Tag Archives: seinfeld

Was The Seinfeld Series Finale That Bad?

What’s the deal with all these posts about Seinfeld, 3.5 readers?

Ah, Jerry Seinfeld. He was that comedian who taught us all that you don’t necessarily need a punchline so long as you can offer a humorous observation. In 9 seasons, he brought us a show about nothing that surprisingly, meant something to many of us, not to mention how it added a lot of sayings and expressions to the cultural zeitgest.

Channeling Jerry. “What’s the deal with bloggers using the word zeitgest like they know what it means?”

The finale was greatly panned back in the day and there are still fans who despise it. Why am I even talking about it 23 years later? 23 years. Wow. It’s been off the air that long.

In the last episode, Jerry gets the call he has long been waiting for – that NBC has decided to resurrect his long defunct Jerry TV show. An earlier season saw Jerry and George trying to get the NBC to pick it up only to fail in a variety of humorous ways, from skirmishes with the actors to misunderstandings with the network prez.

Jerry, now a network big shot, is granted free use of the company plane, and decides to celebrate by taking pals Elaine, George and Kramer to Paris. Alas, a Kramerian goof up causes to the plane to have to make an emergency landing in rural Massachusetts. There, the quartet runs afoul of a new Good Samaritan law which requires bystanders to help those in need. The fab four sees a portly fellow getting robbed and rather than help, they laugh, make jokes – heck, Kramer even records it on a camcorder.

This leads to a trial that basically turns the whole thing into a glorified clip show. The DA argues that the 4 are by far the most selfish, self-absorbed people in the world, with a long track record of hurting people with their cavalier debauchery filled lives. He even brings in all the people who have suffered due to their shenanigans over the years, from the old lady that Jerry stole a marble rye from (in his defense, George really needed it) to Cidra aka Terri Hatcher who is convinced Elaine’s accidental stumble in a gym sauna was designed to determine if her breasts were real or fake so she could report the info to Jerry. (In Jerry’s defense, Elaine’s stumble was an obvious real accident because given the option, men have no problem finding out on their own, and frankly, would prefer doing their own detective work.)

It’s funny how time flies. I remember being very young when this came on. I remember everyone being disappointed. Yet, I also remember thinking basically the same thing I think today. How else could they have possibly ended it?

Larry David’s rule for the show was “no learning, no growing.” Seinfeld is a comedian’s comedian who truly believes his job is to make an audience laugh. It isn’t to educate or lecture or scold or give you a special message or anything like that. He makes with the ha ha and if you want a show where characters learn or grow, you’d better change the channel.

Ultimately, they worked that into the series. The characters literally never learn or grow. They start the show as a quartet of young schmucks and they end the show as middle aged schmucks. Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer all have their problems. They’ll be the first to tell you that, ad nauseum and in way too much detail if you let them. Yet, for some strange reason, they demand perfection, be it from their lives, their careers, or most frustratingly, from their mates.

George is bald but has qualms about dating a bald woman. George isn’t very handsome but has a problem dating a woman with a big schnozola. Jerry is a skinny health nut germaphobe and on the show, is a comedian who earns a middle class living on his craft. He’s a better catch than George but he’s far from perfect and rejects women for having man hands, catching gonorrhea on a tractor, having a belly button that he imagines has a funny voice and on and on.

Elaine’s boyfriends are more of a parody of what women have to go through – the schmuck who takes “it” out on a first date, the guy with a bad back who buys her an orthopedic mattress and she can’t tell if it’s because he is trying to give her a thoughtful gift or if he’s hoping to sleep with her and so on.

Kramer is the wild of the bunch. Is he so stupid he has no idea that his life is a mess or is he so smart that he has realized the secret that life is a mess no matter which way you play it so you might as well goof off all the way through it?

At any rate, though I admit the finale is rather lackluster, I’m not sure they could have done better. Could they have had Jerry and Elaine get married? Could they have had George finally settle down? Ultimately, as the jail doors close on the crew, the final joke is that these four are stuck in an eternal purgatory- they will never change their ways, they will never settle for less yet they will never get better enough to accomplish more (Which Larry David has always said is the source of his psychosis as well as his comedy.)

To the show’s credit, there is a moment where Elaine almost tells Jerry she loves him when the plane is going down, Jerry and George do finally get their big break (albeit as George says God would never allow him to be successful and thus why something bad happens to intervene) and it does feature the greatest Newman “I’ll get you, Seinfeld” speeches followed by maniacal laughter of all time.

Bonus points because it tackled the whole “why do people stand around, making fun of someone and recording them in peril rather than help them” long before cell phones with video cameras were ever invented. Overall, the Good Samaritan law seems rather unlikely because while it sounds like a good idea to demand people help those in need in theory, in reality, could an untrained bystander really disarm a mugger without getting mugged or killed him or herself?

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Credit to Jerry for going out on top rather than try to squeeze another five years, let the show get crappy while he cashed in. It’s not the best episode but I’m just not sure anyone could have come up with a better ending. The idea behind the show is that these people never get a happy ending or even any kind of an ending or closure. They will never change their ways and thus, they are forever trapped in a purgatory of their own design, a Waiting for Godot style life that they carry with them wherever they go.

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Some Thoughts After Binge Watching Seinfeld

I’ve been on a month-long binge watch of Seinfeld, 3.5 readers. It’s funny the things you notice when a) you watch it all within the same time span and b) when time goes by and you notice actors/actresses who had bit parts on the show who later went on to hit it big.

Some observations:

#1 – Co-creator Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame is in it a lot, but you might not have noticed if you weren’t a super fan. He has bit walk on roles such as “Frank Costanza’s Cape Wearing Lawyer” (actual name of the character, the cashier who gives George back a twenty dollar bill with lipstick on the president, a mad scientist in a late-night B sci-fi movie that Jerry is watching. He also does a lot of voice over work, people yelling at the characters from off camera. Of course, his big claim to fame is that he did the voice of George’s boss, the gregariously boisterous NY Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

#2 – Speaking of LD, it’s eerie how much of a spot on accurate Larry David impression that Jason Alexander is doing in the character of George Costanza, who is based on the Curb star. Poor George/Larry. Their whole schtick is that they are unattractive bald men who screw up constantly who, despite their myriad of flaws, can only be happy with perfect women. They know in their hearts this is wrong and they might be happier if they could accept women with flaws the way they wish women would accept them for all their flaws but their dumb brains just won’t let them do it.

#3 – It’s a rare series that gets better the longer it goes on. You can tell the showrunners are trying to figure it all out in the first 2 seasons and then it finally hits its stride around season 3-4. Early seasons, they try to give more depth to everyone and then they eventually hit the formula where it becomes quick and snappy and everyone is a caricature every situation is a parody of some sort of social conundrum that everyone faces sooner or later. Understandably, Jerry wanted to go out on top by ending the show after season 9 rather than go on longer even though NBC offered him plenty of money to keep going. Some of the most memorable episodes with the quotable phrases that became part of the pop cultural language come between seasons 7-9.

#4 – Famous actors/actresses who were on Seinfeld and then went on to hit it big later. (Hard to make a complete list.)

Dayton Callie – You might know him as Charlie on HBO’s Deadwood but he played a cabbie in the Puerto Rican Day Parade Episode who has to put up with Elaine’s indecision over whether she wants to stay in the cab and wait for the traffic to clear up or to get out and walk.

Breaking Bad – Walter and Skyler were both on Seinfeld before Walt built his blue meth empire. Anna Gunn was on the long list of Jerry’s girlfriends dumped over comically trivial reasons (George loses his glasses but while squinting, is certain he spotted her smooching it up with Jerry’s despised Cousin Jeffrey). Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston had a recurring role as Jerry’s dentist Tim Whatley, who converts to Judaism just for the jokes and brands Jerry a rabid anti-dentite for making dentist jokes. (Sidenote a young Debra Messing of Will and Grace fame is in this episode too.)

Mariska Hargitay, Amanda Peet, Sarah Silverman, Courtney Cox, Janine Garafalo, Teri Hatcher, Megan Mullally, Lauren Graham and the list goes on and on. It seems like every up and coming 1990s actress took a turn as one of Jerry or George’s (sometimes Kramer’s) long suffering girlfriends. I say sometimes Kramer because oddly, any woman dumped by Kramer just seems to feel lucky to have had the unlikely stud in their lives.

Meanwhile, Jon Favreau (as a clown), Bob Odenkirk and a very young Patton Oswalt as a video store clerk stop by.

#5 – My last observation is how many of the premises wouldn’t exist today. So many of the episodes involve the quartet splitting up and not being able to find each other in the big city. Today, a lost friend is only a cell phone call away from being found.

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – Season 5, Episode 2 – The Puffy Shirt

What’s the deal with puffy shirts, 3.5 readers? Why are they so puffy and why would anyone wear them as a shirt?

Kramer dates “a low talker” i.e. a woman who speaks so quietly that people can barely hear her. At dinner, Jerry politely nodes and says yes, yes to whatever she says, only to find out later that he has agreed to wear a puffy, pirate style shirt on the Today show (the low talker is a fashion designer and apparently, a bad one.)

This is one of the iconic episodes that everyone remembers and it portrays the great lengths we’ll go to in order to not appear rude and/or to fulfill an obligation, even if it is one we signed up for by accident.

Sideplote: George becomes a hand model and like Icarus, walks a bit too close to the sun.

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – Season 8 – Episode 13 – The Comeback

Hey 3.5 readers.

Don’t you hate it when you think of the perfect comeback response to some idiot’s rude comment, only you think of it hours, days, weeks, even years later? I’ll tell you, to this day, I’ll have an epiphany of what I should said to some moron…twenty years ago.

Alas, we never think of what we should have said until it’s too late. Even then, our mind is a controlled environment. We think a response might be biting, but in reality, we might flub the execution, or the rude person might even bounce off your comeback with an even better comeback. As the old saying goes, sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Not George. Here, Costanza is feasting on shrimp at a Yankees executive meeting when a nemesis says, “Hey George, the ocean called. They’re running out of shrimp.”

On the car road, the G-Man thinks of…well, what he thinks is a witty retort. “Oh yeah? Well, the jerk store called. They’re running out of you.”

George then makes it his mission in life to deliver this comeback, going so far as to fly to Ohio to bate his nemesis into insulting him again so that he can use his jerk store line. Is it going to go as well as George thinks it will? Watch and find out.

Sideplots: Elaine becomes enamored with a video store clerk’s pick wall. Kramer wants to find someone who will pull his plug when the time comes. Jerry squares off against a tennis pro who isn’t a pro at all.

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – The Invitations – Season 7, Episode 22

Seinfeld often poked fun at the futility of life, how we all try so hard only to eventually end up in the pine box sooner or later anyway.

Here, George’s fiance Susan dies. The cause? Toxic glue on cheap wedding invitations. George is to blame because he skimped on the invites, though isn’t the company to blame to? I mean, who sells invites with poisonous glue?

The perverse and creepily understated joke is that Susan’s death is a horrible tragedy, yet George is cool with it. For an entire season, George felt trapped. He didn’t want to marry Susan. He suffered from the delusion that if he just gave it more time, he might do better. (Briefly, he almost does as he meets a friend and mutual acquaintance of actress Marisa Tomei, who as we learn according to the show, has the hots for short, stocky, bald men.)

Susan is beautiful, charming and has a great head on his shoulders. George is a self-admitted loser. Not very bright, ambitious or successful and he knows in his heart he should be happy to have her but can’t help but feel stuck. Her death releases him from an unwanted marriage yet as the show goes on, he never does better. He’s doomed to be alone and unhappy.

There’s a secondary lesson here about how death is awful yet life has a strange way of going on. I’ve experienced it myself. I’ve lost people near and dear to me, losing them was like losing a limb and after the cries and sadness, you still keep living and it’s like, “Um, this is weird that I’m eating this sandwich while my loved one is dead. It’s weird that I’m watching a movie while my loved one is dead. It’s weird that…”

At any rate, George surely should have appreciated Susan more, though humor of the show came from George being an impression of Seinfeld writer Larry David, who has stated publicly often that his brand of comedy comes from the fact that he is aware he is a physically unattractive dum-dum and yet he longs for perfection in everyone else. He knows he can never provide it himself, but he suffers from the delusion that he can do better.

Bottomline – cherish your loved ones. If you meet a special someone, and you two love one another, do your best to make a go of it and stop worrying about what could be if you wait a little longer. Losers give up something good to wait for something that may or may not come. Winners realize they have someone great right in front of them and hold on.

A bird in the hand, 3.5 readers. A bird in the hand.

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – The Sponge – Season 7, Episode 9

It’s funny how shows that were controversial years ago seem tame by today’s standards. Does that mean it’s good to break taboos or is it bad in that we, as a society, just keep sliding further and further into the abyss?

I don’t know.

At any rate, this episode is all about a contraceptive device called “The Today Sponge.” It’s Elaine’s favorite method for preventing an unwanted pregnancy, but it went off the market. After scouring New York, she finds a pharmacy with one case left and scoops it up.

This leads to her being very discriminating in her choice of men. Apparently before, when sponges were plentiful, she went wild, but today, she really has to be picky. She now interrogates potential boyfriends in the manner of a boss trying to weed out the riff raff in a job interview. A judgmental person might say Elaine should have been this picky all along because let’s face it, sex has consequences and before you invite a person into your bedroom, you might ask yourself is this really the kind of person you want to invite in your life. You never know what might happen that would cause an unwanted individual to stay.

Sideplots: Kramer volunteers to walk in an AIDS walk. He does so diligently, but he doesn’t want to wear the ribbon, which causes turmoil amongst his fellow walkers. The underlying message is that it’s not enough to say you support something, be it a cause or a movement or in this case, finding the cure to a deadly virus. Society literally requires you to wear your support on your sleeve. How sad we don’t trust each other to the point where we demand that people jump through hoops to prove their loyalty.

Meanwhile, George tells Susan a secret about Jerry, bringing up the old conundrum of how, when your BFF finds love, you have to be careful about what you say, because you have to realize if you tell one half of a couple, you are telling both halves.

I recall this episode being somewhat controversial at the time – a woman just flagrantly flouting society’s mores, so concerned about her ability to bang baby free that she hoards contraception and refuses to waste her sponges by banging “not spongeworthy” dudes, which if you take the sponges out of the equation, Elaine should be setting better standards for herself and not banging dudes that she doesn’t see a happy future with anyway. (Men shouldn’t be doing this with men either.) I hate to sound old fashioned, like I’m denouncing people who bang willy nilly, it’s just that I think TV tends to show us the fun side of indiscriminate banging while not showing the negative consequences.

I think my main complaint with the show (everyone’s complaint really) is you do have to suspend disbelief when it comes to the quartet’s dating numbers. They each have a new love interest every week when even the most beautiful and successful among us never rack up those numbers. Meanwhile, few ever rack up those numbers without catching an STD or having an unwanted pregnancy. Few also get out of such a robust dating life without making, well, for lack of a better word, enemies. To the show’s credit, the characters’ lack of concern for the people they are dating often comes back to bite them.

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – The Voice – Season 9 – Episode 2

HELLLLLLLLO! LA LA LA!

BQB here with yet another review of a Seinfeld episode.

I’ve been binge watching the crap out of this and it’s amazing how it transports me back to the 1990s, a happier, simpler time when I was full of hope and being the proprietor of a blog with 3.5 readers wasn’t my greatest achievement.

It’s also funny how I forgot all these pop culturisms and things my friends and I used to say all the time. “HELLLO! LA LA LA!” was a way we’d great each other, thanks to this show.

Anyway, according to Jerry, his latest girlfriend’s belly button looks like a mouth, so much so that he imagines it as the mouth of a jovial, baritoned man, shouting, “HELLLLLO! LA LA LA!” and so forth.

Jerry and friends love the voice so much but like most jokes, it gets tired and overplayed. The J-Man faces a moral conundrum having to choose between a woman and a joke. SPOILER ALERT: He picks the girl, but only because the joke isn’t funny anymore, but alas, when he has to use the voice to save her from the certain doom of Kramer’s oil filled ball drop test (trying to see if rubber can hold oil under high impact to prevent oil tanker crashes), the voice is too played out to make a difference.

Is there a lesson here? Maybe it’s that sometimes, all you need to bring people together is a good joke, but sometimes that same joke can also tear people apart.

In conclusion…HELLO! LA LA LA!

SIDENOTE: It’s funny how Season 9, the last season, has so many iconic, long memorable episodes. So many shows become stupid and forgettable in their final seasons, having burnt out so much steam. Seinfeld really did go out on top, which I suppose is what Jerry always wanted.

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – The Betrayal – Season 9 – Episode 8

What’s the deal with episodes you forget? Even when you forget the whole thing, you remember a part or two of it.

BQB here with yet another Seinfeld review.

Quentin Tarantino started off the 1990s by writing all his movies backwards, starting at the ending and leading us to the beginning. Soon enough, every other movie and tv show was doing this, and this episode was Seinfeld’s experiment in starting at the end.

Here, the episode starts in India. The gang has traveled overseas to attend a friend’s wedding and somehow it starts out ruined. We then go backwards, to find out how did it and how and why with a sideplot back in New York where Kramer squares off against his frenemy Franklin Delano Romanowski. FDR(ski) is the only part of this episode I remember.

I’m not sure there’s a lesson here other than the gang acts like their usual d-bag selves, d-bagging on an international level this go around.

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – Season 5, Episode 17 – The Wife

Would you ever marry someone for a discount, 3.5 readers?

That happens here…sort of.

Jerry’s good deed inspires so much joy in a drycleaner’s heart that he grants our favorite 1990s stand-up 25-percent off all dry cleaning for life. Jerry’s girlfriend du jour this episode, Meryl (a young Courtney Cox) jumps at the chance to save money by falsely introducing herself to said drycleaner as Jerry’s wife.

And thus, the fake marriage begins. Jerry and Meryl experience all the joys of phony married life – the stability, the lack of loneliness, being there for each other, putting all the yucky years of dates that never go anywhere behind them. Alas, the also experience the pitfalls of fake married life, i.e. they take each other for granted, become cold and aloof and eventually Jerry has a fake affair with another woman, taking her clothes to the drycleaners’ behind Meryl’s back just to spread the savings.

My main criticism and…perhaps’ everyone’s criticism of the show is that Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer were not attractive or awesome enough to be able to court, catch and throw away so many love interests because, frankly, even the most attractive, successful and rich people in the world don’t rack up numbers like this. Thus, this episode is nice in that it shows a Jerry feeling happy in the throws of commitment, elated that he found someone to share his life with, even albeit on a fake basis.

Ironically, Jerry sends the majority of his babes packing over trivial, nearly non existent grievances but here, he really has no complaints about Meryl other than his desire to help other women save money on their dry cleaning causes him to stray from his fake wife.

Lesson? When you find the one, keep the one. Don’t get bogged down in thoughts of “Oh, the uber hot super hot hottie” is just around the corner. If only Jerry had turned this fake marriage into a real one.

Side plot: Elaine falls for an ass-face at her gym who acts like he can take or leave her, which counts for 100 percent of the attraction. This leads to a stand off when jerk squares off against George. George peed in a gym shower. Jerk sweated all over a machine and didn’t wipe it off. If Elaine doesn’t report one of them, they’ll report each other, so it’s up to her to choose who goes down first. Will she choose love or friendship?

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BQB Watches Seinfeld – The Soup Nazi – Season 7, Episode 6

No soup for you, 3.5 readers.

Most shows get worse the longer they go on, but Seinfeld was one of those rare shows that got better with age. Many of its most iconic episodes come toward the end, such as this one from season 7 where Jerry and friends subjugate themselves to the whims of the infamous Soup Nazi.

What can we learn from this episode?

When you’re at the top of your game, you can be a prick. When you’ve got something people want, you can be outrageous with your demands. The Soup Nazi makes the best soup in all of New York, nay maybe the world and with a constant line around the corner outside his shop, he can afford to send any customer who offends him in the slightest way packing. Meanwhile, customers who love his food that much are willing to endure the abuse just to get a taste of his magnificent creations.

Another Seinfeldian metaphor for life? Think about what you want, all the hoops you had to jump through to get it, how the slightest mistake took you off track. In a way, we’re all just customers in the Soup Nazi’s line, hoping we’ll figure out the right combo of moves to make to get ourselves through the soup line successfully and get home with a nice cup of piping hot soup in hand.

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