Shark Jumping is a web series created by married couple Beth Elderkin and Tim Sampson in which they look at hit TV shows we know and love to figure out where, exactly, they jumped the shark. To begin with, they have to analyze the show to figure out why people liked it in the first place, as well as to precisely chart their decline and the elements that started running them Off the Rails. They've also covered made-for-TV movies, and in summer 2016 they ran a series called Once a Pilot where they cover TV shows that either only lasted one episode or whose pilots never even got picked up. They have also produced a recap vlog for Once Upon a Time and a gaming-focused podcast called Easy Mode Go.
In 2017, Shark Jumping went on a months-long hiatus that ultimately ended with Beth and Tim deciding to halt production on the show, citing time constraints and a desire to focus on their personal careers. The entirety of the show can be found on YouTube here.
Tim and Beth are also both well known as journalists independent of the show: Tim is currently a writer for The Onion and Beth is currently the weekend editor for io9 and a contributing reporter for The Daily Dot.
Tim and Beth have reviewed and analyzed the following shows and movies:
- Saved by the Bell
- How I Met Your Mother
- Reality TV (specifically, the question of "can it jump the shark?", which they answered with the next episode...)
- Pawn Stars
- The Slap (the American remake)
- The Newsroom
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (specifically, a review of the episode "The Intimidation Game")
- ABC's TGIF block as a whole
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- Dragon's Den
- Beth Loves Joss Whedon
- Heroes Reborn
- The Magic of David Copperfield
- The Fairly Oddparents
- Fuller House
- American Idol
- The Apprentice
- The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story
- Liz & Dick
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (part one of their Rankin/Bass Christmas Special marathon)
- The Little Drummer Boy (part two of their Rankin/Bass Christmas Special marathon)
- Frosty the Snowman (part three of their Rankin/Bass Christmas Special marathon)
- Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (part four of their Rankin/Bass Christmas Special marathon)
- 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (part five of their Rankin/Bass Christmas Special marathon)
- High School Musical
- Cyberbully (2011)
- The Unauthorized Full House Story
- 12 Dates of Christmas (part one of their 2015 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of ABC Family Christmas movies)
- Snowglobe (part two of their 2015 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of ABC Family Christmas movies)
- The Mistle-Tones (part three of their 2015 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of ABC Family Christmas movies)
- Holiday in Handcuffs (part four of their 2015 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of ABC Family Christmas movies)
- Generation X (the 1996 adaptation)
- The Wiz Live! (part one of their 2016 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of live TV musicals)
- The Sound of Music Live! (part two of their 2016 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of live TV musicals)
- Grease: Live (part three of their 2016 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of live TV musicals)
- Peter Pan Live! (part four of their 2016 "25 Days of Sharkmas" marathon of live TV musicals)
I'm Tim! And I'm Beth. And today, we're looking at these tropes!
- Bi the Way: While reviewing The Wiz Live!, Beth admits her Perverse Sexual Lust for the female dancers playing the Poppies. Tim seems turned on by this fact himself.Beth: They also get blindsided by some Poppies, which are... nice.
<Aside Glance from Tim>
Beth: What? Sexuality's a spectrum.
- Christmas Creep: They go in the other direction with it in an attempt to justify covering Grease: Live as part of their "25 Days of Sharkmas" special, even though it aired in January.Tim: January totally counts as the holidays, right? Right?
Beth: Well, yeah, totally. Most businesses end up doing their holiday parties in January now, anyway!
Tim: I mean, yeah, if they're desperately cash-strapped.
- Couch Gag: During the opening credits of the official episodes, Tim's And Starring credit is always subtitled with "as <show-relevant character>".
- Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: The point of the two-parter "TV Doesn't Get Cyberbullying", which covered two TV programs that attempted to tackle the problem of online abuse (the Law & Order: SVU episode "The Intimidation Game", and Cyberbully).
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: The reason why they thought that the TV adaptation of Quarterlife failed. It was originally a web series whose episodes were about ten minutes each, and its pacing was done accordingly. NBC's attempt to translate it into a full-length TV series meant literally slapping together episodes of the web show into longer TV episodes, ruining the pacing.
- Dull Surprise:
- They relentlessly mock Carrie Underwood for this in her performance as Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music Live!.
- That's nothing, however, compared to how they describe Christopher Walken's performance as Captain Hook in Peter Pan Live!, which they call one of the worst they've ever seen in a live, televised musical. Beth felt that he looked he was "chugging Zzz Quil between commercial breaks."
- Elephant in the Room: Their review of The Apprentice has Donald Trump's foray into politics. Tim and Beth admit at the end that any attempt to look at the show without considering that was doomed to fail, as not only do they point to Trump running for President as the moment when The Apprentice jumped the shark, but they also see Trump's political career as flowing directly from his Reality TV stardom.
- Franchise Original Sin: They occasionally find one, deciding that a show had at least some of the elements that sent it off the shark ramp right from the start, or at least from very early on. Examples include American Idol's slow decay of its populism producing more Hopeless Auditionees, Heroes' Anti-Climax season one finale and thinly-developed supporting characters, and Glee's clueless aesops, tribute episodes, and Character Derailment.
- Gone Horribly Right: They see American Idol as a case of this and a victim of its own success, one that, as it got more popular, paradoxically lost its populist appeal as it became a well-known venue for talented singers to gain notice. The growing ranks of auditionees who were coming in with serious music training made it that much harder for the average Joe or Jane to get noticed on the basis of being a good singer due to there being Always Someone Better, so more and more of them followed the lead of William Hung and went out of their way to deliver bad performances in the name of 15 Minutes of Fame.
- Harsher in Hindsight: They describe Conan O'Brien's appearance on Rosie Live as one of the last times he ever looked happy on NBC. The fact that Jeff Zucker, the NBC head who got the show made, was also the reason why O'Brien got fired from NBC a couple of years later makes it that much worse.
- Homage: The opening of the show is this to the opening credits sequences of sitcoms from the '80s and '90s, complete with a cheesy Expository Theme Tune.
- Jumping the Shark: But of course.
- Likes Older Women: Tim finds himself only more attracted to Electra Woman when he finds out that her actress, Markie Post, played Melissa Joan Hart's nympho mother in Holiday in Handcuffs.
- No Fourth Wall: One complaint they have about Grease: Live is that, unlike the NBC live musicals it was following in the footsteps of, it went out of its way to call attention to the fact that it was a live theater performance, from the opening with Jessie J performing "Grease is the Word" to the many shots cutting to the audience. They felt that it ruined the Willing Suspension of Disbelief for the sake of showing off the production values.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Beth mispronounces Julianne Hough's last name as "Hugh" instead of "Huff"; the finished video had to include the proper pronunciation on screen.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Tim wishes that he had been making up his description of Rosie Live, if only so it wouldn't be a real show.
- Nostalgia Filter:
- Parodied in their review of Rosie Live, which they describe as a Genre Throwback to variety shows of the '50s and '60s, the age when a family could all gather around the TV and enjoy the same wholesome entertainment after reporting their neighbors to HUAC. They then juxtapose clips of Joe McCarthy with clips of Donald Trump and his supporters, as if to illustrate that some things never change.
- They also describe 2013 as "a simpler time" in their review of A Sound of Music Live!, a time when Those Wacky Nazis were just a thing of the past that nobody took seriously.
- Unintentional Period Piece below. Discussed in their review of Grease: Live. See
- One-Episode Wonder: Covered on Once a Pilot, provided the show even made it to air in the first place.
- Shared Universe: Because of their cameos and their inclusion on Channel Awesome, they're definitely part of the Reviewaverse.
- Short-Lived Big Impact: Their view on Rosie Live is that, for a one-hour special that tanked in the ratings, it had an extraordinary impact on television, helping to popularize the live musical on TV. NBC, learning from where they went wrong here, stepped their game up in the '10s and made live musicals around the holiday season a new tradition, one that the other networks soon began copying.
- Spiritual Successor: They regard Quarterlife (the original web series, at least) as an unofficial sequel to My So-Called Life, showing Angela's life after she graduated high school and got a terrible job.
- Stunt Casting:
- They heap plenty of scorn on Peter Pan Live! for doing this with Christopher Walken as Captain Hook, especially since, in order to do so, they broke from the stage show's tradition of having the same actor play Mr. Darling and Hook, which normally makes Hook a metaphorical representation of the Darling kids' fear of growing up — something that doesn't exist in this version.
- Because of the above, Beth isn't looking forward to NBC's 2017 holiday musical.
- Tempting Fate: In the opening of their episode on The Apprentice, Tim tries to cheer Beth up from her election-season blues by watching some "nice, mindless, apolitical Reality TV." Then Beth asks what show Tim has in mind...Beth: "...I hate you so much."
- Totally Radical: Their entire review of the TV adaptation of Quarterlife is about how TV executives don't understand millennials or online media, and how their attempts to pander to them often came off as this.
- Transatlantic Equivalent: Discussed with regards to American adaptations of British TV shows in their episode on the American version of The IT Crowd, usually with regards to how they don't work more often than not, citing Skins, Football Wives, Coupling, Absolutely Fabulous, and Viva Laughlin as additional examples. They have three explanations for why it's so hard to translate shows from the UK to the US: American television's commercial model versus British television's public funding producing more pressure to appeal to the widest possible audience, American television's long seasons versus British Brevity producing more pressure to create filler to pad out a season, and most importantly, cultural differences causing jokes that worked in one country to fly over the heads of those in another (they cite The Office (US) and Sanford and Son, which altered the source material for American tastes, as examples of how to avoid this problem).
- Unfortunate Implications: When reviewing Grease: Live, they had this reaction upon seeing that the production Bowdlerised one of the lines in "Greased Lightning", changing it from "chicks will cream" to "chicks will scream", but didn't change the line "did she put up a fight?" in "Tell Me More".Tim: So, basically, they kept the line about rape, but they got rid of the line that acknowledges female sexual arousal and pleasure?
Beth: <dismissively> Yeah.
- Unintentional Period Piece: One of the reasons why they felt that Grease: Live didn't really work as a whole. The original production was nostalgia for The 50s filtered through The '70s, and when Fox's TV version tried to bring that into 2016, the result just felt dated in the worst way.