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January 31, 2009

Are you getting a little weary of Sully-mania? Is the Sully story about to "jump the shark"?

To be honest, I am getting a bit weary of all the hype, especially after reading in the CoCo Times this morning that Danville's own "Hero on the Hudson," pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger and the entire crew of the distressed US Airways Flight 1549, will be honored just before the start of tomorrow's Superbowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida.

And then we'll have the drumbeat of promos for Katie Couric's big interview with Sully and the crew on 60 Minutes on February 8.

Yes, I know, I know. I'm being a sulky, curmudgeonly and even anti-American.


I know, I know: Sullenberger performed what amounts to a modern-day miracle by landing that distressed airplane, with its two failed engines, on the Hudson River. He avoided crashing into Manhattan, and he saved the lives of 155 passengers and crew members. Of course, as Sully likes to humbly say, he and his crew were just doing the job they were trained to do.


Still, I can't help but feel that something my co-worker said might be on target: that the Sully story is about to "jump the shark." That term is used by TV critics and fans to denote that point at which a long popular TV show or movie series' has passed its peak in creativity, originality, and general appeal. With regard to TV shows, a series "jumps the shark" when its plot veers off into absurd story lines and out-of-ordinary characterizations, usually to boost sagging ratings, because the show has basically started to wear out its welcome. It happens to the best of shows. I'm sure you can all name a dozen right now.


The term originates from the 1950s-nostalgia sitcom Happy Days that ran from 1974-1984 and to a particular episode that aired in 1977. In that episode, the biker anti-hero Fonzie, wearing swim trucks and his trademark leather jacket, jumps over a penned-in shark while water skiing. The shark-jumping was part of a stunt that the Fonz performed during a three-episode Happy Days goes to Hollywood ratings-booster special.


Reportedly, the first public use of the phrase occurred in 1997, when Jon Heim, now a regular on Howard Stern's satellite radio show, launched his jumptheshark.com website. Heim sold the site for lots of money, and it's now owned by TV Guide. It's been a while since I visited the site, mainly because it used to be a major time-suck, especially for someone like me, who in my life before marriage, parenthood and now blogging, used to watch a wee bit too much TV. On Heim's version of jumptheshark.com, you could look up favorite old TV shows and read message boards, full of fan opinions on when a particular show "jumped the shark."

Anyway, back to Captain Sully. Last week, I attended the celebration in Danville at which the pilot was presented with the key to the town and named an honorary member of the Danville police force. Sully's wife, Lorrie, spoke of her love for her husband and her love for Danville. Sully spoke briefly, showing himself to be a distinguished, modest man who takes pride in doing his job well and in living in the East Bay. The celebration was both classy and full of genuine, small-town heart.


Now after reading about this pre-game tribute, and anticipating the 60 Minutes interview, I'm getting a little antsy about Sully-mania. No doubt Sully-mania will continue with the inevitable continued coverage of Sully over the next few weeks and months, especially in the local media, as they scramble for their post Katie Couric interview. And, wouldn't be surprised to read that there is a book and movie deal with the works.


Still, I have to wonder whether the Sully story will go on too long, wear out its welcome, and "jump the shark."

4 comments:

Radar said...

I agree with you its time to slow down the Sully PR machine. I was out there taking photos of the welcome home in Danville for Claycord too.

Radar said...

I know I am and I was out at the welcome home Sully talking pics for Claycord!

Soccer Mom said...

Radar,
It's very good to get your thoughts on this. I know you were out photographing the big event in Danville. Great photos, by the way, that you did for Claycord. I told the Mayor to pass along a note to you in regards to that.

It seems like the Danville event was the pinnacle of Sully-mania, the great perfect moment of grace and celebration, and the rest might be, well, what's the term--I'm having a senior moment here--milking it. Who's doing the milking, I'm not sure ... I can imagine this is all pretty overwhelming for Sully and family, but I hope they get some wise, careful advice.

Take care Radar and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Maybe you've heard too much about it because you're in the area he's from. I don't know if everyone else out there is tired of him yet. He hasn't even been interviewed, so maybe people are still on the edge of their seats. Even if there was brief national mention of his heroes welcome home, you might not have even noticed it if it hadn't taken place in danville. The super bowl seems like a somewhat appropriate place to honor him nationally, since it's likely the next national event. It does sound cheesy, but maybe the guy deserves his national heroes welcome too.