Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Season 3, Episode 12: The Suicide

“A plane crash? A heart attack? Lupus? Is it Lupus???” - George

The Suicide marks our introduction to Newman. He previously appeared as a voice (played by disembodied voice extraordinaire, Larry David). This marks his first physical appearance, as played by Wayne Knight. The original idea for Newman didn’t call for him to be a recurring character. But Knight was so great they decided to bring him back.

The Suicide opens with Jerry and Elaine at the apartment. They’re about to head out to dinner, which will be the last meal Elaine has for three days as she prepared to take an ulcer exam. Over the course of the episode she becomes more and more ravenous and psychotic with each passing scene.

As Elaine scarfs down whatever is in front of her, Jerry takes out the trash and runs into George in the hall. He asks him to take out the garbage for him. George scoffs and continues to walk toward the apartment. Jerry presses him to do it. “It’s just down the hall.” George mulls it over a second.
“Give me two bucks. I’ll do it for two bucks.”
“I’ll give you 50 cents,” Jerry haggles.
“There’s no way I touch that bag for less than two dollars.”
Jerry says for 50 cents George can get a Drake’s coffee cake, which, as a West coast guy, I have no frame of reference for. I assumed (correctly) that this was an actual thing since they like to refer to real products (like the Junior Mints). Drake’s Coffee Cake is a Northeast/Atlantic thing. And since these DVDs are 10 years old, I have no idea if they’re still made.

George is all set for his vacation to the Cayman Islands. “Who goes on vacation without a job?” Jerry asks rhetorically. “What, do you need a break from getting up at eleven?”

Still in the hall, Jerry’s neighbor, Gina, comes out. She flirts with him for just a second, but it’s one second too much as her boyfriend comes out and catches Gina touching Jerry’s shoulder. An innocent gesture, but not to the boyfriend. Gina leaves and Jerry decides to leave the trash outside Kramer’s apartment. He knocks on Kramer’s door and quickly ducks inside his own apartment. Kramer opens his door, looks down the hall, sees the trash, picks up the bag, and brings it inside.

Inside Jerry’s apartment, George remembers having a dream involving Gina’s boyfriend. He mentions that several paranormal things have happened to him. Elaine suggests he go to a psychic.

Jerry is woken up at 3am by Gina banging on his door. Martin, her boyfriend, tried to commit suicide by taking a bunch of pills. At the hospital, Gina explains to Jerry that Martin tried to kill himself because Gina told him it was over between them after he became jealous at other men looking and talking to her, especially Jerry. Gina tells Jerry that she is attracted to him. This, while Martin is in a coma two feet away. “Are you sure he can’t hear us?” a suddenly worried Jerry asks. “Martin! MARTIN!!”

Gina wants to kiss Jerry, who is feeling a just a bit uncomfortable with that. What kind of man is afraid of an unconscious man, Gina wonders. “I’m a man who respects a good coma.”

Kramer comes over to Jerry’s. He’s more upset that Martin still has his vacuum cleaner than the coma. In Kramer’s world, there’s no coma etiquette. After 24 hours all possessions of a coma victim are up for grabs. “That’s why I’m trying to get that vacuum cleaner back. Because somebody’s going to grab it!”

George and Elaine go see the psychic. Among the rubbish she communicates to George:
“Who’s Pauline?”
“Pauline…” George thinks. “My God! My brother once impregnated a woman named Pauline.”
“You think about her?”
“When I hear her name mentioned.”

The Psychic is about to tell George something very bad about his upcoming trip, but Elaine’s pestering the psychic about her smoking while pregnant upsets the psychic and she asks them to leave. George is in a panic about the Cayman Islands. “Plane crash? A heart attack? Lupus? Is it Lupus?”

Jerry’s made the move on Gina but as they’re leaving his apartment, Newman is exiting Kramer’s. “Hello, Newman.”

Jerry, George and Elaine are in the hospital waiting room. Jerry is worried that Newman with snitch to Martin when he wakes up. Elaine looks like death and is hallucinating. George is upset with Elaine for ruining his psychic appointment. Kramer comes over and tells the group that Newman is upstairs in Martin’s room. George offers his Cayman Island ticket to Kramer.

Jerry visits Martin and sees Newman keeping watch and Kramer yelling at the comatose Martin for his vacuum. Newman implies that he will bring Martin up to date on everything that’s happened while he was in the coma, should he ever awaken. Jerry takes out a Drake’s Coffee Cake. Newman begins salivating at the sight of it. Jerry mentions he has a second, but he’s saving it. Newman cracks and promises not to say anything if Jerry will give him the cake. Elaine runs into the room, unable to stand having to wait any longer for her exam. She sees the Drake’s Coffee Cake (did they pay any money for this show- It’s like that Burger King spot in Arrested Development at this point) and tries to grab it from Newman. Jerry tries to stop her. In the scuffle, Martin wakes up. The scene jump cuts to about 30 seconds later. Martin is choking Jerry while Newman says, “They did it right in this bed, Martin. Right here in front of you!”

Some time passes. George and Jerry are getting ready to take Elaine out to dinner again. She’s had to start her whole fast process over again. Kramer has returned from the Cayman Islands. He had a great time and recalls the entire trip to a dazed George: They were photographing the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue right there at the hotel pool and he played Nude Backgammon with Ella MacPherson.  Martin and Gina moved back in together.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Season 3, Episode 11: The Red Dot

“Was that wrong?” - George

We begin with George and Jerry dropping in on Elaine’s company holiday party. Jerry is there to return a watch that Elaine had lost somewhere in the abyss of Jerry’s apartment (presumably between the seat cushions of the couch where Jerry claims to have found it). Before Elaine sees them, Jerry points out Elaine’s new boyfriend with whom she is having an office romance, and mentions that he is a recovering alcoholic. “He’s been off the wagon for two years.”
Elaine introduces Dick, whose first line is, “Is this the guy?” Apparently well of aware of whom Jerry is, just a smidge territorial, and a tad jealous that an ex of Elaine’s would still be friends with her. Elaine also offers George a job at Pendant as a reader. All he has to do is meet her boss, Mr. Lippman (now played by Richard Fancy).

George’s 30 second ‘interview’ with Lippman goes about as well as a job interview for George could go. Lippman asks if George has ever done any work like this before. “Well…you know, book reports.” Lippman, amused, gives George a wry smile and asks who he reads. “Mike Lupica.” When pressed for actual authors (poor Lupica), George comes out with Art Vandalay, an obscure beatnik who authored Venetian Blinds, a ‘searing indictment of the dental profession’ (according to the notes about nothing). George gets the job in spite of himself, because it’s Elaine’s hire.

Dick, meanwhile, is having an animated conversation with Jerry by the pot luck table. They’ve both put down their drinks on the table; Dick’s cranberry juice and Jerry’s cranberry and vodka that he was holding for Elaine. Dick, being one of those assholes whose manhood is always being threatened by other men tells Jerry off, “I’ve got news for you. I’m funnier than you.” He picks up a drink and walks away. Elaine and George come back and Elaine picks up her drink, except it’s just cranberry juice. Jerry realizes that Dick must have picked up her drink by mistake. He’s off the wagon! Or on it, thinks Jerry.

Jerry escorts George while gift shopping for Elaine and comes across a cashmere sweater marked down from $600 to $85. He asks the sales clerk why the sweater has such a steep markdown price. She points out a very small ret dot on it. George has talked himself into getting it. “I don’t even think she’d notice it. Can you see it?”
“Well, I can see it.”
“Yeah, but you know where it is.”
“Well, what do you want me to do, not look at it?”
“Pretend you didn’t know it was there.”
“It’s hard fore me to pretend because I know where it is.”
“Well, just take an overview. Can’t you just take an overview?!”
“You want me to take an overview?”
“I see a very cheap man holding a sweater trying to get away with something. That’s my overview.”

Elaine is concerned Dick is drinking. Jerry asks if she can smell the alcohol on him. She can’t and that is enough evidence for Jerry to be convinced that he isn’t. At that moment Kramer enters and Jerry decides to use him as an example. They have him take three shots of whiskey and smell him. The results are inconclusive. Not inconclusive is the fact that Kramer is a lightweight.

George comes in and gives Elaine the sweater. She’s elated at the gift and can’t believe George would get it for her or that Jerry would let him spend the money on it. “I tried to stop him,” Jerry replies ironically. A drunk Kramer from 10 feet away remarks, “what’s that red dot on your sweater?”

George is staying late at work and encounters the cleaning lady. George gives her a long look as she’s cleaning his cubicle.

Suddenly we’re at Monk’s. “You had sex with the cleaning woman on your desk?!
Says a beaming George, “I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the ammonia, but the next thing I knew she was mopping the floor with me.”
“How was it?”
“The sex was okay, but I threw up from the Hennigans.”
“Good thing the cleaning woman was there.”

Elaine asks Jerry if George bought the sweater with the red dot because he knew he could get a good price on it. Jerry says nothing but his expression gives it away. Elaine confronts George and bluffs that Jerry told her. George immediately turns to Jerry and asks how he could have squealed. “I didn’t tell her you stupid idiot, she tricked you.” George turns back to a grinning Elaine.

George re-gifts the sweater to the cleaning woman as a bribe to keep her quiet. She goes on and on about how she’s loved cashmere ever since she was a little girl in Panama. But it only takes a few minutes for her to notice the red dot.

This lands George in a meeting with Mr. Lippman, who gets right to the point. “It’s come to my attention that you and the cleaning woman have engaged in sexual intercourse on the desk in your office. Is that correct?” This leads into one of my - and Jason Alexander’s as it turns out - favorite George lines. Having been caught in a situation, George’s mind quickly plays out all the scenarios in his head. You can see his eyes dart back and forth from one to the next. His tongue runs across his lower lip as he finally settles on a response: “Was that wrong?”

“I tell ya, I gotta plead ignorance on this thing, because if anyone had said anything to me at all when I first started here that that sort of thing was frowned upon…”

Mr. Lippman fires George and before he leaves the office he says, “She wanted me to give you this,” and tosses the cashmere sweater at George’s face.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Season 3, Episode 10: The Alternate Side

“These Pretzels are making me thirsty.” – Pretty much everyone for a total of 10 times

Even though The Alternate Side is unquestionably most famous for that oft repeated line from a non-existent Woody Allen movie, there are several other gems scattered throughout the 22 minutes in this episode, though they are sadly left out when most people recall The Alternate Side. So powerful in our collective minds are those 6 words -these pretzels are making me thirsty- tattooed to the episode that we disconnect completely the other subplots from it.

Rewatching these early seasons I am finding that despite the various plots of an episode being linked rather cohesively, and I can recall each one individually from my past viewings, I am often surprised when two of them are part of the same episode. There’s that “oh, yeah” moment when I link them together as I’m watching it. In The Alternate Side it’s the scene at the rental car agency. I love quoting –sometimes misquoting- Jerry’s rant from that scene in my daily life but it never crosses my mind that it’s from the same episode as “these pretzels are making me thirsty.”

The episode opens with Jerry and George walking into the apartment. Kramer enters a minute later. Jerry’s car has just been stolen. Jerry’s going to call the car phone company to cancel his service. “Maybe you should call your car phone,” George jokingly says. But Jerry does call the car phone and the car thief (voiced by Larry David) picks up.
“Hello, is this 555-8383?”
“I have no idea.”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“Did you steal my car?”
“Yes, I did.”
Jerry learns that the thief didn’t break in to it, the keys were in it. Kramer asks for the receiver. With a rather irritated look in his eye, Jerry hands it to him. Kramer asks the thief if there is a pair of brown gloves in the glove compartment (there is) and if the thief can mail it to him.

George learns about Sid, a rather straight talking, salty older black gentleman who moves the cars on Jerry’s street from one side to the other so they don’t get ticketed. I guess there are no garages near by. George is still out of work and is a little envious of someone who can make so much for so little work. Sid comes by to apologize and informs Jerry that he’ll be out of town for a week. George leaps at the opportunity to take over for him for the week. We also learn here that Woody Allen is filming on the block and that Kramer is an extra.

Jerry takes Elaine to get a rental car. He has a reservation, but, of course, they don’t have a car and Jerry gets into it with the rental agent. “I don’t understand, I made a reservation. Do you have my reservation?
“Yes, we do. Unfortunately we ran out of cars.”
“But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.”
“I know why we have reservations.”
“I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation. You just don’t know how to hold the reservation. And really, that’s the most important part of the reservation: the hold. Anybody can just take them,” Jerry says, wildly grabbing invisible reservations out of thin air.

Elaine fleshes out her boyfriend situation with Owen, a 66 year old writer, to Jerry while in line at the rental agency, and wonders if he is too old. “If you enjoy being with him, that’s what’s important,” Jerry reassures her.
“I love being with him…” Elaine rationalizes, mostly to herself. “I mean, I like being with him… It’s okay being with him…” The scene jump cuts to Jerry’s apartment. “I just don’t enjoy being with him.”

Elaine wants to know if she can get out of breaking up with Owen face to face if she only went out with him 7 times. Jerry says it should be face to face unless there was no sex to which Elaine simply sighs, “Hmm…”

George, meanwhile, is in over his head with the car parking and Kramer’s walk on part in the movie is now a speaking role after he took a pratfall in his scene which made Woody Allen laugh. Everyone else, George especially, is in disbelief. Kramer plays out his scene; he turns to Woody Allen and speaks the most famous lines from a non-existent Woody Allen film, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” The other three coach Kramer on how he should say the line, each taking a different approach to it. Kramer decides that none of them would make good actors.

Later on, Elaine brings an unconscious Owen to the apartment. Elaine wasn’t able to break up with him before he suffered a stroke. Jerry calls an ambulance and debate what they should do to Owen to help him. Inexplicably, they settle on force feeding him a cookie. As the sirens approach they’re interrupted by screeching tires and a crashing of metal on glass.

The paramedics eventually reach the apartment after the crash. Jerry learns from one of them that the car that hit them was his rental car, driven by George.

News of Owen’s stroke is big enough that it makes the newspaper. Also making the newspaper article; George’s accident possibly making Owen’s stroke worse and causing delays in Woody Allen’s production leading Allen to “wonder if his days of filming in New York were over.”

Jerry returns to the Rental agency only to learn that the insurance doesn’t cover the accident because he wasn’t driving the car and the insurance doesn’t cover “other drivers.” “Other drivers? You’re whole business is based on other drivers.” Jerry doesn’t win this argument leading him to exclaim, “These pretzels are making me thirsty!”

Elaine breaks up with Owen while spoon feeding him his lunch like a baby. The awkwardness of breaking up with a stroke victim leads Elaine to stammer, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.”

Kramer loses his part in the Woody Allen movie the same way he got it; by being Kramer.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Season 3, Episode 9: The Nose Job

“You’re as pretty as any of them. You just need a nose job.” - Kramer

Jerry and George are standing at a newsstand discussing their respective girlfriends. Jerry’s new girl, Isabel, is a very attractive actress with a very pedestrian mind that he met in an elevator, which is a very unlikely place to meet a person. “You’ve got less than sixty seconds. That’s like dismantling a time bomb,” George exclaims, impressed by Jerry’s quick work.

George’s girl, Audrey, is a smart, intelligent and attractive woman with one distinct physical flaw – her oversized nose – and it’s a characteristic that George isn’t sure he can over look. But for once, George is completely aware of his shallowness and his own physical shortcomings, and is even attempting to overcome it. “I should be grateful that someone like her even looks at me.” If only George could have harnessed this semi-enlightened thinking for more than 30 seconds he could have been a semi-successful individual instead of… well, George Costanza.

Later, our fearsome foursome and Audrey are at Jerry’s apartment. Kramer is still trying to get that jacket with magic-like properties (Kramer thinks women find it irresistible) back (see the previous 4 episodes for that sub-plot). He’s concocted another Mission: Improbable plot to get it back, this time with Elaine impersonating the jacket owner’s daughter and Kramer playing her fiancée, Peter Von Nostren. George’s response to this preposterous plan: “Why don’t you just commit yourself already?”

Audrey notices a stamp on Kramer’s hand. Kramer explains that he was at a nightclub the previous night and plans to go back tonight, but doesn’t want to pay the cover charge. “You wouldn’t believe the women at this club,” he tells Jerry. Audrey mentions finding the amount of attractive women in New York intimidating to which Kramer casually says, “You’re as pretty as any of them. You just need a nose job.” This sets off the other three, especially George who’s embarrassed and nearly chokes on his pizza, and Elaine who’s offended. Audrey, obviously aware of her own body, seems to take it in stride.

Audrey discusses the nose job with George who downplays his own interest in her getting the surgery, not wanting to come off as superficial. But after thinking it over, Audrey decides to get rhinoplasty surgery, and makes the big reveal in Elaine’s apartment with all four characters present. When she removes the bandages, Jerry, Elaine and George all recoil their faces and through gritted teeth proclaim their approval. Kramer, however is the only one to make an honest assessment. “You got butchered.” Audrey runs off to the doctor. Kramer gives her a ride.

Meanwhile Jerry is having his own issues with his girlfriend, Isabel, the attractive but simple actress. “I’ve never been so repulsed by someone mentally, yet so attracted to them physically at the same time. It’s like my brain is facing my penis in a chess game. And I’m letting him win.”
“You’re not letting him win,” George comes back. “He wins ‘til you’re forty.”
“And then what?”
“He still wins, but it’s not a blowout.”
Jerry’s solution is to have Kramer throw out Isabel’s number for him but later begs Kramer to give him the number back. Kramer throws the ripped up pieces of paper with the number on the floor. Jerry gets on his hands and knees desperately trying to pick up all the pieces and fit them together as Kramer berates him. “Look at what you’ve sunk to. Look at what you’ve become. Look in the mirror, because you need help, Jerry. You need help, because I can’t stand by and do it anymore. It’s turning my stomach! I can’t stand around here watching you destroy yourself!! It’s eating me up inside!!!” Kramer puts the exclamation point on this scene by slamming the door shut behind him as he walks out only to come back in 3 seconds later, retrieve the bowl of cereal he came for to begin with, and walk back out again.

Audrey breaks up with George, who has become even more obsessed and uncomfortable around Audrey’s nose after the botched surgery.

Jerry, caught in a chess battle between his brain and penis, suffers through rehearsing a scene from a play with Isabel and a really bad southern accent. Eventually, Jerry’s brain wins the chess game and Jerry breaks up with Isabel.

Kramer and Elaine go to retrieve the jacket posing as the jacket owner’s daughter and fiancée. Kramer is in full Kramer mode here accessorized with a pipe and checkered jacket. The mission is going successfully until the landlord mentions Kramer’s mother and says some less than flattering things about her. Kramer’s facial expressions slowly change from upset to anger to rage after each comment from the landlord until he can no longer take it any more.

Kramer and Elaine recall the rest of the scene from Monk’s. Kramer grabbed the landlord by the collar and Elaine pulled him off. But Kramer ends up with the jacket…and Audrey…and Audrey’s new nose, courtesy of Kramer’s doctor.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Season 3, Episode 8: The Tape

“Does she know?”
“How did it happen?”
“I can’t say.”
“Well, why can’t you say?”
“Because I promised her.”
“I thought you just said she doesn’t know.”
“She doesn’t.”
“So how can you promise her?”
“Because she asked me too.”
“What is this, an Abbot and Costello routine?” - George & Jerry

After watching a special on CNN, George is interested in a hair growth product from China, and calls, long distance, the clinic responsible.

Kramer enters with a video recorder his friend Specter gave him. “He’s becoming a minimalist.” George asks and Kramer confirms that Specter is his friend who likes fat women. “Doesn’t the fat fetish conflict with the minimalism,” Jerry points out.

Jerry, while listening to a recording of his stand up act the previous night, discovers an erotic message left by one of his audience members on his tape recorder. George and Kramer listen to it as well. George is especially enthralled by it. “This is like a Penthouse letter.”

Jerry and George meet Elaine at Monk’s. George let’s slip about the mysterious woman on Jerry’s tape recorder. Jerry gets called to another booth by a friend of his leaving Elaine to pester George about the message. “She had this throaty, sexy kind of whisper,” George tells her. He puts his menu up to his face completely obstructing his view of Elaine.

“Really? Like, uh… Jerry, I want to slide my tongue around you like a snake,” Elaine moans. George slowly peers over his menu at a grinning Elaine. Elaine tells George not to tell Jerry that it was her. George suddenly becomes attracted to Elaine (and really, why wouldn’t he? Julia was pretty sexy). “So what about this bald thing?”

“Oh, some bald thing, I don’t know,” George mutters.

George finally gets in touch with the hair restoration clinic in China but not speaking any Chinese (the episode uses the word Chinese, not Mandarin for the language) he has difficulty communicating his desire to buy the product. Luckily, Kramer has ordered Chinese food and they have the delivery boy translate. Kramer also has his camera and films the gang, pretending that he’s filming a documentary on Elaine, an adult film star. Elaine hams it up for Kramer’s camera and using her sexy voice talks about costarring in a movie with George. This both flusters and arouses George, compounding his attraction to Elaine.

George’s cream arrives but there’s one problem: it smells bad. George wears it for a few minutes (he’s supposed to wear it all day) but takes it off when Elaine says she’s coming over. A few minutes later she cancels and George rushes into the bathroom to put the cream on.

Jerry thinks he’s found the woman on the tape and arranges a meeting but comes back disappointed when she wasn’t receptive to his advances. George, wearing a ten gallon hat to hide the cream he’s wearing, eventually breaks it to Jerry and Kramer that it was Elaine on the tape after also telling him that he’s become attracted to her. Knowing this they all listen to the tape again. Elaine comes over and confesses to Jerry it was her. “I know, George told me,” Jerry says without missing a beat. George confesses to Elaine that he is attracted to her. All three guys stare at Elaine. Creeped out, Elaine leaves.