Has Don Quixote Jumped the Shark?

15 February 2011

Help me, Cassius, or I sink!
I am nearly at the halfway mark, and, if I had a time machine, I would go into Cervantes’ study, tap him on the shoulder, and initiate the following exchange:
R: Yo, Mikey. Got a minute?
C: (Turning around, fixing me with his bloodshot eyes) Si?
R: Whatcha workin’ on?
C: Quien es Usted?
R: Just another one of your readers. From the Year 2011.
C: (brightening) Me estan leyendo cinco siglos despues?
R: Yes, still reading you. Well……that’s what I wanted to talk about.
C: (turning fully around) Sigue.
R: This Canonist character. I was thinking. Is he really…..necessary? I mean, does he advance the plot in any important way? ‘Cause, wid all due respect…..I find him a bit……well…….
C: Aburrido?
R: Yeah, boring! That’s it! I was looking for the right word, but, you….you’re the great writer, of course. Aburrido.
C: (eyes welling with tears, clutching his head in his hands) Ya sabia!
R: No, no, please! Don’t take it like that! Everyone gets writers block now and then! You’re probably trying to figure out what comes next for El Caballero Andante and his Faithful Escudero, right? And while you waited for something brilliant to come along you sort of……slotted in……the Canonist.
C: No te gusta el canonigo?
R: He’s not your best.
C: Lo odias! Dime la verdad! Te da asco!
R: Mikey, take it easy! I’m just giving you my opinion! If you don’t want it, don’t ask for it! What are you doing? Put down that sword!
For those unfamiliar with the term, “jump the shark” comes from an episode of the long running TV series “Happy Days” when the desperate writers, having tried everything to maintain the viewers’ interest, had the main character water ski over a shark.
Even the best series seem to fall prey to this, although, haunted by the shark metaphor, today’s screen writers seem to eschew the more far fetched devices in favor of the more mundane. The Sopranos, for example, commenced it’s demise with the infamous “Johnny Cakes” episode. Damages, after an impressive first season, decided to start off season 2 by making the incomparable Glenn Close corporate witch character weep. You can imagine the MALE director selling that one to the actor who created the ”bunny boiler”:
“You want me to what?”
“Cry. You know, like when the Terminator asked Sarah Conner ”Why iz da waddah comin’ from ya ayyz?”
“Somebody call my agent! Now!”
But I will press on. It’s got to get better, right? It can’t get worse.

Rupert Scofield


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