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.

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