Jumping the Shark

**Spoiler Alert** If you haven’t yet watched the season premiere of Mad Men and intend to do so, wait to read this. The premiere had 3.4 million viewers. Mad Men swept the best drama category at the Primetime Emmy Awards four
four years running.

Aloha!

Last night’s season premiere of Mad Men opened in Hawaii, so of course it had my full attention. Thanks to Elvis movies (and Bing Crosby’s before him), Hawaii tourism was treated to a perfect storm in the late 1960’s of tourists arriving by droves in ships and planes to spend their hard-earned vacation dollars, and often, to get out of the cold of a mainland winter.

In this season’s opener, Don Draper and wife Megan do just that, as they are in Hawaii checking out a hotel property (Marriott) on Oahu as a possible new client for the ad agency.  Back in New York, Don presents his ad campaign to the guys from Marriott.

(So, I am wondering if you agree with Don’s take on Hawaii….?)

DON: I’ve just come back…and there’s a feeling that’s stayed with me…

MARRIOTT GUY: I’ve been there in the winter–its quite a shock coming back.

DON: Well put, but that could be any vacation. This was very, very different. I think we’re not selling a geographic location–we’re selling an experience. It’s not just a different place–YOU are different. You’d think there’d be an unsettling feeling about something so drastically different, but there’s something else…you don’t miss anything. You’re not homesick.

It puts you in this…state. The air and the water are all the same temperature as your body. It’s sensory. The music, the fragrance, the breeze and the blue…Hawaiian legend has it that the soul can go in and out of the body, but that it usually leaves from a leeward point. (Don shows a sketch of a suit coat, tie, and an abandoned pair of shoes, with bare footprints leading away.) The copy reads:

Hawaii…the jumping-off point.

MARRIOTT: What happened to him?

DON: He got off the plane, took a deep breath, shed his skin and–jumped off.

MARRIOTT (considers this): I think people might think that he died.

DON: Maybe he did, and he went to heaven. Maybe that’s what this feels like.

Okay…so what did you think? Many people seem to feel that being in Hawaii is like dying and going to heaven (albeit without the existential overtones that Don Draper brought to this scene.) When I worked as a concierge and saw hundreds of tourists a month, they would all get the same moony look on their faces in describing coming to Hawaii, or being back in Hawaii.

What do you think that “state” of being is, that Don descibes? Do you think, as he said, that you are different in Hawaii?

Oh, and as far as the title of this post, “Jumping the Shark”…that refers to a Hollywood term (created by Jon Heim) that describes the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins to decline in quality that is beyond recovery, which is usually a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of gimmick in a desperate attempt to keep viewers’ interest.

The phrase “jump the shark” comes from a scene in the fifth season premiere of the TV series Happy Days (Sept. 20, 1977) in which the central characters visit Los Angeles and a water-skiing Fonzie (Henry Winkler) answers a challenge by wearing swim trunks and his trademark leather jacket, and jumps over a confined shark. It is commonly believed that the show began a creative decline as the writers ran out of ideas and Happy Days became a caricature of itself (Wikipedia, Jumping the Shark.)

To me, Mad Men just jumped the shark when Don ended up in bed, yet again, with a woman who was not his wife. Seems to me that Matthew Weiner had himself a boring episode (who IS Sandy, the girl with the violin? And why should we care?) so gave it a jolt at the end to wake us all up after two hours of saying “huh?”

Even paradise couldn’t resuscitate this snooze fest for me. So did you see it? What did you think?

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

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One thought on “Jumping the Shark

  1. I love this dialog. It truly represents how I have felt on my 2 visits to the islands, especially Maui. I regret that I had to come to the decision that I really didn’t have enough income to make the move there. But I cherish the memory of the feeling that you describe, and I hope to visit again.
    Bob

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