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.