Amph The Seinfeld Chronicles: A Thread About Nothing (Episode-by-episode) THE MOVIE

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Havac, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Well, kids, I own the full run of Seinfeld on DVD. I've watched it through a few years ago, but I'm going to start watching my way through all nine seasons again and doing episode-by-episode reviews, and hopefully everybody can chime in. So, with no further ado, the review of The Seinfeld Chronicles, the show's pilot.

    There are two version of the pilot on the DVDs, an original version and a revised version. The revised version has the usual Seinfeld music. I can't tell you how big an improvement this is. It appears to be the only change, just the usual music and title symbol dropped in for syndication.

    It's not strong stand-up to start with, just observational stuff about being "out." (Not that there's anything . . . oh, wait, just "out of the house" out.) There's this bad 80s theme music, just horrible. Horrible horrible horrible. Generic and horrible and awful. I mean, it's just remarkably bad. Combined with the fact that the stand-up is completely forgettable, we'll just ignore this incredibly ignominious start and move on . . .

    The button conversation. It starts with the button conversation. ("You look like you live with your mother" is a great dig knowing what comes later.) For the record, the button is definitely too high. We're immediately presented with Seinfeld's lazy, conversational take on life as Jerry and George debate George's shirt button, before moving on to picking apart the romantic implications of Jerry's phone call from a woman he'd met, saying she's going to be coming to town. Then they move from the diner to the laundromat, where George complains about being bored and they pick apart laundry and social interaction again. Immediately we can tell a lot about these guys -- they're regulars (at some place called Pete's with a different exterior shot), guys who spend their day hanging around doing nothing, and who observe and pick life apart. George is a little neurotic, worrying about getting decaf, bothering the waitress. Jerry and George both pretend to be authorities, discoursing on all these little details of life like experts. "It's signals, Jerry, it's signals!" "You can't overdry. Same reason you can't overwet." It's not the best back-and-forth -- the waitress is really generic, and her bits just scream "standard sitcom" with very traditional punchlines and interaction, and a few asides don't go anywhere and aren't funny, just observational time-wasting -- but even putting aside the greatness that I know will come, I'm rather charmed by the silly, smartass mundaneness of the show's world. We're just watching these guys get coffee and do laundry and argue about a phone call, and it's delightful. The show's aptitude for wordsmithy is already on display: "Be a come-with guy," the overdry stuff.

    Then a midshow standup bit about laundry. Not all that clever, a bit about socks disappearing in the dryer that's not bad. The ending, wondering why detergent commercials show people getting bloodstains out, is probably the best of the comedy bits yet.

    And now . . . Kramer. Jerry is in his apartment (there's clearly not quite the budget for all the interior knicknacks we get later; there's also this weird glassy pseudo-porch extension and a ton of open space that's not at all the sort of crappy mid-level New York experience the show will come to stand for), eagerly watching the Mets game he taped, arguing with somebody on the phone who's apparently calling for the last tenant ("People do move"), when Kramer eases in through the door in his bathrobe. Yeah, Richards hasn't nailed the Kramer entrance yet. Nor does he have the hair. But he immediately spoils the Mets game for Jerry, then yanks two slices of bread out of his pockets and asks if Jerry has any meat. Perfect. There's one muttered reference to him as Kessler, the character's name in the pilot, but it's hardly even noticeable. Richards buries himself past the shoulders in the fridge, rooting around -- he may not have the entrance, but he's immediately understood the physical comedy essence of Kramer. He says he almost went to the game (whil
  2. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Great post. I agree with your conception of the episode starting weak and finishing strong. I remember so vividly the bit about guys in cars honking the horn because it's the best idea they've had. I remember seeing that line the first time and just falling on the floor laughing because. it. is. so. true. Jerry's little gesture for the horn honking is brilliant.

    It's odd to see the show without Elaine (it's possible, as the show developed, that she ended up being my favorite of the four main players) and with Kramer not quite all there yet. But you're right, Jerry and George enter fully formed characters. The way they are played here is the way they will continue to be played for the run of the series, more or less.

    The biggest problem is that the writing just isn't sharp enough yet. At least not consistently, though, as you point out, it has moments. The observational style is there and all the things that are going to make Seinfeld so great are already there: the complete neurosis of the characters, the surreality of the world that is somehow also the most real world on television, the way the show captures the absurdity and awkwardness of life all the way down to the tiniest details. This is what makes the show maybe the greatest television comedy in history; still.

    Great thread and keep the long posts. This should be obvious already, but I love a good long, in-depth breakdown of an artifact like you did there. That was great reading.
  3. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The two men/women stand-up bits, about the cotton balls and the horn-honking, are just wickedly funny. Really clever, and easily the funniest actual jokes of the show. The first two are really dull, but the last two stand-up segments really help understand where Jerry and Larry were coming from with the "See a stand-up comedian get his material, then see him do his material" concept. Which is really weirdly underplayed; for being essentially the core gimmick of the show as it was pitched, it's never really explained at all. You see Jerry in the start doing stand-up, and then Jerry talks a bit about "doing a show" with George, but the link is never clearly made at all that Jerry Seinfeld, the Jerry Seinfeld in the show, is a stand-up comedian and we're seeing the basis for the gigs in-show-Jerry is doing in all the little absurdities of daily life.

    I'm really glad, though, that they didn't make George another comedian, which they had thought of doing -- which makes sense, as he was basically Larry David's stand-in. To root the show that deeply in stand-up culture, I think, would have removed a lot of its universality, and George has a lot more potential as a guy who's funny, but not a professional comedian, just a buddy of Jerry's. He becomes much more the hapless but witty schmuck than the cynical funnyman. The fact that they then lucked into Jason Alexander for the role . . . and Michael Richards, one of the great physical comedians, as Kramer, and then Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, when they've got Seinfeld and David . . . what a once-in-a-lifetime nexus of talent for a show that, at the time, was really nothing, in terms of standing out as a great opportunity, that in fact looked like an avant-garde failure waiting to happen.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that I really like the concern with the reality of the world. In a lot of shows, with the button conversation, they might have just used an ordinary shirt and had Jerry complain about the button, but here we had a real shirt that, when you look at it, you do think, "Yeah, you know, that button really is about half an inch too high." Which is why some of it, like the rather large, airy, (and earth-toned) apartment of Jerry's, is so jarring, and the cramped, blue-toned apartment that we know and love isn't just more natural from seeing it all the time, but more real. It's an ultra-cheap-looking set with how spare it is (seriously, this whole episode looks incredibly cheap. I'm kind of amazed they had the balls to put it on national TV. I'd be embarrassed), but it's also not selling the tone of the show at all, and I'm not surprised that it went as soon as they could get rid of it and bring the apartment we know to life. To have both of the crucial sets, the apartment and the diner, completely different is very odd. Combined with Kramer, it's a sort of alternate-universe feeling.
  4. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    And now, on to Male Unbonding.

    After the pilot, the show was actually not picked up. But thank God for Rick Ludwin. About six months after the pilot flopped, Ludwin ordered a season of only four more shows (if Wikipedia is to be believed, this remains the smallest order in American TV history) of what became "Seinfeld" to distinguish it from another failed comedy that used the Chronicles title. A change for the better (says the guy who named his thread The Seinfeld Chronicles). So almost a year after the pilot, four more episodes aired. And those were enough to get a second season. Everybody, think about just how much we all owe Rick Ludwin.

    Male Unbonding was actually the fourth show aired (third out of the four post-pilot shows), but the second produced, and the DVD follows production order, which I will follow also. It was reshuffled because the next episode did a better job introducing Elaine, and to be honest, starting with the legendary The Stake Out was probably a better idea.

    We start with stand-up about men loving tools . . . seems a little out of his area of expertise. Then we get George complaining that "I have this sick compulsion to tell women how I feel," convinced he screwed things up with this girl by telling her he liked her after an awkward moment involving accidentally pulling a string of floss out of his pocket. I like the idea of having this comically goofy incident, but it's never explained very well why George would panic about a bit of floss. Then they go into Jerry's apartment, where we find Kramer on the phone, complaining to someone that big business is holding back the cure for cancer. So, we've got Kramer's whacko nature established right away, and he's out of the bathrobe already, but not into his vintage wardrobe yet. Just a sweater and khakis. Kramer then hands the phone to Jerry and says, "It's for you." They're getting some great subtle moments with Kramer's presumptiveness already.

    Jerry doesn't want to do anything with the guy on the phone, Joel. He can't escape this childhood friend, who he only ever had anything to do with because he had a ping-pong table. It's a sitcommy premise, but I like it, and it's got more potential than the thin woman-flying-in thing from the pilot. Great complaint from Jerry: "He's so self-involved." Immediately we're getting the blinded self-involvement of the characters themselves, though it's not yet apparent to the audience. Kramer then gets a phone call that introduces Kramerica Industries, and the classic make-your-own-pizza idea. Kramer leaves, and George tells Jerry to break up with Joel as if he were a woman.

    We then get Jerry doing stand-up about how he doesn't know how to break up with a guy. Guys can be friends out of nothing, but we've got no idea how to end it. The end of this very short bit, though, is that guys don't talk about anything except sports and women, and without them they'd have nothing to talk about -- which really stands in stark contrast to the premise of the whole show.

    We then get Jerry and Joel in Monk's, where Joel pays absolutely no attention to anything Jerry says. As Jerry mentioned in the last scene, he starts saying goofy crap just to confirm Joel's not listening; he's not. The guy's completely absorbed in listening to himself talk. Jerry keeps going on about taking a trip to Iran to perform for "The Hezbollah," purely for his own amusement, and right away we're getting another key aspect of Jerry's character: his approach to life as a sort of show for his own private enjoyment, where ridiculous, lousy situations can be enjoyed so long as you're talking a detached, ironic amusement out of their absurdity, and the fact that he might get caught not taking other people seriously matters less than his chance to entertain himself.

    After Joel rudely orders the waitress to make sure that their turkey sandwich is "real turkey" and not turkey roll, Jerry complains "How can you talk to somebody like that?" . . . which makes no sense coming from Jerry. Or maybe it does, in that Jerry's blind to his own self-absorptio
  5. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The Stake Out. Based on a real Larry David incident. Of course.

    Stand-up. In line at the supermarket. Women paying with checks for tiny amounts. Decent, not great.

    We open with Jerry and Elaine in the video store, goofing around and talking about movies. Jerry brandishes a porno at Elaine and they start making fun of that. "What do you think their parents think?" "'So, what's your son doing now, Dr. Stevens?' 'Oh, he's a public fornicator!'" In the little DVD features, Julia talks about how much she enjoyed being able to just act and dress like a normal person and make fun of stuff for a job, and how "racy" having a joke about a porn movie was. I don't know if it's just the retrospective, self-congratulatory nature of DVD features or what, but throughout, the cast seems very impressed with the premise of the show and with what they were able to do; right away they're treating it like it was a comedian's paradise.

    Anyway, she buys the porno as a gag birthday gift for a friend, and Jerry proposes going to the birthday with her in exchange for her going to a wedding with him. "There's a lot of people to mock!" We're getting eased in right away to the idea that Jerry's kind of anti-social and rather detached from society; he sees gatherings as venues to make fun of other people, but doesn't want to go anywhere he'll be forced to engage with people who aren't already his friends. We also get the establishment of their ex-couplehood right away. As an intro to the series, it's much stronger, and I can see why it was made the second episode aired, rather than Male Unbonding, which is probably going to be the weakest episode of the whole season.

    Elaine and Jerry then bicker their way into the party, with Jerry being insecure about not having brought anything and what he's wearing and uncomfortable with the whole crowd. Awkward introductions, but then Jerry immediately hits it off with another woman at the dinner, complete with "What have we here?" thought-voiceover. The flirting lines are actually rather stilted; they feel awkward, but not natural, not that prepossessing. Then some guy sitting next to her starts talking with the girl and seems to be her boyfriend, and Jerry can't do much of anything because he's got Elaine next to him. Elaine starts telling him about some silly dream with him in it, and then Jerry's able to get back to flirting. It's really not that great as back-and-forth, and then the woman leaves. He doesn't even get her name. On the ride home, Elaine complains that he didn't give her enough attention, and they get into a back-and-forth about whether he was paying attention to the dream explanation. "No, I didn't have wooden teeth; you had wooden teeth!"

    The standup is then riffing on the naming of the Platonic relationship; super-short, but cleverer than any stand-up bit since the pilot.

    Jerry then walks into his apartment to see his parents, who are staying over, sitting in bed in the living room. Apparently they didn't have a bedroom set yet, so the bed's just pulled into the middle of the living room and Jerry's staying at Kramer's. Jerry's mom immediately does the we're-too-much-trouble routine, then Jerry starts asking about how he should find this woman, when the only thing he knows about her is where she works. Then they start asking why he broke up with Elaine, leading to awkward conversation, with Jerry's mom saying he can't be so "particular." Boy, she should see what's coming. Jerry's dad, played by a different actor, gets in the great line, "It's a good thing I wasn't so particular." Then he suggests standing in the lobby and waiting for the woman to come out for lunch. Jerry kind of likes the idea. I like that Morty's coming up with these kind of goofy, Seinfeldian ideas too, not just the main characters. It's the kind of scheme that's weird and Seinfeldian, but you could also see this being a thing thousands of people in the real world would actually do in this situation. It's the actual absurdity of life.

    Jerry and George stake out the lobby; Jerry starts asking what he should say
  6. Drac39 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 9, 2002
    star 6
    Generally I think the first two or three seasons aren't bad because the show is consistently brilliant but they were more cautious in the character development of the foursome. George really doesn't get terrific until we realize how demented he can get.
  7. timmoishere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2007
    star 6
    So what are cotton balls used for anyway? Has any guy ever solved this mystery?
  8. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    Male Unbonding

    Not a very good episode. I found Joel legitimately annoying, which may have been a mistake or may have been brilliant casting, I'm not sure. I remember the scene in the line at the bank being better than most of the rest of the episode, though I do love the absolute cluelessness with which Joel keeps throwing out potential ballgames. I've had friends like that. Unable to take a hint, really. And Elaine's excuses are pretty good.

    The Stake Out

    Still, as you say, not nearly enough happening. But the introduction of Jerry's parents is a big moment and even though Morty isn't right yet, the mother is dead on and perfect from word one. There are little gems sprinkled throughout: Elaine's weird dream is hilarious and I confess to fond memories of the "Quone: to quone something" moment. But the big scene here is obviously the actual stakeout and it is a marvel; it's easily the best scene on the show yet and by far the most Seinfeldian in tone. It's pretty well entirely gold from start to finish and it's all just so absurd and awkward; in a chronological watch, this is the moment when you decide to stay with the show. George's deadpan "they can" is comedic perfection.
  9. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Male Unbonding is the weakest Seinfeld episode I can remember ever seeing. There's more to it than the pilot, but there's not enough to it, and the humor isn't as good. It's rather flat. But on to The Robbery!

    The only first-season episode not written by Jerry and Larry. Apparently Larry managed to solve some problems during production, though, which got him tagged as executive producer in the event of a second season. So, there you go.

    The stand-up is about the finger; why would randomly showing one finger make anybody care? Pretty decent.

    Jerry and Elaine are in his apartment; Jerry is great at packing. He's going away for a gig, and gives Elaine the keys to apartment-sit. George shows up; he can get Jerry a great apartment. "It's two bedrooms." "Two bedrooms? What do I need two bedrooms? I've got enough trouble maintaining activity in one." Elaine wants him to take it so she can move up to his apartment, then spends the whole time trashing how bad the apartment is to convince him to move out.

    Jerry comes back from his trip; no TV. Physical gag where he points the remote all over looking for his TV; fun. Elaine says his stuff got stolen. Kramer slips in his vintage wardrobe; "Someone left the door open." He left the door wide open while he got a spatula, then got caught up in a soap opera. It's the silly little details that sell this. Jerry, of course, doesn't have insurance. He spent all his money on the door lock, "the most impenetrable lock on the market today. It has only one design flaw: the door MUST BE CLOSED!" Jerry's high-pitched neurosis is great, and Richards already has the bouncy physical presence and spacey attitude of Kramer down. Jerry still has the habit of smirking and laughing on-camera, and there's a scene where Julia seems to be cracking up at something Jerry's doing offscreen; that inability to keep a straight face is going to be part of the show for a long time.

    New scene. A cop shows up, takes a list of what was stolen. The answering machine is gone: "Boy, I hate the idea of someone out there returning my calls." The cop is baffled. "It's a joke." Deadpan: "I see." The cop tells him, "We'll let you know if we find anything." "You ever find anything?" "No." Jerry's smirking.

    George walks in; Jerry asks how he got in. George mimes the I Dream of Jeannie gesture, then looks at Jerry with a perfect "You're an idiot" look. I like the referential comedy; Jerry and George are some of the earliest of the saturated-in-pop-culture characters who have taken over comedy. The lobby door is broken. Elaine pushes Jerry to look at the other apartment; Jerry agrees.

    Stand-up about being burglarized. You think the first couple times of calling the police, then realize it's useless. "It's not like Batman, where there's three crooks in the city and everyone pretty much knows who they are." Then riffing on costumed villains being easy to identify, and no one's putting the effort into costumed crime anymore.

    So they look at the apartment, and it's glorious. Jerry, George, and Elaine are elated. There's a fireplace. Wood is delivered. "What do you tip a wood guy?" There's a garden. "Would I have to get a gardener? Do you tip him?" Both of the others are way more excited than Jerry. Little bits of physical comedy. Jerry says he'll take it. Elaine's moving up to Jerry's apartment. We can tell, though, that George has realized he wants this apartment for himself.

    They're talking about moving. Jerry offers to sell the couch to Elaine for $150, acting like he's doing her a favor. Elaine counteroffers with $20. They bargain up to $50. George shows up and tries to talk Jerry down. If he's having second thoughts, George can take it. A lot of "I want if you don't want it" wordplay back and forth. If George takes it, then Elaine wants his place. Both George and Jerry now refuse to take it. They settle on a coin flip, winner takes all. The coin hits the table on the way down. "Interference!" when George loses. Bickering over the rules of coin-tossing. Choose for it, no disputes, out of three. George loses. It bec
  10. yankee8255 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    Great to see someone picking this up who has time to really give alot of detail on each episode!

    Season 1, overall, definitely is far from Seinfeld's peak. There's alot of out of where they want to go with the story lines and the characters. The pilot is OK and has its moments, though it certainly falls flat at times. Best bits are the conversations between Jerry and George, which are inspired at times.

    Male Unbonding, on the other hand, is just flat out terrible. Good concept that just never gets off the ground.

    The Stakeout, on the other hand, is one of my favorite episodes from the early seasons, mainly because they start to let the writers start exploring their characters a bit, and we get the first glimpse of George's true nature with the introduction of Art Vandelay.

    The Robbery is probably the most consistent episode to this point, never reaches the brilliance of jerry and George creating Vandelay, but does a very good job of taking standard sitcom stuff (there was a classic Odd Couple episode that dealt with robbery and Felix and Oscar considering moving into a high security building that The Robbery always reminds me of) but going in a very different direction with it.
  11. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The Stock Tip

    Stand-up about the check at dinner.

    The show starts with a conversation about whether Superman has super humor. Elaine shows up; she lost a grape on the kitchen floor and can't find it. I love this little stuff. Then Elaine talks about how she's allergic to her boyfriend's cats. Jerry is thinking about asking his girlfriend (the same one he met in The Stake Out -- Larry David has discovered sitcom continuity!) to go away for the weekend. Nice gag about Jerry and Elaine both saying "This guy/girl I'm seeing" instead of naming them, and the other one knowing the name. Elaine spends the conversation trying to hang a spoon on her nose. I love how dense this has gotten. George has a stock tip from a friend that's supposed to be a sure thing -- some company that's developed a device to electronically broadcast opera. He talks Jerry into going in for him on the stock, $2500 each. Jerry orders the tuna, and Elaine complains because of the dolphins. Jerry should do something unselfish and save the dolphins. He says he lets people in front of him in traffic, and that's unselfish enough, but she harangues him into going with chicken salad. George then . . . orders the tuna.

    Then we have Jerry and Vanessa inside a shop; Jerry's complaining about the guy behind them who talked at the movie, and giving him the dirty look. Jerry talks about having her come up to Vermont with him. Joking about how the weekend away is a pressure cooker that accelerates the relationship, then jokes about "Phase Two" of relationships. The scene ends with Jerry checking the papers, bothered by the stock being down.

    Kramer comes into Jerry's apartment, gleefully telling Jerry that the stock is way down. He's all "I told you!" and ordering Jerry to sell it. Jerry calls George to complain; Wilkinson, the guy who's supposed to tell them when to sell, is out of touch for days. Then Kramer starts complaining that Jerry should have invested in his roll-out tie dispenser. I see they're going with "Kramer as obsessed with wacky business ideas" as their character conception. Then he asks if he can have some random people he met at a rock concert over and let them sleep in Jerry's place while he's gone. "These are really good people, I'm telling you, Jerry -- they're anarchists, they're huge." Jerry gets the call that Wilkinson is in the hospital; Kramer just grins at him.

    Jerry and George are at the dry cleaner's; Jerry is going to sell. George says he's going to go to the hospital to get answers from Wilkinson, despite the fact that he doesn't know him, only has a friend who knows him. George mutters "Boy, I've got to get to a bathroom" right as a woman walks past him; she just stares. He stares back, only vaguely embarrassed. Jerry complains to the dry cleaner that his shirt is shrunk, but he doesn't have a receipt. "What, do you think this is a little scam I have, I take this tiny shirt all over the city conning dry cleaners out of money? In fact, forget the money; I don't even want the money. I just once would like to hear a dry cleaner admit that something was their fault. That's what I want. I want an admission of guilt." "Maybe you ask for it to be washed." Finally he gets the guy behind the desk to admit he shrunk it.

    Stand-up about the dry cleaner, and their only role seeming to be to ruin clothes. Then he just talks about "dry" cleaning.

    Elaine's in Jerry's apartment, complaining about the cats. "What do you think a hit man would charge to rub out a couple of cats?" Great foreshadowing of the episode where she hires Newman to kill a dog. Kramer shows up, grinning and pointing to the stock pages again. He's just got this childlike glee in Jerry's misfortune. Then Kramer starts looking through binoculars at women on the street, and runs off to talk with one. George comes in dejected and flops on the couch like a baby. He got thrown out of the hospital by Wilkinson. Jerry gives up; he's going to sell. George is "going down with the ship."

    Cut to this Vermont cabin, where rain has trapped Jerry and Vanessa inside. He's trying badly
  12. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The Ex-Girlfriend

    The stand-up is Jerry complaining about people who can't seem to settle on a lane while driving. They do piss me off. The final punchline is about traffic in the future being so bad we'll be going backwards. Not a bad bit.

    We start with George complaining about a girlfriend he wants to break up with; he wanted to love her but couldn't. Which is not really emotional conversation, but an example of the Seinfeld bunch's incredible pickiness and inability to take relationships seriously. The best bit is George talking about how he eventually had to tell her he loved her, after she kept saying it, and he'd respond with "Boy, that's, that's something." Of course, it turns out, she pursued him (ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha); he was never interested anyway. Did Seinfeld ever do a whole show based around the relationship of "I'm too lazy to say no"? Because that's a very Seinfeldian hook. "I had nothing to do with any of this," says George of the relationship. Elaine then comes out and complains about some guy in her building who she used to make brief polite small talk with, and now the "relationship" has degenerated through several stages of not caring until now she didn't even get the polite nod. And now there's unspoken animosity. George says she should confront him. "Would you do that?" "If I was a different person."

    We then get Jerry in his apartment, dialing; he gets a wrong number, and asks what their number is, to see if he dialed wrong or if the number belongs to someone else now. They hang up. He dials again; it's the same guy. Jerry starts to explain that this is why he wanted to know the number, and gets hung up on again. Meanwhile, Kramer comes in, the door gets buzzed, and he just lets whoever's down there up. He then forces Jerry, who has for some reason given up on the phone call, to try some cantaloupe. He raves about Joe's Market, where they even let you take the fruit back. Jerry's not impressed. "I don't return fruit. Fruit's a gamble. I know that going in." George bursts in, singing; he's broken up. George narrates the breakup through jailbreak metaphor. Kramer's response: "I like that Marlene. What's her number?" George wants Jerry to go get his books back from Marlene; he can't risk it.

    Cut to Jerry and Marlene in Monk's, talking during a book delivery. Jerry is . . . getting interested. She gets Jerry to say that they can stay friends even if she's not seeing George anymore.

    Cut to the waiting room of the chiropractor's, where Jerry got George an appointment with him for his back. Jerry's complaining now that he's stuck with Marlene and it's George's fault. Jerry's still ragging on him about wanting books that he's already read; "You know, the great thing, when you read Moby Dick the second time, Ahab and the whale become good friends." Jerry's upset that Marlene keeps calling him and making him go out to lunch and stuff, and she just goes on and on and on and on about nothing and it's impossible to get off the phone.

    Stand-up about the waiting room, and how you get called, and then . . . go to a smaller room and wait. Then he jokes about operating theaters with seating. "You don't want them doing anything to you that makes the other doctors say, 'I have to see this.'"

    Then George comes out of the chiropractor. He's been skeptical the whole time, and now he's outraged because he wasn't in there long, the chiropractor didn't do much, and now he's got a $75 bill. "What am I, seeing Sinatra in there?" George insists on paying half.

    Jerry and Marlene are in the car now. There was kissing. Jerry appears terrified of anything more happening.

    Then we're in the apartment and Kramer bursts in through the door and demonstrates his golf swing to Jerry. Jerry has cantaloupe from the supermarket, and Kramer instantly declares it terrible upon touching a bit to his mouth, and demands that Jerry return it. Jerry won't, so Kramer demands that he let him return it, and Jerry just gives up. Then Marlene calls, and Jerry forbids Kramer from picking up; she leaves a brie
  13. Kyptastic VIP

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    The scene in the car between Marlene and Jerry is my favourite part of the episode. I love that Jerry was not afraid to have his work criticised on the show.
  14. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Or even himself in general; the Jerry Seinfeld of the show isn't a very good person, and is frequently mocked and insulted.
  15. Kyptastic VIP

    Member Since:
    Sep 10, 2005
    star 5
    This thread actually inspired me to bust out my own collection and watch the making of doucmentary ont he first seasons, and it really helps explain what they were trying to accomplish. Particularly in that first season you can tell they're in part writing a one camera show like the original idea of how a comedian gets his material and it lacks the energy that would develop in alter seasons. In particular, discussions of the minutiae of daily life are the centre of attention here, whilst in alter seasons they generally occur whilst the action has moved to the background, allowing for that dissection of basic moments in life whilst not holding up the show. That's what eventually allows them to create fully fleshed stories for all the core group, which we then see evolve into all their stories generally coming together at the end of the episode. It's also interesting to note that the core group of writers for the first couple of seasons - Seinfeld, David, Larry Charles and Peter Mehlman - have no real experience with sitcoms, which at first creates issues with pacing, but, once they get comfortable with the format, allow them to take the show to a whole other level.
  16. yankee8255 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    I love George gloating at the end of The Stock Tip, a big step in him becoming the George we know and love (to hate).

    And yes, the Jerry-Marlene dialogue us great. Looking back, a big part of the shows success is Seinfeld's lack of ego, allowing the other three characters to really stand out and get the big laughs.
  17. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The Pony Remark

    "It's the law" that old people have to move to Florida according to the stand-up. Then a great little bit about, during incredibly boring family conversations, you suddenly get an urge to jump through a window just to see what would happen. One of the better lead-off stand-ups he's done.

    We start with Helen nagging the new Morty in Jerry's apartment as Morty just sits staring at the TV. Then they argue over picking up a phone call. Jerry comes in; he made a play to win a softball game and now he's in the championship. Morty brags about inventing the beltless trenchcoat. Helen wants Jerry to come to the thing with some distant second cousins that they came into town to attend. Jerry doesn't want to attend any more than Morty does. He starts complaining about Uncle Leo, who grabs his arm, "I guess it's because so many people have left in the middle of his conversations." And he's always talking about Jeffrey. "He talks about him like he split the atom. The kid works for the Parks Department." Kramer comes in to say he's reconfiguring his apartment: "Levels." Jerry is highly dubious. Jerry and Kramer are willing to bet. Helen wanders in: "I don't want them betting. Morty, don't let them bet." Morty just sits as they make the bet.

    We then have Jerry and Elaine at this dinner for a relative; Elaine is sitting in a low chair at a tiny table drawn up on the end of the big table. On Jerry's other side is . . . Uncle Leo. "So now the Parks Commissioner is recommending Jeffrey for a citation." Jerry tries to say they have to get going, at which point Manya, whose anniversary it is, complains that they're going. It's worth noting that she gets in a completely bizarre "Yay-uh" here, which sounds like an elderly Polish Jewish woman attempting to imitate Lil' Jon, and thus had me metaphorically rolling on the floor. Jerry's parents bring up someone who bought a horse, and Jerry and Elaine start riffing on horses and ponies in that no-sense-of-their-audience awkward style they bring to oh so many gatherings. Jerry remarks, "I hate anyone who had a pony growing up" . . . and Manya immediately exclaims in outrage, "I had a pony." We get reaction shots of all the other family members before seeing Jerry in abject horror. "Well, I didn't, uh, really mean a pony per se . . ." It's a hilarious and perfectly accurate depiction of that total, crushing embarrassment and awkwardness and misery of completely putting your foot in your mouth like that. "When I was a little girl in Poland, we all had ponies. My sister had pony, my cousin had pony, so what's wrong with that?" Jerry tries to back out, Helen starts asking if anyone wants coffee, and Jerry starts saying how of course everyone loves ponies and who doesn't love someone with a pony? You don't, says Manya. Jerry then tries to clarify that he's speaking about people with ponies in modern America, not way back when in Poland, when "I'm sure they were very common at that time. They were probably like compact cars." Manya storms out slowly. Jerry starts exclaiming to everyone else, "I didn't know she had a pony. How was I to know she had a pony? Who figures an immigrant's going to have a pony? Do you know what the odds are on that? I mean in all the pictures in books I've seen of immigrants coming into New York Harbor on boats, I never saw one of them sitting on a pony. Why would anyone come here if they had a pony? Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country? It doesn't make sense. Am I wrong?" He just keeps going on and on and on and on and on, only making it worse with the relatives.

    Back at the apartment, Morty and Helen are leaving. Helen is sure everyone understands that her boy just had a little misunderstanding. Morty, of course, is hilarious. "Hey, I agree with him. Nobody like a kid with a pony." Kramer shows up to say goodbye. I love this weird friendly relationship the bizarre neighbor has with Jerry's parents. He's decided he's not going to do the levels. Kramer refuses to follow through on the bet. "There's no bet if I'm not doi
  18. yankee8255 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    Definitely a big step forward in terms of plot development, going for something really morbid that no previous show would have touched. Love how Jerry really hangs himself out with the initial remark for the sake of being funny, which is what everybody expects, then having it blow up in his face and his resultant desperate back-peddling. And Manya really sticking in the knife with "You don't!" Jerry does a nice follow up with the "Who leaves a country packed with ponies to come to a non-pony country?" -- probably the best job they ever did of his dialog being like something straight out of his stand up act but fitting in to the dialog perfectly. And a great bit of dailog with Kramer on him not doing the levels.

    And that's what really makes this, and most, great Seinfeld episodes -- the combination of a plot that's a good bit off the beaten and bigl aughs based on tremendous dialog, which is really clicking in this one.
  19. Boba_Fett_2001 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2000
    star 8
    The Pony Remark is probably the first classic episode of Seinfeld.
  20. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The Busboy aired as the season finale, but it was the third episode produced for the season.

    Jerry is complaining about people complaining about food in the stand-up. He jokes about eating rolls off room service trays in the hallways, which seems just a bit at odds with the Jerry Seinfeld we will come to know.

    We start in a restaurant, where George is eating pesto. He keeps getting it and trying to like it. He never does, but he keeps trying it because everyone else likes it and it's popular and he feels like he's supposed to. Perfect George, perfect social commentary. Elaine hooked up with some guy from out of town who's coming back into town to stay with her for a week. Then George sees a menu on fire at another table and stamps it out. (No stampede for the exit?) The manager asks what's going on, and George says the busboy must have left the menu too close to the candle. Elaine jokes that she'll never eat there again. They then watch the manager talk with the busboy, who gets fired. George and Elaine are upset that they're responsible for the busboy getting fired. Guilt and responsibility; there are two feelings no Seinfeld character is comfortable with. Jerry, of course, gets a kick out of it; he's not responsible, so he just ribs them about all the terrible consequences of their act. George gets panicky.

    We then get Jerry and George talking in the apartment; George is still upset and Jerry still thinks it doesn't matter at all. Elaine shows up; she got the busboy's address from the restaurant. George wants to head over to apologize. Oh, guilt and neurosis. Jerry doesn't want George to go to this possibly-pissed-off stranger's home alone, so he insists George take Kramer. THEY'RE GETTING HIM OUT OF THE BUILDING!

    George uncomfortably asks Kramer not to say anything when they're outside the busboy's apartment. It's wonderfully awkward. The busboy lets them in, and just stands there with his chest puffed three and a half feet out, staring at George, while George apologizes. Kramer then butts in to say that George is "a hell of a guy," resulting in George explaining, "This is . . . a guy I know." Kramer then asks if the busboy speaks Spanish, and when told yes, asks out of nowhere, "Como se dice . . . waterbed?" I love Kramer. Kramer then asks for something to drink. The busboy gets upset and starts looking around; his cat's gone. Kramer and George left the door open. The busboy starts screaming, then does an over-exaggerated tough-guy act, and demands they help him look.

    We then get George, Kramer, and the busboy sitting at a table in his apartment, apparently having failed in their mission to find the cat. Kramer continues to not help while George apologizes for this now, and then Kramer breaks a lamp. George gives his card and leaves.

    We then get Jerry talking with George on the phone; "He's not stalking you." Kramer walks in; "George wants to know when you want to go look for the cat again." "Well, it's been a week. It's up to the cat now." Jerry starts relaying a whole conversation between Kramer and George, complete with copying each's annoyed intonation. It's a great little bit. Elaine then bursts in; she's fed up with this guy, and she wants him gone. She can't wait for him to leave tomorrow. "He's a wonderful guy, but I hate his guts." She just can't stand having him there. She's refused to have sex for five days, so it's just a giant, awkward, painful waste of time.

    Stand-up about airlines.

    We then see Elaine waking up; her alarm didn't go off and she needs to get this guy to the airport. She starts packing like a maniac, running around the room, demanding that this guy get up and get going now now now. His flat-voiced, mundane, totally uncomprehending protestations that he'll leave tomorrow, that he's going to the kitchen to get his bag of cashews, mostly coming from off-screen, are great. Elaine then attempts to forcibly put his pants on while he's standing up, and he starts asking where his brown sweater is repetitively. Elaine freaks out and finally grabs a brown sweater out of her drawer and
  21. yankee8255 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    Very good anaylsis of the episode, Havac, I really don't have anything to add (though I can't agree with your comment about the Chinese Restaurant).
  22. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The Chinese Restaurant is a great episode, but in terms of importance, I think this, with all its breakthroughs to the next level of writing that are going to define Seinfeld forever after, is more significant than The Chinese Restaurant, which is brilliant but didn't really revolutionize what Seinfeld was.
  23. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    The Ex-Girlfriend

    I've seen this, but I had forgotten most of it. But I know I've seen it, because of the fly-swallowing moment, which is one of my favorite Seinfeld moments of all time: "What can happen? WHAT CAN HAPPEN?!" I recall rolling on the floor and I'm actually laughing now just thinking about it.

    The Pony Remark

    A masterpiece and an icon. Moments that I'd forgotten until you mentioned them include: Jerry's death pillow bit and George's fantastic outburst about sex. I'm laughing out loud right now. The pony plot is pure Seinfeld; it really kicks in at the funeral as the minister rambles on and on: the pride of Krakow. And introducing Uncle Leo and the real Morty in one episode is some kind of perfection.

    The Busboy

    Like you, I think this is one of the most significant early episodes. It's entirely a classic; every single cast member is now on all cylinders. The George-Kramer plotline with the busboy is perfect Seinfeldian madness. I still remember Kramer's remark about George being "a hell of a guy" with absolute recall; I can see it in my mind's eye just now. And this is Elaine's best episode so far; Dreyfuss is coming into her own and her full-on manic packing spree/rant is just mindblowingly hilarious. This is television comedy as it should be. Even better than The Pony Remark. Plus, I cracked up when you reminded me of Kramer's "Come se dice . . . waterbed?" What genius.

    I am loving this thread and I continue to read every word you're writing here. And it's weird for me, because it's a recurring thread in which I get to be just effusively positive. I seem to be getting to be more and more of a crank the older I get, but in this thread, I feel like I used to feel when I had just discovered art and was just incredibly excited about everything. The magic of Seinfeld.

  24. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    The Baby Shower

    The stand-up is women and men and the remote and the way men channel-surf. It's weak as an observation, but the punchline, about ancient kings and pharaohs storyteller-surfing, is good.

    George, Elaine, and Jerry are talking about some friend of Elaine's who's pregnant. George dated her once, and is still pissed off that she threw chocolate on his shirt when he was in the audience of her performance art act. The best part is George complaining about how afterward, backstage, he spent the whole time sucking up to her still. "So, what kind of chocolate was that? Do you throw any other foods?" Then she left with someone else. Worse date ever? Possibly. "Whatever happened to the shirt?" "I still have it. The collar's okay; I wear it under sweaters." This woman asked Elaine to give her a baby shower; George and Jerry start riffing on the Kennedys, since her husband is related to the Kennedys distantly. Elaine wants to know why everyone cares so much about the Kennedys. Don't we all? Elaine then convinces Jerry to let her use his apartment for the baby shower while he's out of town, after he gives her a hard time. George comments that he's got to confront this woman or he'll never be able to forgive himself. "And if you do?" "Well, I still won't be able to forgive myself, but at least it won't be about this." He then gets up to leave before coming back and slipping a bill out of the tip he left.

    We then get Kramer and Jerry arguing; Jerry's cable is out due to some cable company dispute, and Kramer is adamant that Jerry get illegal cable; Kramer's getting the hookup at that moment. "You're pathetic. Just wasting your life. I'm offering you fifty-six channels. Movies, sports, nudity, and it's free, FOR LIFE!" . . . "What you're suggesting is illegal." "It's not illegal." "It's against the law." "Well, yeah." Richards is just perfect. "He's Russian. He escaped from the Gulag! He's like the Sakharov of cable guys!" Then, "It's the 90s, man, it's Hammer Time!" Jerry softens and Kramer gets the guy out of his own apartment, and he comes in spewing Russian and doughnut crumbs. Jerry is all paranoid that he's going to get caught, until Kramer tells him, "The Mets have seventy-five games on cable this year." "Put it in." The guy will hook him up tomorrow.

    We then cut to Jerry coming home to find his apartment full of FBI agents. They got Kramer and he cracked. The cable guy . . . was an undercover agent. Jerry panics and makes a break for it . . . only to be gunned down by the FBI agents. Kramer runs and cradles him as he dies. "Cable boy! Cable boy! What have you done to my little cable boy?" Jerry then wakes up on the plane. It's a great little dream sequence; it's a funny sequence, a good gag, that deserves to be played out visually rather than related as an "I'm going to come back and find my place swarming with FBI agents." It's also outlandish in its punchline, but plausible up until then, giving it more punch than some absurdist fantasy. We then get a punchline just as good; Jerry asks the stewardess for a drink; she flat-out says no. Jerry complains, and she says they're making an emergency landing in a blizzard. The little old man next to Jerry turns to him, shakes his hand, and quavers, "My name is Bill. I might be the last person you ever see." Jerry just looks vaguely disgusted.

    Stand-up is about fear of flying -- humans are afraid of it because we can't do it ourselves. "Same reason fish are afraid of driving." It's a silly bit, but funny.

    We then get George driving Jerry back from the airport. There were fire engines there, everything ready for an emergency. "But then we landed safely. They all seemed so disappointed." Jerry is impressed that George volunteered to pick him up. With some other friend, he'd suspect an ulterior motive. George starts chuckling nervously. He's got an ulterior motive. Jerry then remembers that he's got the shower at his place; they should go to George's place. George refuses and starts making excuses why they can't go anywhere else and they should at least drop off
  25. yankee8255 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 31, 2005
    star 6
    Alot of good stuff in this episode, but George is just on a whole other level, especially when he turns totally pathetic at the end.