Why didn't Hyde and Jackie end and endgame? I keep hearing things about directors or producers or?
Whew! That’s a pretty big question, Anon, but I will try to answer it for you as best I can. Let me just make the disclaimer that I don’t actually know anything for certain. What I can tell you is based solely on things I’ve heard, read, and surmised over the years. There are rumors about who the driving forces were behind it, but to the best of my knowledge, very, very little has ever officially been said about the decision to break Hyde and Jackie up (which is part of what makes it so damn frustrating!).
Sometime back in S6 I believe, it was presumed that S7 was going to be the last. Both Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher wanted to move on to other projects and, for what I can only assume was the same reason, longtime show runners Jeff and Jackie Filgo (who also wrote Moon Over Point Place and were the number one proponents of the JH pairing) announced that they would be leaving then, as well.
It was then decided (sometime in S7? I’m not 100% sure) that the show would go on for another season. Since the Filgos were going to be gone by then, brand new show runners Greg Schaeffer and Steve Joe (neither of whom had been in any way involved in the series before then) were hired to run S8. I wasn’t paying enough attention back then to have caught this, but I’ve heard that they gave an interview around that time saying that they never like the Jackie and Hyde pairing, and instead preferred her with Fez.
(btw, I have looked EVERYWHERE for some record of this interview online, but I haven’t been able to find one. If someone out there happens to have an 8+ year old issue of TV guide or something with this or any other S8 related interview, I will pay you all $17.43 I have in my wallet plus all the fics/gifs/edits/meta you could possibly ask for!!! seriously.)
Based on everything that we had seen before S8, I am absolutely certain that Jackie and Hyde were meant to be endgame. Back when the series was going to end at S7, I believe the plan was that they were going to become engaged in the finale (which was why they spent so much time on all the marriage melodrama between them that year). My guess is that, when it was announced that there would be a S8, the Chicago/Kelso storyline was written not with the intention of breaking them up for good, but to give the S8 show runners enough material to draw out the story leading up to their engagement for another season. If the writers had gone through with the original engagement story in the S7 finale, we might have spent S8 watching Jackie and Hyde deal with that and *gasp* might have even seen their wedding. (Please excuse me while I go die in a corner over grief for all the missed opportunities there were.) Unfortunately, the way the original show runners left it only gave the new show runners the opportunity to take the pairing out back in shoot it in the head.
Now… there is also a rumor that Wilmer Valderrama only agreed to come back for S8 on the condition that he would be paired with one of the two girls. Though I have absolutely no evidence to support this, that coupled with the interview (that I really really really need to get my hands on!!!) in which the show runners stated they preferred Jackie with Fez is the only explanation I have been able to find for why she and Hyde were broken up. Though Fez had crush on her waaaaaaaay back in S1, 2, and 3, it never went anywhere. Jackie and Hyde on the other hand had been building gradually since S1 and, despite their breakup mid-S7, the writers were dropping hints that they were endgame right up until the very end. Short of his early, unrequited crush on her, there was so little evidence in the first seven seasons to support the idea that Jackie was always meant to end up with Fez that, if it weren’t so depressing, it would be downright laughable that the S8 show runners even tried to convince us of that.
It’s ironic that Fez spoofed the Happy Days episode in which Fonzie jumped over the shark in Jackie Says Cheese since that’s precisely what his overnight transformation from lovable goofball into skeevy ladies man/Jackie’s Prince Charming did for That ’70s Show. I totally understand (and agree with!) Wilmer’s desire to be given more to do than just the “weird foreign guy” schtick they’d been writing for him since the pilot episode, but there were plenty of other ways they could have done that for him that wouldn’t have resulted in the OOC nightmare we saw in S8. Instead, the whole season was written with so little finesse or respect for everything that had come before it that the end result was nothing but a slap in the face to anyone who has even the most rudimentary grasp of basic storytelling. The audience was already having to adjust to both Eric and Kelso’s absence, and so the smart thing would have been for them to have kept at least one thing relatively constant - but by breaking up Hyde and Jackie, everything was thrown off kilter. It may have started with Wilmer’s insistence that Fez get a reboot, but no one in my opinion was written in character that year - not even Red and Kitty.
Very little has ever been said about S8 since it aired, but of the few people to speak out about it, Danny Masterson has always and still expresses annoyance that Jackie and Hyde were broken up, and in his commentary for Till the Next Goodbye, longtime director David Trainer went so far as to call the whole season AU.
As to why complete control of a long-running, highly successful TV show like That ’70s Show that was already going through a difficult transition due to the departure of two of it’s cast members was given to two complete newcomers (and not immediately snatched back when it became obvious that they were running it into the ground), I will never, ever, ever understand. I’d like to think that creators Terry and Bonnie Turner and Mark Brazill would have had something to say about the slow motion train wreck that was happening in S8, but if you check both IMDB and Wikipedia, they had gone from being credited as both the creators and writers for the show to “creative consultants” which, according to a friend of mine in the film industry, is basically just a courtesy credit given to the original creators of something who are no longer involved with the current project. From what I can tell, it seemed like they just dropped the ball one afternoon and never looked back.
Bottom line, though I don’t have the kind of tangible proof one would’ve needed to be in the writers room that year to have, it’s pretty clear to me that S8 was not meant to go down as it did. Unfortunately, by the time it happened everyone was so tired of the show and ready to move on to something new that, rather than try to salvage it, they just let it fall apart. Sad, but there ya go.
As far as I’m concerned, S8 is not a part of the series’ canon. Some people are able to stomach it, but in my mind (and David Trainer’s) the show lasted seven seasons with an eighth bonus season that isn’t the least bit worth watching. Instead, I go by what I’m almost positive was meant to be the original ending, and stop watching somewhere between Take It or Leave It and just before the last 15 seconds of Till the Next Goodbye. All three of those “alternate endings” fit in much more neatly with the rest of the series, and leave me much, much happier at the end of the day.
Ok, I think that covers everything… I hope that answered your question! Sorry it was so long. You may have noticed I tend to ramble when I get on a roll, and bitching about S8 will always get me on a roll.
THE TERM “JUMP THE SHARK” DESCRIBES THE POINT IN A TELEVISION SHOW WHERE IT STOPS CREATIVELY DEVELOPING AND STARTS TO BECOME A SELF-REFERENTIAL CARICATURE OF ITSELF. THIS IS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH A SHARP DECLINE IN QUALITY.
THE PHRASE ITSELF REFERS TO AN EPISODE OF “HAPPY DAYS” SET AT THE BEACH IN WHICH ARTHUR HERBERT “FONZIE” FONZARELLI JUMPS OVER A SHARK WHILE WATERSKIING. THE WRITER OF THAT EPISODE HATES THIS PHRASE, POINTING TO THE POSITIVE RECEPTION OF THE EPISODE AND THE FACT THAT HAPPY DAYS CONTINUED FOR MANY SEASONS AFTERWARDS. HENRY WINKLER, THE ACTOR WHO PLAYED FONZIE, LOVES IT BECAUSE WHENEVER IT’S MENTIONED IN AN ARTICLE, THEY USE THE SAME STILL FRAME OF THAT EPISODE WHERE HE IS IN A SWIMSUIT AND HE LIKES THE WAY HIS LEGS LOOK IN THAT PHOTOGRAPH.
THE OPPOSITE OF JUMPING THE SHARK IS “GROWING THE BEARD,” OR A POINT WHERE A SHOW’S QUALITY DRAMATICALLY INCREASES, AND IF IT’S A SPIN-OFF, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT STARTS FEELING LIKE ITS OWN SHOW AND NOT SIMPLY AN EXTENSION OF THE PARENT SHOW.
THIS TERM IS NAMED AFTER STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, IN WHICH THE MOMENT THE SHOW WAS GENERALLY CONSIDERED TO HAVE COME INTO ITS OWN ROUGHLY CORRESPONDED TO THE BREAK BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS, DURING WHICH TIME ACTOR JONATHAN FRAKES WOULD GROW HIS CHARACTER’S NOW-ICONIC BEARD.
ANOTHER DERIVATIVE IS A TERM FOR WHEN A GOOD FILM’S SEQUELS HAVE BECOME SO RIDICULOUS THAT PEOPLE GENERALLY ACCEPT THAT IT’S TIME TO ALLOW THE FRANCHISE TO DIE. THIS TERM IS “NUKING THE FRIDGE” AND REFERS TO A PART OF INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL WHERE INDIANA JONES SURVIVES AN ATOMIC BOMB BY HIDING IN A LEAD-LINED REFRIGERATOR.