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.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Season 3, Episode 7: The Cafe

“Maybe the test was gender biased. You know, a lot of questions on hunting and testicles.” - Jerry

After two rather unconventional episodes we see a return of the familiar formula. George’s story is about his new girlfriend’s IQ test that she’s created and wants to try on George, which he is not enthusiastic about because she’ll find out he’s a moron. “People think I’m smart, but I’m not smart.”

“Who thinks you’re smart?” Jerry asks. His story is an obsession with a new restaurant that’s just opened up in the neighborhood run by Babu Batt. Jerry, in a fit of compassion, is troubled that he’s never seen anyone go into Babu’s establishment.

Kramer, meanwhile, is hiding from a man whose jacket he’s been wearing for the last two years. In fact, he was wearing the jacket in the previous episode, The Parking Garage. The story here, as explained in The Parking Garage, is that a man left it at his mother’s house and Kramer took the jacket.

Elaine, explaining that she has a high IQ, helps George cheat on the IQ test.

This is another episode that is a lot funnier than I remember it being when I was younger.

So Jerry watches Babu’s from his apartment through binoculars, like a scene out of Rear Window. Elaine asks why he’s obsessed with this restaurant. Jerry likens it to watching a “spider in the toilet struggling for survival.” George enters with an SAT book. He’s still nervous about the IQ test and what it will mean for his relationship with Monica. After Jerry reminds George of a time in college when he cheated on a test and Elaine mentions her high IQ, George gets the idea to cheat again via the same method. He’ll pass Elaine the test out of a window.

Jerry has lunch at Babu Batt’s Dream Café. He’s the only one there. Jerry, thinking he’s great guy helping out a struggling restaurateur, dishes out superlatives and heaps praise upon Babu to make him feel better. He even has an internal dialogue about how no one else does things for other people.

George started the IQ test with Elaine pacing back and forth outside the window waiting for George to pass her the test. After Monica leaves the room and George locks the door he passes the test to Elaine who takes it to Babu’s. Then Kramer joins them and explains his situation. He doesn’t want to give it back. “Anyway, it’s been two years. Isn’t there a statue of limitations on that?” he asks.
“Statute,” Jerry says with emphasis on the ending of the word.
“Statute of limitations,” he elaborates. “It’s not a statue.”
“No. Statue.” Kramer is sure.
“Fine, it’s a sculpture of limitations,” Jerry concedes.

Kramer bothers Elaine about this. “Statute,” Elaine says. “Well, I really think you’re wrong.” Kramer continues to bother her about the IQ test, not really understanding why she would take a test for George. George meanwhile reads The New Yorker as he waits for Elaine. She comes back with the test but it has pasta stains all over it from Babu spilling the plate on Elaine’s table. When Monica comes to collect the test George concocts the best George story ever. Monica asks what happened to the test. George, in the most smooth and casual manner, answers, “Oh, I spilled some food on it.”
“Food? What food?” Monica asks.
“What are you talking about?”
“Where did you get food?”
“From my pocket.”
“From your pocket?”
“I had a sandwich in my pocket.”
“And coffee?” she says examining the paper.
“Yes, had some coffee,” he nods.
“Where did you get the coffee?”
“Where did I get the coffee? Where do you think I got the coffee? At the grocery store.”
“How did you get there?”
“I walked.”
“How did you get out of the apartment? I didn’t see you leave.”
“I climbed out the window.”
“You climbed out the window?”
“Of course.”
“Why didn’t you go out the door?”
“The door?” he asks as though only a lunatic would think to do that. “The window’s right here.”

Jerry tells Babu that he might have more luck with the restaurant if it were Pakistani themed. He’d be the only authentic Pakistani restaurant in the area, an idea that appeals to Babu and he agrees to renovate immediately.

Turns out all the distractions led to a poor test from Elaine, George’s IQ is only 85. Elaine agrees to cheat again to prove the first test was a fluke. “You should have seen her face,” George says of Monica. “It was the exact same face my father gave me when I said I wanted to be a ventriloquist.”

Elaine takes the second test at Jerry’s while he eats at the new Babu’s. Jerry doesn’t catch on at first but Babu is not pleased to see Jerry; he stares a hole through him while he’s eating. After Jerry mentions his shrimp is stringy. This sets Babu off who blames Jerry for the restaurant failing. He hasn’t had any customers since he rebranded as a Pakistani restaurant. “You bad man. You very, very bad man.”

While Elaine is taking the test Kramer bursts in and locks the door behind him. The man who used to own his coat has found him and won’t leave until Kramer returns it. Elaine has to get back to George but Kramer won’t let her leave. Her tardiness causes Monica to catch the two of them cheating on the test and when Elaine finally arrives Monica is waiting for her. “Let’s hope you do better the second time.”

The gang watches Dream Café shut down and we see where they’ve ended at. Kramer doesn’t have his jacket. Elaine’s IQ is 151. They discuss where to have dinner. Mexican? Italian? Chinese? Jerry finishes with, “you know what’d be great…”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Season 3, episode 6: The Parking Garage

“There’s elevators all over. Everything looks the same! We’re like rats in some experiment!” - George

The 3rd season has gotten off to a great start with classic after classic and the trend continues with The Parking Garage. This was the second straight episode of the production order to take place entirely outside Jerry’s apartment (although they didn’t air back-to-back). That was done so they wouldn’t have to take down and put back the set for Jerry’s apartment twice.

Similar to The Chinese Restaurant from season 2, The Parking Garage takes place on a single set, though not in real time, and is essentially the same in structure: a loose plot which follows our characters as they encounter other people within the setting, almost vignette style. In order for there to be some sort of motivation to find the car, Elaine has Goldfish which can only survive in their plastic bag for so long, and George needs to meet his parents for their anniversary. Jerry has to go to the bathroom, and Kramer is carrying a heavy air conditioner (and he really was per Michael’s method acting policy).

I won’t bother recapping every encounter but I’ll go over the best ones (completely out of sequence). The first is George coming across a convertible parked across 3 spaces and wanting to spit on it. Jerry dares him to do it and he’s about to when the alarm disengagement goes off and the owner gets in the car.

“Jerry, are you aware that adult diapers are a $600 million dollar a year industry?” That’s just one of the things Kramer tells Jerry to goad him into urinating behind a car. Jerry does, gets caught and leads to the great uromysotisis explanation: “Why would I do it unless I was in mortal danger? I know it’s against the law. Because I could get uromysotisis poisoning and die, that’s why. You think I enjoy living like this? The shame; the humiliation.”

I also really enjoyed Elaine’s repeated attempts to ask other people for help and being rejected every time. It deals with the selfishness of humanity in a completely honest way. Everyone she talks to could help her, but they don’t. Why? Because they don’t feel like it. There’s no reason for it. They just don’t. And that’s how the world is. People could help strangers, but they never do.

As much as I love this episode – its position in my top 10 is almost assured – the best material was left out, and it may be nitpicking, but it kind of bothers me.

At the very end when Kramer returns with the air conditioner, he slams it in the trunk of the car and cuts his lip. Jerry and Julia start laughing and turn away from the camera. Michael never breaks character and says, “I really hurt myself, Elaine.” All of that was taken out of the final cut. After Kramer slams the air conditioner in the trunk it cuts to Kramer asking about Elaine’s fish, from a different take.

Then, after they get in the car and it doesn’t start, you can only see Jason start to laugh for a split second before cutting to a long shot of the lone car in the parking lot, leaving out a sequence where Michael tries to start the car a second time, fails, gets out of the car, leans on the door, looks off into the horizon and gets back in the car.

It’s a fine ending as they left it, but 20 extra seconds on those two things could have lifted it even further in the pantheon of great Seinfeld endings.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Season 3, episode 5: The Pen

“What is going on in this community? Are you people aware of what’s happening? What is driving you to this behavior? Is it the humidity?” - Jerry

The Pen is the second episode of the series that doesn’t feature Michael Richards as Kramer and the first that doesn’t feature Jason Alexander as George. Jerry and Elaine are the only two principal cast members in The Pen and as a result the episode doesn’t feature any interconnecting B or C story, which was really unusual for the show after the first season and a half. After the episode was shot, Jason Alexander went to Larry David and told him never to leave him out of an episode ever again.

Many people, including Jerry and Larry, count the Pen among their favorite episodes. I’m not sure where it’s going to wind up in my own rankings but I can understand why they think so highly of it. The Pen has some of the best work on the show in building the most humorous situations from the most inconsequential and ridiculous social slights imaginable: possibly because of the setting for the episode; senior communities. Jerry’s back and forth’s with his parents, Helen and Morty, are classic and never more so here, where their timing and tone are perfect.

The episode begins with Jerry and Elaine arriving at Jerry’s parents’ Florida condo community for an event for Jerry’s father, where their tardiness has already flustered Helen:

Jerry - “We had to wait 35 minutes in the rent-a-car place.”
Helen - “I don’t know why you had to rent a car, we could have picked you up.”
Jerry - “What’s the difference?”
Helen - “Well, you could have used our car.”
Jerry - “I don’t want to use your car.”
Helen - “What’s wrong with our car?”
Jerry - “Nothing, it’s a fine car. What if you want to use it?”
Helen - “We don’t use it.”
Morty - “What are you talking? We use it.”
Helen - “If you were using it, we wouldn’t use it.”

Making a mountain out of this mole hill is the running theme for the seniors. Of what consequence is it that Jerry rented a car? Or that he didn’t get insurance. “How could you not get insurance?” Morty asks. No matter what the situation is they always have some rhetorical remark for it which just exacerbates the most minor of incidents on an exponential scale.

When Elaine feels badly about taking Helen and Morty’s bedroom, Helen insists she takes it and has several reasons she should escalating on the absurd.

“I’m up at six o’clock in the morning,” she says after Elaine turns down her offer. “I can’t kick you out of your bed,” Elaine replies. “We don’t even sleep,” Helen insists. “It’s a sofa bed you’ll be uncomfortable,” she continues. “What about you?” Jerry asks. “Why should I be comfortable?...I’ll sleep standing up.” Morty responds. These people are out of their minds.

Helen and Morty’s neighbors, Jack and Doris, arrive. With him Jack has ‘The Pen’. It’s an astronaut pen: It writes upside down. When Jerry expresses a passing interest in it Jack offers him the pen. Jerry doesn’t want to take it but Jack is insistent. “Do me a personal favor and take the pen.” Jerry takes it, reluctant but happy in having the pen. Not 5 seconds later Helen has to interject. “Whadya take his pen for?” she says in that motherly tone. This sets off a whole thing about how Jerry shouldn’t have taken the pen even though it was offered to him. Elaine can’t help but just shake her head at the entire situation.

After a night of not being comfortable in the sofa bed, Elaine wakes up with back pain, ruining her plans to go scuba diving with Jerry. Jerry goes anyway but comes back with burst capillaries.

And as Helen had predicted, everyone in the community has heard about Jack giving Jerry the pen. Another neighbor comes over and asks about the pen straight away. And Helen receives a phone call: “Oh, hello, Gussie… No, Jerry wouldn’t do that… Jack gave him the pen.”

So Jerry gives Jack the pen back which sets Morty off. “You’ve got a hell-of-a-nerve taking that kid’s pen.”

“Do you think I take everything everybody offers me? Yesterday you offered me sponge cake. Did I take it?” Jack says.
“You said you didn’t want it!” Morty yells.
“Of course I wanted it! I love sponge cake!” Jack yells back. Now Jerry is the one just shaking his head.

So the Seinfelds and Elaine must attend the dinner for Morty with he and Jack, who is MC, now hating each other. Because of the burst capillaries, Jerry wears sunglasses the whole time. And in order to be pain free, Elaine takes muscle relaxers (but waaaay too many of them). At the event, Elaine is completely whacked out on pills and when Jerry introduces his Aunt Stella (Uncle Leo’s wife!) she begins the craziest Marlon Brando impression: “Stella!!! STELLA!!!!!!” And it just gets worse at the event as Morty doesn’t take to kindly to Jack’s roasting of him and confronts him over the pen incident. Chaos erupts as the two fight and Jerry tries to calm everything with his routine.

“Have you noticed how they always give you the peanuts on the plane?” Jerry begins. “I’d rather have a bottle of scotch!” the disembodied voice of Larry David yells out.

The end result is the community threatening the Seinfelds with expulsion from the community for unruly behavior. And Elaine’s back is too painful to travel on for another five days; stuck in the heat…and the humidity…

Friday, September 13, 2013

Season 3, episode 4: The Library

“’71, that was my first year on the job. Bad year for libraries. Bad year for America.” – Lt. Bookman

Possibly the best episode of the series so far (in my top 3 with The Chinese Restaurant and The Pony Remark) and unquestionably the best of what is so far a very strong season 3, albeit we’re only 4 episodes in. The Library gives us the brilliantly named Lt. Bookman, a flashback to George and Jerry in high school (and still played by Jason and Jerry with wigs – And Jason’s may have later been used by Jeffrey Tambor in AD for those flashbacks for all I know, it’s that similar!), Kramer hooking up with a librarian, and about 3 or 4 of the series best monologues which I will try to transcribe in full (because I care!).

It starts with Jerry on the phone with the New York Public Library. In 1971 Jerry checked out Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and never returned it. Jerry is positive he returned it and recalls the details of that day very vividly to Kramer; he was with a girl named Sherry Becker who was wearing an orange dress.

Jerry, Kramer and George go down to the library to take care of Jerry’s overdue fine. Jerry and Kramer observe the librarian leading to the first monologue from Kramer:

“Look at her. This is a lonely woman looking for companionship. A spinster. Maybe a virgin. Maybe she got hurt a long time ago. She’s a school girl, there was a boy – it didn’t work out. Now she needs a little tenderness. She needs a little understanding. She needs a little Kramer.”

“Then she’ll need a little shot of penicillin,” Jerry replies. After getting the librarian’s attention Jerry passes her the notice he received in the mail. She tells him that his case has been referred to the library investigation officer, Bookman. “That’s like an ice cream man named Cone,” Kramer remarks.

George comes running in from outside setting up the B-story. He thinks he saw his and Jerry’s gym teacher from High School, Mr. Heyman, now homeless and outside the library.

In Elaine’s story, we finally get to see her work, Pendant Publishing, and her boss, Mr. Lippman, though he’s not played by Richard Fancy in this episode. Elaine’s co-worker didn’t ask her  what she wanted for lunch, and in her neurosis, Elaine interprets that to mean that she may be on her way out of the company. She grills Mr. Lipman’s secretary who claims not to know anything. “I don’t know anything means there’s something to know. If you really didn’t know anything you would have said ‘you’re crazy.’”

At lunch George explains to Elaine what happened in High School. “He purposely mispronounced my name. Instead of saying Costanza he’d say ‘Can’t-stand-ya’! He made me smell my own gym socks once.”

“I remember he made you wear a jock on your head for a whole class,” Jerry piles on. George recalls the incident which led to Mr. Heyman being fired. “He gave me a wedgie.”

“Boys are sick,” Elaine responds. “Well, what do girls do?” Jerry asks. “We just tease someone until they develop an eating disorder.”

Jerry gets home from lunch to a waiting Lt. Bookman who Larry Charles based on Joe Friday (the second time he’s done that on the show. Recall Kramer in The Statue). Rather than describe the scene I’ll just let the words of Lt. Bookman (and a little bit of Jerry) speak for themselves:

“You got any coffee?”
“Yeah, coffee.
“No, I don’t drink coffee.
“You don’t drink coffee? How about instant coffee?
“No, I don’t have-
“You don’t have instant coffee?
“Well I don’t normally-
“Who doesn’t have instant coffee?
“I don’t.
“You buy a jar of Foldgers crystals. Throw it in your cupboard and forget about it. And later on when you need it it’s there. It lasts forever. It’s freeze-dried. Freeze-dried crystals.
“Really? I’ll have to remember that.
“You took this book out in 1971.
“Yes, and I returned it in 1971.
“’71, that was my first year on the job. Bad year for libraries. Bad year for America. Hippies burning library cards. Abbie Hoffman telling everybody to steal books. I don’t judge a man by the length of his hair or the music he listens to. Rock was never my bag. (sticking a finger in Jerry’s direction) But you put on a pair of shoes and walked into the New York Public Library, fella.
“Look, Mr. Bookman. I returned that book. I remember it very specifically.
“You’re a comedian. You make people laugh.
“I try.
“You think this is all a big joke, don’t you?
“No, I don’t.
“I saw you on TV once. I remembered your name from my list. I looked it up. Sure enough it checked out. You think that because you’re a celebrity that somehow the law doesn’t apply to you? That you’re above the law?
“Certainly not.
(sticking his finger in Jerry’s direction again)“Well let me tell you something funny boy. You know that little stamp? The one that says New York Public Library? Well, that may not mean anything to you but that means a lot to me, one whole hell of a lot! Sure, go ahead laugh if you want to. I’ve seen your type before: flashy, making the scene… Yeah I know what you’re thinking: why’s this guy making such a big stink about a library book. (again with the finger) Well, let me give you a hint junior, maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me, maybe. Sure, we’re too old to change the world. But what about that kid, sitting down opening a book right now in a branch of the local library, and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees in the Cat in the Hat and The Five Chinese Brothers. Doesn’t he deserve better? (finger!) Look, you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you better think again. This is about that kid’s right to read a book without getting his mind warped. But maybe that turns you on, Seinfeld. Maybe that’s how you get your kicks, you and your good time buddies. Well, I got a flash for you, joy boy: Party time is over.

Talk about a writer and actor nailing a scene. Right as Bookman is leaving, the librarian, Marion, is entering Kramer’s apartment. She quickly ducks inside when she sees Bookman coming out of Jerry’s.

Jerry decides to track down his high school girlfriend, Sherry Becker. They meet at Monk’s. Sherry’s gained weight and her recollection of the day is very different from Jerry’s. She was wearing a purple dress and they were reading Tropic of Capricorn. Jerry then remembers that he loaned Tropic of Cancer to George in the locker room and runs out of Monk’s to go find him.

Kramer and Marion return to the library after hours but Bookman is waiting for them:

“I remember when the librarian was a much older woman. Kindly, descreet, unattractive. You didn’t know anything about her private life. You didn’t want to know anything about her private life. She didn’t have a private life. If you’re thinking about that, think about this: the library closes at five o’clock, no exceptions. You got that, Kewpie doll?”

At the apartment, Kramer starts crying while reading a book of Marion’s poetry leading Elaine to think that if she takes the poetry to Lippman, he’ll like it enough to publish it. She’s still paranoid that he’s going to fire her after he didn’t like her latest publishing recommendation, a biography of Columbus. George comes in and confirms that the homeless man is his old gym teacher, Mr. Heyman. How does he know? He sat next to him outside the library and said ‘Can-t-stand-ya?’ He got up to run away but something was holding him back. “He had my underwear. There I was on the steps of the 42nd street library; a grown man getting a wedgie.”

“At least it wasn’t atomic.”

“It was.”

Jerry tells George what happened to Tropic of Cancer. George remembers. George dropped it as he was getting the wedgie that Mr. Heyman was responsible for. The book lost forever, Jerry pays the overdue fine to Bookman. Elaine’s boss didn’t like the poetry book form Marion. George tells Jerry that Mr. Heyman is gone from outside the library. They wonder what happened to him.

Heyman is shown later at night outside, repeating ‘Can’t-stand-ya’. Near him is the old beat up copy of Tropic of Cancer.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Season 3, episode 3: The Dog

“You can’t tell someone how you feel about their girlfriend until after they stop seeing them.”
“I tell you.”
You. I’m talking about people.” – Jerry and Kramer

I remember not really liking this episode much when I was younger, but upon reviewing it now, I’m much more receptive to it. It’s not close to making my top episode list, but there’s some good bits and pieces and I like how the Elaine/George relationship evolves in this episode.

The Dog starts out with Jerry flying home, presumably from a west coast trip based on making an emergency landing in Chicago. He’s in first class but stuck next to a WASPy drunk Englishman, Gavin Polone, who goes on and on about his dog (currently enjoying the trip in the baggage compartment. Gavin falls ill, prompting the emergency landing, and Jerry is asked to take care of the dog, Farfel.

Three days later and Jerry is having a miserable time with Farfel, who chews up Jerry’s shoes, ruins furniture and generally makes a mess of everything. We never see Farfel in action, aside from Jerry and Elaine trying to pry articles of clothing away from the dog who is kept hidden. We only ever here him barking, and shockingly (to me anyway) Farfel’s voice was NOT provided by Frank Welker. Another voice actor, Tom Williams won the role.

Jerry is hoping to escape for the night with Elaine and George to watch Prognosis Negative (this was a real unproduced screenplay that Larry David wrote. I had no idea!) while Kramer watches the dog, but Kramer backs out in order to break up with his girlfriend (whom we also hear but never see). Kramer is excited to break up with her, as are Jerry and Elaine. “If you see her personality it would be like one of the Elephant Man exhibits where they pull off the sheet and everyone gasps,” Elaine tells him. Jerry adds, “I can’t believe anyone hasn’t killed her yet.”

Without a dogsitter, Jerry backs out of the group outing. Elaine doesn’t want to go alone with George and the feeling is mutual. Both are of the opinion that they don’t have anything in common without Jerry. George and Elaine decide to watch a different movie, but it’s sold out and they end up at Monk’s instead. Over coffee the two engage in really trite small talk and it isn’t until they turn the conversation to Jerry that it picks up and they start laughing and having a good time.

[There is one continuity error here that bugged me. Elaine mentions that she moved to New York in 1986. And George asks Elaine if she’s ever seen Jerry throw up, which she has. But in a later season, Jerry mentions having not thrown up in 18 years (a record I remember very vividly because I was pleased when I surpassed it myself) which would be impossible if she moved to New York in 1986 (and I’m assuming that she didn’t know Jerry before that).]

Kramer breaks up with his girlfriend (How could I be with someone like you?) and gets back together with her is the very same scene (I can’t live without you. I’ll do anything).

Fed up with Farfel, Jerry decides he’s going to take Farfel to the pound. He tracks down the hospital that Gavin Polone was in and learns that he checked out several days ago. This seals it for Jerry to take Farfel to the pound but Elaine talks him out of it, at least for one more day. Elaine even offers to watch the dog so Jerry and George can go see a movie. Kramer tells Jerry and Elaine that he got back with his girlfriend. The two back track from their previous comments but Kramer has a good memory and removes some of his belongings from Jerry’s apartment.

Elaine fights with Farfel and almost decides to take matters into her own hands when Gavin calls Jerry’s apartment. Jerry and George end up seeing Prognosis Negative without Elaine after the other film is sold out.

Gavin, possibly still drunk and recovering from a fit of Bell’s Palsy, picks up Farfel. Elaine wants to go see Prognosis Negative but Jerry, having now seen it and not liking it, is trying to back out claiming he ‘heard from George’ it was terrible. Elaine says George didn’t mention anything. Jerry asks why Elaine and George got together. “I wanted to talk about how we have nothing to talk about.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Season 3, episode 2: The Truth

“I’ve driven women to lesbianism before, but never a mental institution.” - George

"You didn't give her my Taxes?" - Jerry

"I broke up with her." 

George is having lunch with his current girlfriend, a cultured woman named Patrice, who pronounces papier-mâché ‘pap-e-ay’ and wears traditional kimono dresses and chopsticks in her hair. Kramer is dating Elaine’s roommate, Tina, which Jerry finds humorous. She complains to him about his make out sessions in the living room.

Jerry is being audited. He contributed money to a charity that doesn’t exist. It’s all Kramer’s fault somehow (of course it is) so Kramer is helping him gather receipts. Kramer reveals that he doesn’t even pay taxes. “Yeah, that’s easy when you have no income,” Jerry tells him. Additionally, Jerry is having George’s girlfriend, Patrice, a former high level IRS agent, preparing his audit. Elaine remembers a charity from her first date with Jerry. “You’ve got me all wrong. I was only thinking of those poor Krakatoans.”

Although Jerry isn’t worried at the moment he will be as George is breaking up with his girlfriend as Jerry is with Elaine and Kramer. Patrice is devastated and demands George tells her why. George lies (It’s not you, it’s me) but Patrice sees through the lies and presses for the truth. Pressured, George tells her the truth. She’s pretentious.

“You call everyone by their full name. You called my doorman Sammy, Samuel. But you didn’t even say Samuel. You went ‘Sam-u-el’. Pap-e-ay mache? What is pap-e-ay mache?”

Right as Jerry is saying that he would kill Kramer if he didn’t have George’s girlfriend (“Have you ever been through an audit? It’s Hell! It’s the financial equivalent of a complete rectal examination. I would have killed this man. Torn him limb from limb. Ripped the flesh right off his bones.”), George arrives absolutely delighted. “My whole life has been a complete waste of time.” An epiphany for him I’m sure.
In George’s exuberance he’s forgotten about Jerry’s papers, which quickly brings him back down to earth. He tells Jerry he broke up with her. Upon hearing this, Kramer gets up and leaves (a brilliant moment as seen above).

Jerry, now extremely worried, has George call her office but she never came back from lunch. “This is no good.” George calls her house but she immediately hangs up on him. “Not good.”

For some reason, Kramer has a winshield in Jerry’s apartment. He’s going to make a coffee table out of it. A pre-cursor to the coffee table book two seasons later perhaps? Elaine comes over, and there’s an awkwardness between her and Kramer. Kramer saw her naked. “If it makes you feel any better you can see me naked.”

George comes in. His girlfriend is in a mental institution. So Jerry and George visit her. She’s thrown out his papers, but would be happy to help Jerry if he brings her copies. “Who makes copies?” Jerry wonders aloud. In order not to agitate her further, George is forced to make up with Patrice, telling several small lies in the process.

Elaine confronts Kramer and her roommate where she has her own opportunity to tell them the truth but she thinks better of it and just says that they makes a great couple. In the dark, Kramer and his girlfriend break the winshield coffee table.

In the end, Jerry tracks down an old receipt and gets set to take a cab to fetch it. Kramer, arm in a sling, joins him to visit Elaine’s roommate in the hospital. Elaine is doing the same. George is going to a poetry reading for Patrice and joins them for the ride. Elaine demands George pay his share (she earlier told him he was ‘careful with money’).

Monday, September 9, 2013

Season 3, episode 1: The Note

“I think it moved.” - George

Season 3 begins with Jerry at his physical therapist receiving a massage. He makes small talk, first about being blind, then about a kidnapped boy in Pennsylvania. His poor choice in topics results in increasing paranoia in his therapist over the course o the scene, to the degree that he later can’t get an appointment booked at her clinic, and she becomes convinced that he is a potential predator. “I think this is really helping,” Jerry says, rather chipper. “I don’t live around here, you know!” his therapist snaps.

Jerry relays his conversation with Elaine and George and drops in some information that interests George: if you get a doctor’s note the massage can be covered by insurance. So Elaine and George go to get massages. George is assigned a male masseuse, and it turns out he’s a little uncomfortable with that. This isn’t the first time George has displayed slightly homophobic tendencies.

He asks Elaine to switch with him. “I can’t have a man touching me.”
“I don’t want the man either.”
“What’s the difference? You’re a woman. They’re supposed to be touching you.”

George’s masseuse, Raymond, comes to collect him. The entire session is uncomfortable and Jason plays this scene tremendously. The sense of panic in his movements and voice; every response he gives to Raymond is short and spoken with an element of fear. Some of his answers to Raymond’s questions don’t even make sense. After the massage, George slowly zombies his way out the door, passing Elaine without even acknowledging her.

Jerry is still calling to get an appointment. George comes in and tells him a man gave him a massage, although it takes him about 3 minutes to get out one sentence. George is afraid he may have enjoyed the massage a little too much. Kramer interrupts to tell Jerry he saw Joe DiMaggio in Dinky Donuts.

Jerry and George travel to Jerry’s dentist friend Roy’s office to get medical notes for the massages. They also get one for Elaine, which gets the dentist investigated for insurance fraud (since Elaine had already gotten her own note). In the office, there’s a poster of Evander Holyfield. “He’s got a hell of a body, doesn’t he?” Roy rhetorically asks. “How would I know?” George responds defensively.

Kramer sees DiMaggio again. Jerry doesn’t think it’s DiMaggio based on what Kramer says. DiMaggio is such a focused individual, according to Kramer, because his concentration on the donuts wasn’t broken by Kramer banging on the table and yelling.

Roy tells Jerry that everything should be okay if they get the masseuse to agree to say the massage was related to a dental problem, leading Jerry to go see his now former physical therapist in person. She’s in the office with her young son, when she sees Jerry she tells her son to run into the office and lock the door. The whole scene is absurdly overdramatic. During the course of the scene, George has an uncomfortable reunion with Raymond.

At Monk’s, the gang is having lunch. George’s sexual fantasies involve men. Kramer enters, having come from the dentist (he threw up in gas mask). Joe DiMaggio is having coffee across the way. Kramer starts banging on the table and yelling. DiMiaggio isn’t distracted. “I told ya.”

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Season 2, episode 13: The Deal

“You ask me here to have lunch, tell me you slept with Elaine, and then say you’re not in the mood for details? Now you listen to me. I want details, and I want them right now. I don’t have a job. I have no place to go. You’re not in the mood? Well you get in the mood!” - George

For two short seasons, Seinfeld managed to keep Jerry and Elaine away from each other in blatant disregard for every prevailing sitcom notion and trend of the era. But the network wanted them too. Luckily, Larry David had an event to draw upon from his past where he attempted to maintain a physical relationship with a former girl friend without the entanglements of the emotional relationship. And that formed the basis for what was the second season finale. And based on the first two seasons’ ratings, Larry didn’t think the show would continue for a third which is why he didn’t care how this episode ended (It ends with Jerry and Elaine still involved in their deal). When it got picked up for a third season they planned to just continue with Jerry and Elaine together. But as Jerry toured the country doing his act, the response he got from fans was overwhelmingly negative to the relationship so it was dropped without explanation at the start of the fall season.

The episode begins with Jerry and Elaine flipping channels in Jerry’s apartment. Elaine flips to an adult film which leads to the two discussing their lack of a sex life. There’s a period of awkward silence where they both know what they’re thinking but they’re not sure how to broach the subject. “Things pop into your head,” he starts. “Things occur to me from time to time,” Elaine responds.

So they discuss the pros and cons of an arrangement, in very much the same way I imagine professional agents discuss contracts with their clients’ employers. That aspect of this scene was debated on the set with some of the producers wanting the scene to be more intimate with Jerry and Elaine seated closer together, but David pointed out that this is not an intimate scene, it’s a contract signing.

In order to maintain the friendship Jerry and Elaine establish a set of parameters: No calling the next day and spending the night is optional. And with that they retire to the bedroom (we never see them in there). The next morning Jerry is pouring two glasses of OJ when Kramer comes in. Kramer wants to know what’s taking Jerry so long to get the paper when a pants-less Elaine comes out of the bedroom. Kramer does a double take, Jerry shrugs, and Kramer sheepishly smiles his way out of the apartment.

Next, Jerry has lunch with George. “What’s the deal with Aquaman? Could he go on the land or was he restricted to water?” I could go for a 30 minute show of George just asking these kinds of questions. In the course of the conversation, Jerry drops in a casual, “So I slept with Elaine last night.” George removes his glasses. “I need oxygen! I need some oxygen!” Jerry doesn’t want to give details which leads to George’s rant posted at the top of the page. I think Jerry really knows when they have a real great line written because you can see it in his expression when it’s being recited by one of the other characters. He doesn’t have the best poker face.

When Jerry explains the deal, George laughs himself out of the booth. “Where are you living? Are you here? Are you on this planet? It’s impossible. It can’t be done.”

Inevitably there are problems. At Elaine’s, Jerry doesn’t want to spend the night. Elaine is a little upset in a very passive aggressive manner: “My house, my option.” Then Jerry tries to kiss Elaine, a violation of the rules.

Jerry has to pick out a birthday gift for Elaine, but now he’s in the delicate position of finding a gift that’s not quite boyfriend but more than friend. “I think she mentioned something about a bench.” George points out a variety of items but Jerry has an issue with all of them. He ends up giving her $182. “Who are you, my uncle?” His card is even worse than the gift. Kramer comes in and has a gift for Elaine; the bench she wanted. When Kramer finds out what Jerry got her he laughs. “Cash…that’s like something her uncle would give her.”

Jerry wants to forget the whole deal and go back to being friends. But Elaine can’t do that. She wants this, that AND the other. It appears that the two are heading for a break up. But after a phone call…

…Kramer comes into Jerry’s apartment and asks for the paper. Pants-less Elaine comes out with the paper. Kramer asks what they’re going to do for the day. Elaine and Jerry coyly respond with “This, that, and the other.”

“Boy, I really liked the two of you much better when you weren’t a couple,” Kramer says, walking out.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Season 2, episode 12: The Revenge

“So if anybody leaves anything here, you can just take it. You have a license to steal. You are like the James Bond of laundry.” - Jerry

The DVD for this has two versions, the original and the syndicated. The only difference in the two is Newman’s voice. The Revenge introduces us to Newman, although he is only heard. He was supposed to be a one off character until Larry and Jerry decided to cast Wayne Knight as a neighbor of Jerry’s. So the scene with Newman for The Revenge was cut and Larry David provides the off camera voice for him in the remaining scene. The syndicated version replaces David with Knight.

The main thread of The Revenge is about George quitting his job in a rage, realizing he has no other prospects, and going back to work as though nothing ever happened. This is based on Larry David’s one season as a writer on Saturday Night Live when he quit midway through the season and came back the next day as though nothing had happened.

At the apartment, Jerry is gathering laundry and Kramer enters to complain about their neighbor Newman, who is suicidal, and threatening to jump off the roof. “I told him to jump,” Kramer says rather casually. “At least I’d respect the guy for accomplishing something.”

Kramer also asks Jerry to take some of his clothes to get laundered. Jerry is hesitant. “My guys don’t know your guys. You can’t just lock them all in the same machine together, they’ll start a riot.” George meets Jerry at the laundromat and tells him the whole story of how he quit. “What are you going to do now? Are you going to look for something else in real estate?”

“Nobody’s hiring now, the market’s terrible.”

So what are you going to do?” To which George looks vacantly at the floor.

Back at the apartment, the two brainstorm job ideas. “I like sports, I could do something in sports,” George says to which Jerry politely nods. “Uh-huh, uh-huh. In what capacity?”

“You know, like the general manager of a baseball team.” George also suggests TV color man (They usually give those jobs to ex-ballplayers, Jerry tells him. “That’s really not fair,” George replies), watching movies (do they pay people to watch movies?), talk show host. It never occurs to George how completely unqualified he is for any of these suggestions. And Jerry’s reactions are spot on. George finally realizes he may have made a mistake in quitting. Jerry is the one who suggests that maybe he could just go back. “You’re an emotional person. Nobody takes you seriously.”

So George returns to work at the weekly staff meeting. But George’s boss calls him on it and fires him leading to George enlisting the help of Elaine to get revenge by slipping the boss a mickey.

In the Newman story, Newman jumps. Kramer told him “to wave to me when (you) pass my window.” Jerry can’t believe it. “Did he wave?” is the follow up question. But Newman only jumped from the second floor and he’s still alive (obviously).

In the laundry story, Jerry remembers that he had a large sum of money in his laundry bag and forgot about it. He realizes it was still in the bag when he took it to be laundered. So he and Kramer return to the laundromat to ask the owner for the money, but the owner claims he never saw it. So Kramer decides to extract revenge for Jerry by ruining one of the washing machines by dropping a 50 pound bag of concrete in it. Michael Richards insisted on using an actual 50 pound bag to make the pratfalls legitimate. METHOD ACTING!!! And we’re getting more and more classic Kramer scenes in the second half of the season with the last three episodes.

At a bar where George’s now ex-co-workers are gathered, Elaine springs into action by charming George’s ex-boss long enough to distract him while George slips him the mickey (So I’m going to a nudist colony next week, Elaine tells him). George is successful but Elaine is so successful that the boss decides to forgive George and hires him back. Then he drinks the spiked drink.

Back at the apartment…

“I like history; the civil war. Maybe I could be a professor or something?”

And Jerry’s money was in Kramer’s laundry.

And Newman is on the roof again…

Monday, September 2, 2013

Season 2, episode 11: The Heart Attack

“Women go after doctors like men go after models. They want someone with knowledge of the body. We just want the body.” – Jerry

“A rebel? Johnny Yuma was a rebel. He’s a nut.” – Jerry

“You could do your taxes in the time it takes me have an orgasm.” - George

The Heart Attack begins with Jerry in his apartment watching a B-movie, starring Larry David, to open up the B-plot of this episode. While sleeping Jerry gets an idea for a joke based on the movie and writes it down on his yellow note pad (which is how Real Jerry Seinfeld writes his material too. Fun Fact!)

The next day he’s having lunch with Elaine and George at Monk’s. No Kramer. Jerry is trying to read his note from the night before but can’t make out is own hand writing. “Fax…me…some…Halibut,” Jerry shrugs. “Is that funny?” This leads to Jerry asking everyone he comes in contact with to make out what’s written on his note paper. I wonder if any or how much of Real Jerry’s material has been lost to the comedic abyss because of something like this happening. Elaine thinks it says, “Don’t mess with Johnny.” “Carson?” Jerry thinks.

George reads the note. “I think I’m having a heart attack.” That’s not it, Jerry thinks, but George is really having a heart attack. At the Hospital, George learns he hasn’t had a heart attack, but they need to take his tonsils out. Kramer, after a trip to the hospital cafeteria (“It’s like Sizzler opened up a hospital.”), hears this and flips out, insisting they break George out of the hospital and visit his friend Tor, the holistic healer. “I thought he was doing time,” Jerry says. “No, he’s out,” Kramer reassures them. George is only reassured by the difference in cost. The healer only costs $38.

So they see the healer, Tor, played to perfection by Stephen Tobolowsky whom you may recognize from, like, just about everything that’s ever been made. In fact, he’s so good here that this would make my all-time top five Stephen Tobolowsky roles (and there’s a million to choose from). The other four, in no particular order would be Hugo Jarry from Deadwood, Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day, Sammy Jenkis from Memento and Len Dunkel from Curb.

This is the first time we’ve met an acquaintance of Kramer’s and they nailed it. He’s exactly as nutty as someone Kramer would know should be, giving the most absurd and random advice a healer could give: suggesting to George that he no longer use hot water in the shower, telling George he should have been born in August instead of April, telling Jerry to have less dairy, blowing in George’s face, and using conversational hand gestures that no normal human being, not even the most pretentious hipster on his worst day, would ever in a million years use. He gives George an herbal tea which results in George being rushed back to the hospital looking like the stand in for Violet Beauregarde.

While en route, the driver keeps arguing with the attendant over the candy Chuckles. They stop and fight off camera. The driver then continues without the attendant but is still arguing with Kramer and Jerry leading to him crashing the ambulance. Jerry and George reunite in the hospital, both in neck braces. Kramer, having chosen the holistic healer, is already better. While Elaine and Jerry are visiting George, the B-Movie from the beginning of the episode comes on and triggers Jerry’s memory of the joke he wrote down. He’s excited at his memory being jogged until he realizes the joke isn’t funny.