Don’t Walk Away Mad, Just Walk Away

     If you’d like to speak with someone who’s a cast member of a television show which has “jumped the shark,” I’d like to refer to you anyone currently appearing before the cameras at “The Office.”
     I loathe the term “jumping the shark,” which refers to that point in time where a television series officially becomes ridiculous, wallowing in patently false plots, staffed by actors who are over-the-top with their mannerisms (think of Jack from “Will and Grace,” or Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory”), with no hope of redemption.
     The phrase itself refers to a 1977 episode from “Happy Days,” where Fonzie literally jumped over a shark while waterskiing, while on a trip to Hollywood. The ironic point about this is that “Happy Days” did not dwindle into obscurity after this exceedingly lame incident; on the contrary, it filmed another six seasons totaling 164 episodes. You can watch it here.
     Anyway, the term has become a part of the social lexicon. Apparently there’s an updated phrase, “nuking the fridge,” in reference to when the Indiana Jones franchise became ludicrous. “Nuking the fridge” is in reference to the beginning of the “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which for Harrison Ford is roughly analogous to Joe Namath suiting up for the L.A. Rams (coincidentally, the same year Henry Winkler as the Fonz jumped the shark). Good god man, at some point just accept that the glory days are gone.
     “The Office” has officially reached that point. The show, once one of the funniest on television, is beyond dreadful. It’s hard to imagine any business keeping somehow profitable when, literally, nobody does any work. For example, during this season’s Halloween episode, Jim plays a prank on Stanley after noticing that Stanley won’t notice anything. The prank involves a shirtless Andy, Kevin in drag, Michael with buck teeth, and Dwight of all people holding the reins to a pony.
     None of that was exaggerated. I wish it were.
     Steve Carrell is apparently a season late on leaving the show. Everyone else who sticks around should be ashamed to be picking up paychecks, none more so than the writers.
     There’s no shame in being a little less funny, but it’s embarrassing to watch the entire cast of a show, from production to the writers to the talent, try so hard. Certainly “The Office” isn’t alone in the history of television. “Seinfeld” last few seasons were cringe-inducing, this season’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is pathetic. Even the last few seasons of “The Cosby Show” were regrettable.
     But you can wind down a television series without reducing yourself to parody. The last season of “The Wire” was nowhere near seasons two through four in quality, but it had its moments and certainly wasn’t a continental shelf-like drop-off from previous seasons.
     That’s exactly what this season’s “The Office” is compared to last year. You never want to see a show stay too long at the party. Maybe someone will circulate an inter-office memo so the cast gets the message.

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