I pride myself on knowing when a TV show has “jumped the shark.”
In case you’re not familiar with that term, it derives from an episode of the old sitcom Happy Days, when the show’s most popular character, Fonzie, water skied while wearing his trademark leather motorcycle jacket, and literally jumped over a shark.
Since then, a show is said to have “jumped the shark,” when the writers have run out of ideas but, since the show is still getting decent ratings, it stays on the air. Typically, this is when you see acts of desperation such as celebrity guest stars, family members you’ve never heard of before, or, in the old days, an actor named Ted McGinley, who made a career of joining the casts of TV series toward the ends of their runs so that he could preside over their demises. He did this with The Love Boat, Dynasty, Married . . . with Children and, yes, Happy Days.
Anyway, as I said, I’m pretty good at identifying “jump the shark” moments and, more importantly, I am able to divorce myself from a show when it happens, even if I have been watching for several years. I am fully able to say, “That’s it, I’m done,” and exit the room, leaving my wife holding the remote.
And that brings me to a show that is on the air right now that you’re probably not even aware of. It’s called Salvation.
CBS premiered Salvation last summer, and my wife and I started watching, mostly because we were too lazy at the time to find a new show to binge. The show was about an asteroid approaching Earth and mankind’s attempts to avoid a dinosaur-like extinction event. The program garnered exactly zero buzz. Nobody talked about it. It was just there, week after week, until Labor Day, and then it was gone, leaving the asteroid still something like 139 days away from Earth.
I really thought my wife and I were the only ones watching the damn thing, and that we’d never hear about it again, and that sometime around President’s Day, the asteroid would wipe us out.
And then, much to my shock, and with no fanfare whatsoever, Salvation was back last month. The asteroid, which had miraculously not moved all winter, once again began hurtling toward Earth. And my wife and I began watching again. I’m honestly not sure why.
Let me pause here to describe just how ridiculous this show is. I told you it was about an asteroid approaching Earth, but that’s not the only issue facing the world. In addition to the oncoming, civilization-ending space rock:
- The former president of the U.S. is trying to stage a coup.
- The entire fate of the world appears to be in the hands of an MIT graduate student and an Elon Musk-type character named Darius Tanz.
- The graduate student’s professor is a Russian spy.
- A group of hacktivists is threatening to drop nukes on major cities (they’ve already blown up Kansas).
- The son of the Secretary of Defense was part of the hacktivist group and got killed in a police raid.
- The Elon Musk character’s company is run by a computer named after an old girlfriend, who suddenly shows up, upsetting his current girlfriend who, until recently, was dating the Secretary of Defense, who had been dating a woman who was involved in the plot to overthrow the government until she was killed . . . by his formerly current girlfriend, the one now sleeping with Elon Musk.
- The Elon Musk character has somehow become Vice President.
- A saboteur has infiltrated the bunker where 160 people have assembled while they’re waiting to fly to Mars.
- Everybody is sleeping with, or has slept with, or obviously will sleep with everybody else.
- A local detective keeps interrupting asteroid averting activities to investigate the disappearance of his sister, who happens to be the woman who we know (but he doesn’t) had been part of the plot to overthrow the government and was killed by the Secretary of Defense’s former current girlfriend.
- The asteroid itself was actually a weapon developed by the U.S. to drop on Russia.
I didn’t make any of that up. And I guess I should point out that the show is not a comedy, or at least, isn’t trying to be.
In any case, I’m sorry to report that I will never know how it all turns out. Because Salvation has jumped the shark.
I realize that any of the plot points above might have signaled that the we were about to figuratively see Vice President Elon Musk on waterskis, but it was, after all, only the second season, and I was waiting for a clear sign that the thinking was over for the show’s writers.
And then this happened: the Vice President is shot at point blank range (by the Russian guy from Arrow, no less–and they hadn’t even promoted a “crossover event”) and falls lifeless to the ground, only to sit up moments later to inform the President’s advisor (and his current girlfriend) that he was saved . . . “Thanks to a fantastic tailor in Bogotá.”
“A bulletproof shirt?” the advisor and girlfriend asks, because that would be the natural assumption.
Yes, a bulletproof shirt. And that’s when I said, “That’s it, I’m done,” and exited the room, leaving my wife holding the remote.
At least Fonzie’s jacket wasn’t made from graphene fiber antiballistic fabric.
See you soon.
P.S. I’m guessing the Earth will eventually be saved by Ted McGinley.