. Now you're just bragging. Seriously.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: The ability or to recall perhaps, more details about a certain date or dates of the year than the average person might.

EISENBERG: OK. So if I gave you a date could you tell me something that happened on that date?

WILLIAMS: Possibly.

EISENBERG: Like just any date I feel like?

WILLIAMS: Well, yeah, that's, people come up to me all the time. It's like, what happened on that?

EISENBERG: OK.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. So...

EISENBERG: Right. Like a party trick.

WILLIAMS: That's right.

EISENBERG: OK. Here we go. How about...

WILLIAMS: That's what I do.

EISENBERG: January 23, 2012.

WILLIAMS: Well, let's see. Maybe there was a "Simpsons" episode that aired.

HORKEIMER: There might have been a "Simpsons" episode.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: I'm thinking, well, no, actually it would've been a Monday, so it would've been a rerun of "The Simpsons" episode.

HORKEIMER: Oh.

EISENBERG: OK. You know what? That's very good. I applaud you for that. And it was a Monday.

WILLIAMS: I do give the day of the week.

EISENBERG: OK. This game is called Shark Jumping. And it's about the classic sitcom "Happy Days," which was set, yes, in 1950's Milwaukee.

HORKEIMER: Eey.

EISENBERG: Introducing this nation to many things, like The Fonz, Laverne and Shirley, and the phrase, jumping the shark because of the famous episode in which Fonz actually water skies over a shark. And back in the late '80s that phrase came to mean the point where a television show starts to go down hill.

HORKEIMER: Yeah.

COULTON: Yes.

EISENBERG: So in this game, we're going to describe various ways certain other television shows have jumped the shark and you have to tell us which shows we're talking about. For an example, let's go our puzzle guru, Art Chung.

ART CHUNG: So if we asked what sitcom ruined its perfect ratio of three boys to three lovely girls with it introduced the devilish cousin, Oliver. You'd say "The Brady Bunch."

EISENBERG: OK. So let's just say that not everyone agrees on when these shows jump the shark, if they did at all even, but these are the commonly sited moments. OK. Let's play. Ratings for this WB college drama dropped like Keri Russell's golden tresses.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Sean.

HORKEIMER: "Felicity?"

EISENBERG: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Black smoke can mean one of two things, either the papal conclave hasn't elected the next pope yet, or if you're Mr. Echo, you're about to be killed by a weird smoke monster in this mysterious island drama.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Sean.

HORKEIMER: "Lost."

EISENBERG: "Lost" is correct."

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Were you a fan?

HORKEIMER: I was until the last episode.

EISENBERG: And then?

HORKEIMER: And then I was not a fan any more.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You rethought everything that you just went through.

HORKEIMER: I wanted my life back.

(LAUGHTER)

HORKEIMER: My entire life.

EISENBERG: This animated family sitcom jumped the shark in its final season when it introduced The Great Gazoo, a tiny green alien who was kicked off of his planet for creating a doomsday weapon of mass destruction. Hilarious.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Sean.

HORKEIMER: "The Flintstones."

EISENBERG: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Patrick Dempsey was fine in "Enchanted," but Dr. McDreamy made a smart move by not singing in the musical episode of what medical drama.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Brad.

WILLIAMS: That would be "Grey's Anatomy."

EISENBERG: That would be correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Winning the lottery would be awesome if you were a blue collar family struggling to get by but less so if you were a sitcom about a blue collar family struggling to get by. I guess nobody wanted to see the real housewives of Langford, Illinois.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Sean.

HORKEIMER: "Roseanne?"

EISENBERG: "Roseanne." Exactly.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: How do you top water skiing over a shark? If you're Mary Louise Parker, you burn down your home and ride off into the sunset on a Segway. Talk about a dope getaway.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Sean.

HORKEIMER: "Weeds?"

EISENBERG: "Weeds." Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I used a Segway as a segue, between seasons three and four.

HORKEIMER: Oh, hey.

EISENBERG: No look at that. Yeah. Oh, hey. I like that, Sean. Thanks.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: This is your last question. Just like cousin Oliver, the arrival Denise's season chewing stepdaughter Olivia signaled the beginning of the end for this family sitcom. But she's too cute to resist. That's so Raven.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Sean.

HORKEIMER: "The Cosby Show."

EISENBERG: "The Cosby Show" is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Puzzle guru, Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: Sean has clearly watched too much TV because he is our winner.

EISENBERG: Congratulations, Sean. You'll be moving on to our final round at the end of the show.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG, "LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY")

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing) And do it our way, yes our way, Make all our dreams come true. For me and you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.