“Now, Henry Winkler, there’s a father. Listen to what he told a close friend, ‘I don’t always keep my cool like the Fonz, but my love for my kids has given me plenty of happy days’.” – Selma Bouvier
While Homer was being menaced by sharks this week, I couldn’t help but think of that most damning of cultural epitaphs: jumped the shark. Isn’t falling into the ocean from a magically conjured motorboat, getting hit in the head by a bucket (why a bucket?), and then being saved from sharks by riding a whale at least as bankrupt an idea as having a leather jacketed stunt double on water skies jump over a pen that has stock footage of a shark inside of it? At the very least it’s in the same category. Sadly, Happy Days went on for six more seasons after that fateful episode, let’s hope this one doesn’t take as long.
Before that unimaginably boring ending, however, the writers had to reach deep into their bag of tricks to fill that ever more onerous 20 minute minimum. There was a long couch gag, a 45-second montage, a completely pointless dream sequence, and an “action” sequence that finds the cartoon trope of circling shark fins new and exciting. And even that wasn’t enough, so they had to kill some more time by having Homer regurgitate ideas that were too stupid to even be animated. Also, it’s generally not a good idea when the actual event you’re basing a scene on is funnier than your cartoon version.
I’d also like to commend the writers for dumping their opening plot line in an unusually abrupt manner, even by Zombie Simpsons standards. The opening segment is often totally unrelated to the rest of the episode, but they don’t usually completely abandon a giant plot conflict (the whole electricity thing). I’m not sure what’s keeping them from dropping all pretense and doing those segmented mini-story episodes every week.
The numbers are in and they’re almost identical to last week’s: 5.94 million people tuned in an hour early for Family Guy last night. That ties the number for 11th worst all time. Since the 20th anniversary crap wore off, Season 21 has been down an average of half a million viewers from the same period of Season 20. I’m going to keep saying this until someone listens: the show is getting historically low ratings. The 20th anniversary stuff will save Season 21 from being the least watched ever, but more people than ever are simply ignoring this show.