Fred Fox Jr. admits in the LA Times that he is the writer responsible for the infamous Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumped the shark.
The phrase, “Jump the shark,” has entered the English lexicon and means the moment after which it’s all downhill. Other examples provided include The Great Gazoo joining The Flintstones; Vickie’s arrival on The Love Boat, and Obama’s appearance on The View.
Fox argues that the phrase, as pithy, inherently comprehensible and self-explanatory as it seems, is undeserved. He points out that Happy Days continued for many more seasons…many more episodes…and ranked among the more popular shows in television for many years after Fonzie went water skiing. That may say more about the 1970’s and American tastes in entertainment than it does about the quality of post-shark Happy Days, but that is not what provokes me.
Fox also contends that his career was not harmed by having penned the episode knows as “Hollywood 3”. He says:
Fortunately, my career didn’t jump the shark after “jump the shark.” When “Happy Days” ended, I went directly to the ABC Paramount hit show “Webster” and, after that, wrote and produced, among others, “It’s Your Move,” “He’s the Mayor, “The New Leave It to Beaver” and “Family Matters.” In 1987, Brian Levant and I created the action comedy “My Secret Identity,” which won an International Emmy.
THAT is what provokes me. This fucking scribe never had a “career”. His entire professional life – and a rank amateur one at that – has been one vicious assault on decency and good taste after another. The way this talentless hack crows about his resume, you’d think he’d written All in the Family, MASH, Roots, Hill St. Blues AND The Mary Tyler Moore Show while churning out comedy sketches for The Carol Burnett Show just for shits and giggles.
But no…he gave us fucking Webster (a Diff’rent Strokes rip-off attempt to exploit an undersized black kid who oozed cuteness) AND Family Matters (a Webster rip-off that replaced cuteness with nerdiness and high-waisted pants). It says something about one’s creativity when your latest project is just a retooled version of your last project, which was itself a rip-off of something that was mostly a contrived pile of shit to begin with.
I remember watching Fonzie jump the shark. I was hoping like hell he’d be eaten by the shark. It would have saved all of us a bucket full of brain rot if Fred Fox had performed…and missed that jump.