Helen Bach: Lovable characters lose their bite

The likes of Only Fools and Horses, Shrek and Last of the Summer Wine all followed the Fonz in 'jumping the shark', thinks Helen, a fate Fawlty Towers avoided

The likes of Only Fools and Horses, Shrek and Last of the Summer Wine all followed the Fonz in 'jumping the shark', thinks Helen, a fate Fawlty Towers avoided

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Jumping the shark...

If you haven’t heard this expression before, it was coined to describe the point at which a popular TV show starts to decline.

It originates from a scene in Happy Days when the Fonz jumped over a shark when water-skiing – this unlikely scenario sounded the death-knell for the once great show, and it never truly recovered.

Now I know this is almost heresy to admit, but I didn’t rejoice on hearing that Only Fools and Horses would be coming back.

However, on further investigation I discovered it’s only for a Sport Relief special, which is all in a good cause so is just about forgivable.

But without the late, great John Sullivan writing the script, I’m concerned how this is going to pan out.

Don’t get me wrong, I used to love the show, but I would argue that it should have stopped when Del Boy and Rodney became millionaires.

From that point on, I think the story lost its way and ‘jumped the shark’.

Truly classic shows know when to stop, leaving the viewer wanting more – Fawlty Towers is a good example.

Father Ted is another, although admittedly this was sadly due to the death of Dermot Morgan.

It’s unfortunate, but some TV shows carry on far too long, or some films bring out too many sequels – step forward Last of the Summer Wine and Shrek, please – so the original impact fades.

I may be in a minority here, but I didn’t like the Open All Hours revamp that appeared on our screens on Boxing Day, and I certainly won’t be tuning in to the newly revived Birds of a Feather.

Why aren’t we nurturing original comedy creations instead of resurrecting those which are arguably past their best?

Read more from Helen here.