Buffy the Shark Slayer Presently (still) in the Top Ten list at Jump The Shark, BtVS continues to stir controversy. 694 people voted that BtVS never jumped. Over 1600 people voted that it did. However, not all can agree on presicely when and how...
For the uninitiated: It's a moment. A defining moment when your favorite show has reached its peak and there's nowhere to go but down. The phrase comes from a ludicrous episode in the tv series "Happy Days" when Fonzie got on a motorcycle and jumped over a shark tank. Many agree that this was the clarifying moment when that tv series went over the top and failed its audience irrevocably. There's a near science among some of the tv obsessed in trying to understand what precisely causes a given tv series to lose that shine and luster that it once had. People try to determine that painful moment when a tv show reaches past its bounds, breaks from its own self-made rules, or cheats its audience by going where no writer, actor or director should have ever gone before.
BtVS has suffered many of the telltale signs. For example "Same Character, Different Actor" goes back to the unaired pilot, when someone before Alyson Hannigan played the role of Willow. Melodramatic births & deaths are also often seen as a culprit, and Buffy has died three times. We've seen Buffy, Xander & Willow go from "Puberty" to adulthood, another sign that a show jumps the shark. A "Singing" episode has ended the fate of series like Brady Bunch & The Flinstones, but not Buffy. "Graduation" episodes. "Wedding" episodes. "Sexual Tension Ruining" episodes. "Special Guest Star" episodes. "Very Special" episodes preaching the dangers of sex, drugs, magic and rock n roll. Dawn was the show's "New Kid In Town" which again has been the kiss of death for others. The girls of Buffy have gone through as many hairdos as they have clothes but the "Fashion Police" never pulled this car over. Oz, Angel, Riley, Cordelia, Wesley, Tara & Giles have all gone "Exit Stage Left." Yet the show is still standing. To an outsider, the only thing going for Buffy is the fact that "Ted McGinley" never guest starred.
Other series have suffered far less, and failed to achieve more. Yet Buffy (IMNSHOD) has never jumped. Why is that? How has Buffy survived seven years? Or perhaps this is why Buffy's never achieved more than cult status? Because it purposefully turns its face into the wind against everything that previous series have failed to accomplish, and after the failed attempts at similar plotlines, the teeming masses are unwilling to see it done right and proper?
The writers of Mutant Enemy remind me of the talented comedic juggling team The Flaming Idiots. Rather than hide away and shun from the failures of their predecessors, The Flaming Idiots embrace disaster and have made it their trademark. Similarly, Buffy's writers purposefully laugh in the face of bad plot devices and somehow manage to make the most absurd possibilities work like gang busters. No wonder Hollywood won't honor Buffy with an Emmy. Mutant Enemy's peers are jealous that they succeed where so many before have failed - to entertain with a bag of tricks that in anyone else's hands would blow up in their faces!
(looks around) Hmm... sorry. Seems I got carried away in the "extended description" field. Anyone else care to add any thoughts?
January 20 2003
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