August 31, 2012

Top 5 Underappreciated 80's Sitcoms


We all know the classic sitcoms of the 80s. Cosby Show, Family Ties, Who's The Boss, Alf, Cheers, and even Full House are a part of television history and in some cases our very culture. But what about those other shows that were popular when they were on, but have kind of been forgotten in the passage of time? No one ever seems to mention them, re-runs and in some cases dvd’s are unheard of,  and these shows exist the memories of the fans who did once enjoy them.  Here are five examples of what I mean.


#5.Head of the Class-I have already talked about this show a bit in another article so I will keep this short and sweet. I loved this show, its one show I truly miss. I am so glad I have some on tape because it is never re-run and I think I will be stunned if it gets a DVD release. I don't know what it is, but this show just worked for me. Howard Hesseman is not the most likable guy, but his portrayal of Charlie Moore was really good here.  The students were all well cast, especially the first incarnation of the cast. I started watching this show in re-runs and became a fan of it when it was paired with Growing Pains for a couple years. For some reason those two shows really worked well together. Not going to suggest every episode was perfect but this definitely a show I would love to see on DVD someday. Oh, and what about that last season with Billy Connolly? Awful.


#4.Wings-Why wasn't this show a bigger hit? It was created by the same people who created Cheers and Frasier, it had a real solid cast including Tim Daly and Crystal Bernard, and it had a time slot after Cheers (the same time slot that Seinfeld started in). Despite all of these things, this show is not considered a huge hit. True, they had the time slow behind Cheers only a part of the time. In fact I think this show had has many as eight different time slots during its run. This is the same thing that killed Dear John which also wasn't that bad. To be honest I was one of the many who never really gave this show a chance, only watching it when the time slot was convenient. I guess as funny as the show could be it just didn't have that special something that forces people to tune in day in and day out, no matter where the show is scheduled.

#3. Webster. I have heard horror stories about the production of this show. Maybe that is why it has kind of quietly gone away. Emmanuel Lewis’s character is left in the care of Alex Karas and Susan Clark (who were married in real life). The background of the behind the scenes of this could fill a whole article. In the original version it was just supposed to be Alex Karas and Susan Clark, but someone decided to add a cute kid ala Diff’rent Strokes so Webster was born (and that’s the short version). The cast did finally come together and created a really clever little show. Webster was nothing fancy, just a story about a kid being raised by a foster family after his parents are killed in a horrible accident. One thing this show is remembered for is that Webster always called Susan Clark’s character ma’am. Why did he do that? Because it sounded like “mom”. Awww, you gotta love that. One episode I always remember was when “ma’am”’s mother died, I don’t think I have ever seen a sitcom deal with grief and loss of a parent so bluntly. This show was one of the first to be cancelled by a network and survive in first run syndication. Anyway, before this becomes a ramble, this was a decent show which does not get the proper attention it deserves.

#2. Gimmee A Break! Nell Carter was a very popular singer when she came along with this silly NBC sitcom. The premise was she moved into a household to take care of a family after her friend passed away. Like Webster, Nell was a very opinionated black woman running a white suburban household. The first season was actually kind of lousy, with way to many serious stories. As the show developed it got lighter. Also like Webster, there were lots of turmoil behind the scenes. This is one time when adding a child actually helped the show, when Joey Lawrence came in around the 3rd season. I always remember this show kind of disappearing from the schedule, and was too young to realize that the show sucked and was cancelled. With Dolph Sweet (who had played The Chief) passed away and the daughters old and moving on, the show struggled to find an identity those last couple years. However the earlier years were really funny with good episodes, including a rare live episode, and the show was a staple of NBC’s line-up with good reason.

#1. One Day at a Time-The forgotten sitcom that Norman Lear developed. This one is so underappreciated even I never appreciated it. This show came on in the late 70's so it almost doesn't qualify for this list, but it was on until 1984 so I will let it go. This show ran for nine years and had some great people in the cast including Bonnie Franklin (playing a divorced single mother, almost unheard of), a catchy theme song, and some very strong episodes. It also featured a real great recurring character; Scheider was Kramer years before Seinfeld ever came around. So, why is this show not remembered as fondly as the other shows of the time? Maybe it was the problems off set, especially with Mackenzie Phillips (who is a true Hollywood success story by the way considering her troubled past). Maybe it was the time slots; I know I was never really exposed to this show. Maybe the subject matter was a little to dramatic, I know I generally do not enjoy Norman Lear sitcoms for this reason. This show did finally get some attention this last April on the TV Land Awards, and if you wonder how a silly show like The TV Land Awards could be one every year, that is a perfect example why right there.


Lots of honorable mentions. I didn’t talk about The Hogan Family because I already have in other articles, and I don’t think that show was ever a real hit when it was on. It had a comfortable time slot behind Alf which brings back some fond memories. There was My Two Dads (which had a premise which still does not work for me), Coach, 227, and Just The Ten of Us which was the Growing Pain spin-off which everyone forgets.

August 28, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Movie Presidents



It only makes sense that most powerful office in the nation would make its way into films from time to time. Once in a while we will get the actual president at the time, but usuall the script will make up a president out of the blue. Sometimes the president is a character meant to move the plot along (like in Armageddon when the president decides to use a nuclear bomb even though everyone tells him it’s a bad idea). But other times the president is the central characters that the entire film is based on. Today I wanted to talk about my five favorite movie presidents. By the way, I am not including any “evil” or “bad guy” presidents in this list.


#5. President Henry Ashton (William Hurt, Vantage Point)
This is a case of the actor doing a lot with what is really a minor role. When we first see the president we see him being goofy, and then he gets shot. We finally realize that this isn’t the real president at all but a double. When we meet the real president, William Hurt plays him so differently. This president is serious and aware of what is going on around him. When he is kidnapped he tries to escape, rather than just rolling over and waiting to be rescued. I loved this movie, mostly because I am a sucker for the gimmick this film is centered around, but William Hurt really surprised me in this film taking a throw away character and making him one of the stronger characters in the entire movie.

#4. President David Kovic aka William Harrison Mitchell  (Kevin Kline, Dave)
I am listing this high for several reasons. One, I have already talked about this movie and what a nice little film this is. Second, David is never really the president as he impersonates President Mitchell through the film. Third, this is a very sugary look at the presidency. If one were to watch this movie one would think that all the president does is make public appearances and pose for pictures. Now I am not trying to take anything away from this film, it is has always been a favorite film of mine, but this movie is so made up it’s almost a fairy tale. Is there anything wrong with that? Of course not. But I guess David Kovic plays the kind of president we would like to get, one who cares more about people than what is popular. Maybe that’s why this film did so well. I think it also works because the actors really seem to be trying, even if it is a silly little film, including Charles Grodin who as a I said before really males the most of a small role.

#3. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman, Independence Day)
Am I the only person who kind of likes Bill Pullman’s character in this movie? Now I am not suggesting that it isn’t kind of corny, but then again the whole film is kind of corny. Thomas Whitmore is a very young president, former fighter pilot in the gulf war who is now a wimpy sort of commander in chief. However as the movie unfolds he finds that strength to really lead. I actually like his speech he gives near the end, corny as it may be, and I think he is one of the more believable characters in the film. Yes, the idea of the president flying off to save the day is a bit nuts (especially with no vice president or active government), but hey if we can accept aliens demolishing our landmarks and the cable guy being the one and only person who can figure out how to stop these aliens, then why not accept the president leading the fighter jets on a final strike?  


#2. President James Marshall (Harrison Ford, Air Force One)
Those who follow me will know I am not a huge action fan. However, there are some action films I did like. Speed, In The Line of Fire, Face Off……and Air Force One. How could you not love the performance that Harrison Ford gives in this movie? It is just so awesome to see a president step up and kick some ass, even if it is unbelievable. However this film does a pretty good job trying to make us believe the situations, that Air Force One has been hijacked by the Soviets, including having Glen Close as a very strong vice president (in most of these films the vice president is either missing or hardly in it, so this was a nice change of pace). This movie is full of thrills and action, and of course gave us that memorable line “Get off my plane!”


#1. President Andrew Sheppard (Michael Douglas, The American President)
This is the top spot because I think this may be one of the more faithful versions of a president we have gotten on screen. He isn’t an action star, a helpless victim, or a goofball who has no idea what he’s doing. In a lot of ways he takes the best aspects of all the men I already listed but in enough quantities to make him believable and likable. We see that the job is not always easy and involves tough choices. This is really just a little Rob Reiner romantic comedy but it’s one of my favorite movies. We get a real feel for how the presidency works in this movie, and it’s no shock to find out that Aaron Sorkin wrote this little screenplay. Bet you can’t get what TV series he created shortly after this? Annette Benning is also a very convincing love interest, not coming on to strong or to corny.     The romance is believable.  Rounding out the cast we have Martin Sheen and Michael J. Fox in one of his more overlooked roles. Andrew Sheppard is a good man who loves his country. One great thing about this film is the character arc he goes through, through the movie is afraid of challenging his opponent but it isn’t until after everything has fallen apart he realizes he has to step up, and does in one of the best speeches in any movie (don’t believe me? Check it out).  If I had to choose one of these characters to be an actual president, it would be this one. Michael Douglas did a great job with the character, and as I noted this is one of my favorite movies ever.



Honorable Mentions
I know people will be screaming that I did not include Morgan Freeman on here. Truth is I have never seen Deep Impact, but have heard Morgan Freeman did a fantastic job as President Beck. Jack Nicholson was great in Mars Attacks as President Dale but I hated that movie so hard I couldn’t even sit through it. While I am of course talking movies here, I had to give a passing reference to President Bartlet played by Martin Sheen on The West Wing which was a great show which I sadly did not see as often as I should have.

August 20, 2012

My Favorite Episodes of Star Trek-The Next Generation


So let's talk about my favorite episodes of Star Trek-TNG.Like the previous article I am going to do this season by season, and I havedecided to pick two episodes per season. A gimmicky episode and one that ismore relevant. Why? Because it's easy to say we love the gimmick episodes, it'swhy they do them so often.  If the storyinvolves cool space battles, time travel, a strange disease infecting the crew,or some other odd occurrence like possession or amnesia it's real easy to likeit. However, those shows aren't what make the series memorable. Anyone can do ashow where time repeats in a loop (and many have) for example. What makes theseries memorable is how they handle the more relevant stories. The episodeswhich you have to really watch and follow the story to appreciate.

By the way sometimes the line between a gimmick episode anda relevant one can blur. For example, "The Loss" is built around agimmick (Troi losing her powers, it's the "blind" episode) but hassome good stuff in it despite that, so these may blend a bit but will try tokeep them separate. Before I discuss my favorite episodes, let’s discuss thevery first one.

August 18, 2012

Random Thoughts-So which Star Trek film is better, Wrath of Khan or The Voyage Home?




I spent a rainy day watching one of my favorite trilogies.No, not Back to the Future, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings. I watched the StarTrek trilogy that was Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, and The Voyage Home. Itgot me thinking, most consider Star Trek II the best Star Trek film. However,my heart has always been with Star Trek IV.

Maybe my opinion of these films is colored by my experienceseeing them. When I saw Star Trek II not only was I a bit young, but I had anannoying kid behind me who wouldn’t shut the heck up! To this day when theRelaint explodes I still remember this brat asking his father what happened toKhan.  I l also remember the ear slugscene…gross! When I saw Star Trek IV, it was a theatre packed with Trek fans thatlaughed at everything and enjoyed the heck out of the movie. It was one of thebest experiences I have ever had at a movie. I didn’t even get all thereferences and gags but I didn’t care it, I loved watching that movie and haveseen it dozens of times including on an airplane.

So, which one was actually better?

Star Trek II is a very good film, let me make that clear.Even watching it again for the umpteenth time I was drawn into the film. Amongother themes the films is about life and death, and has the unquestionable bestvillain in any Trek film. The space battles are excellent. In a lot of way thisfilm gets the closest to those classic episodes where the ship is fighting someenemy. It manages to do what the first movie could not, mix the action with thecharacters. The problem with the first movie was that they went special effectshappy, here we get a good story told very well and it feels like a Star Trekmovie this time.

Star Trek IV is an environmental movie, and one which keepsthe preaching to a minimum. Thankfully. It is a much lighter tone but it doesn’tdegrade into camp. The jokes feel natural and the story is effective. This filmfeels like the lighter Trek episodes, most notably Trouble with Tribbles. Evernotice there really isn’t a villain in this film? Yet somehow the movie works.The humor is great and we get less action and more character moments, and Ithink therein lies the big difference.

If you watch Star Trek II you see a very solid movie, butthe other characters don’t have much to do. Chekov disappears once he is nolonger useful to Khan (I never understood why they all go into the cavern andleave him lying there with a bloody ear), Sulu hardly does anything, Uhura sitsbehind that console the entire movie, and Scotty has some great scenes regardinghis nephew but that’s all. And to be honest, I hated having Scotty emotional likethat. It just never felt right to me. Before I continue let me say the argumentthat Khan couldn’t have recognized Chekov because Chekov wasn’t in the episodeis dumb. Why couldn’t he have been on the ship somewhere?

In Star Trek IV everyone has something to do. Okay some geta little less than others, especially Sulu who has his big scene cut becausethe child actor didn’t cooperate, but this is definitely a strong charactermovie. We have Spock go through a whole story arc and not only does it get agreat resolution but it also ties up loose ends from the series regarding hisfather, Kirk finally gets his command back and even gets to flirt with a girllike in the series, Uhura gets a little stiffed but Chekov gets that greatscene on the ship, Scotty gets the scene in the plastic factory and of courseMcCoy gets to play doctor in the 20th century.  I think that is what makes this movie sowatchable, that and the fact the humor is just right. Unlike the next movie, itdoesn’t cross the line into campy or lame.

What The Voyage Home is missing is good action and a strongvillain. That is where Khan comes in. The space battle between the Enterpriseand Reliant is probably the best space battle of any movie. It’s a fact thatKhan and Kirk never have an actual scene together, but somehow we don’t care.The drama and tension is perfect, and of course we have the heart breakingmoment when Kirk finally has to face death when his best friend sacrificeshimself for the ship. This scene is one of the most moving in Trek history,  though the ending of IV still brings a smileto my face when we see the new Enterprise-A. I love that moment.

IV is like a breath of fresh air after all the death in the previoustwo. However as much as I loved Star Trek IV, I was kind of looking forward tothe next film being a more typical space adventure. Of course who knew how muchI would hate Star Trek V, but that is getting way off topic. My favorite scenein that film is when the Klingon vessel decloaks in front of the whaling ship.I loved that freaking moment! Star Trek Ii really has no one scene that standsout, for me the movie is just one strong film start to finish. There is nomoment that I love to see more than another and it took many viewings toappreciate the subtleties in the story. I missed it when I was young.

So I guess it comes down to what you want in a Star Trekfilm. Star Trek II is a very well done movie, hitting almost every mark justperfectly. It tells a good story very well with a darker tone. Star Trek IV is more of a character piece and is just more fun to watch; you always end up smiling by the end of thefilm no matter how many times you have seen it. This is why the movie reachedthe largest audience; it just had a larger appeal. Do you want to see the character grow and interact or an epic space battle? Star Trek II may be astronger film, but Star Trek IV is just a more enjoyable ride.  I don’t think either is better, they are twovery different films which achieve very different things very well.

By the way, I loved Star Trek III also even though it is notthe on the level of either the second of fourth.  I still enjoy watching it.

August 16, 2012

Eight Great Songs from Eight Not So Great Animated Movies

Last year I did list of great Christmas songs from not so great Christmas movies. I then followed it up with a list of pop songs which are much better known than the movie which spawned them. Today I am going to go over eight songs from animated movies where the song is more highly regarded than the film which originated it.

#8. "At the Beginning" from Anastasia
Nothing taking Russian history and doing whatever we want with it. This film wasn't that bad but it wasn't great either. What was pretty good was this cool song which came from the movie.


#7. "The Prayer" from Quest for Camelot
This is a beautiful little song from Celine Dion, among others, and I enjoy listening to it during the holidays. I was very surprised that such a nice song came from such a crappy movie. If you saw the Nostalgia Critic's review I don't need to explain why it was bad, but the song is beautiful.

#6. "When You Believe" from The Prince of Egypt
Cheating a little on this one because this was a decent movie. At least, I've heard it was because I've never seen it. I am including it because I think the song by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston was more popular than the actual film turned out to be.

#5. "Why Should I Worry" from Oliver & Company
Oliver & Company came along just before the Disney renassaicne in the late 90's. To be fair, this movie isn't that good. It isn't bad either, but compared to the masterpieces that followed it doesn't match up. However this song by Billy Joel is awesome, and once you hear it you will never forget it.

#4. "Reflection" from Mulan
I may be off base saying this was bad, this is another one which I never saw but fell in love with the song anyway. The movie is probably fine, but the song is amazing.

#3. "You'll Be In My Heart" from Tarzan
I actually liked this movie, and I enjoyed the Phil Collins song which was featured in it. No complaints here, decent movie and a great song

#2. "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" from Song of the South
What can you say about this movie? Boring? Hell yeah. A little racist? Sure. Makes no sense? Well that may be pushing it a bit. This movie has one thing going for it, and it's this little upbeat number which is real fun to sing.

#1. "Go the Distance" from Hercules
Who knew it would be a Michael Bolton song that would be the best part of a Disney movie? This movie was just lousy, but at least we got this song out of it.

That's it, hope you liked it

August 14, 2012

Top 5 Favorite "Feel Good" Movies


Top 5 favorite feel good movies

I love feel good movies! You know what I mean, those films which may not be the greatest movies ever made but at the same they make you feel good when you watch them. They are sometimes called sleeper hits because by all rights they should not be hits at all. They are not epic in scope with casts of thousands and state of the art special effects. They are films about people and do not have superheroes as the lead characters or over the top villains bent on conquering the world. They are little movies that we pop in when we are having a tough day and need a little pick me up. They can be corny and even a bit farfetched, in fact part of the fun is nitpicking these films because it’s so easy, but we love them anyway. There are dozens of these kinds of films, but today I want to talk about five of my favorites.

#5. City Slickers
Gotta be honest, this movie hasn't aged well. I watched it again recently and for some reason it was sillier than I remembered. This was a big hit in 1991? But putting that aside, it's still fun to watch. The film is basically about Billy Crystal having a mid-life crisis so he goes on a cattle drive with his friends. There are some great moments, mostly thanks to the late great Jack Palance, but there is a lot of silliness too. I mean, we have a crazy drunk of a cook who causes trouble for no reason plus two cow hands who are drunken jerks? And how did the three friends manage to actually get the herd back when they had no idea where the ranch was? Yeah that gets harder and harder to buy, but even so there are some great character moments and an ending that always makes me smile. What more can I ask for? By the way, the sequel succkkkeed!!

#4.Dave
This movie is a marvel. First of all, it stars Kevin Kline who I hate. Second, when you listen to the premise it sounds ridiculous. The chief of staff gets a guy who looks like the president so he can take his place in a scheme to steal the presidency from the vice president. Really? Sounds almost idiotic, and yet the charm in this movie just overwhelms it and we ignore how idiotic the plot is. Yeah, we can nitpick this too. In real life the press would see through the scheme and be all over it. Here, they just shrug and accept it. Better like cameos, because this film is stuffed with them. I think the performances really carry this one. Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Dunn, Charles Grodin (who does so much with such a small role) and Frank Langella are perfect. Plus they needed an A list actor for the vice-president, and who do they get? Gandhi! Yep Ben Kingsley is in this and is really good. He knows it’s a silly movie and yet he takes it seriously. This movie is really underappreciated; if you're looking for a nice little fluff film then check it out I think you'll be pleased.

#3. Field of Dreams
This movie is remarkable. It makes no sense and should be boring as hell! Kevin Costner builds a baseball diamond into his corn field because a voice told him to. Yeah, that's it! However, this movie seems to reach something inside of us and the story just works. Maybe it's because I love Baseball, or maybe because it's a simple but effective story. This film is a bit surreal and, to be honest, real hard to take seriously. I mean what are we supposed to make of the scene where ghosts appear and play a game in the middle of the field? Or the end where the shot pulls out and we see the backup of cars coming to see the field? “If you build it…he will come”.  But I love the speech James Earl Jones gives at the end about Baseball, it’s a great speech and he delivers it well. I know people think Darth Vadar and Mu fasa when they think James Earl Jones, I think his “People will come” speech. So I can forgive the fact this movie doesn’t really make any sense. Oh, and it’s also Burt Lancaster’s final film role and it’s a great one.


#2. Pretty Woman
Unrealisic? Hell yeah. Corny dialogue? Yep. A cliche'd happy ending? Hm hmm! Then why do we love this movie? Because Richard Gere and Julia Roberts have some of the best chemistry ever put to film. It was because of them, and the other amazing actors in this including Larry Miller, Laura San Giacomo,  and Jason Alexander, that made us love this movie. Original a dark drama until Gar Marshall got a hold of it, this wasn’t just a hit in 1990, it was a monster hit! I still remember watching this in theatre’s and just loving every minute. I guess that’s the rule for all these movies, you don’t need the strongest script as long as you have strong characters we love and really care about. The other thing that I loved in this movie was the music. That soundtrack was awesome and still enjoy it to this day!  Yes I saw Runaway Bride with Roberts and Gere and it good but not quite as good as this one.


#1.Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
I loved watching this movie as a kid. Loved it. Believe it or not I was never a big fan of John Hughes. It took me years to appreciate The Breakfast Club (which really is very good), even longer to appreciate Trains, Planes, and Autombiles. However Ferris was the exception. I loved this movie (have I said that yet?). I used to watch it all the time if I was home sick or something. Then I got older and watched it again, and still love it! Matthew Broderick has so much charm that he can take a character we should despise (let’s be honest here) and love him! I mean think about it, Ferris breaks rules, defies the law, and uses people and yet we can’t get enough! This is basically the story of a senior in high school taking off from high school one day for no good reason. He gets girlfriend and buddy to come along, and there we go. This movie is just so much fun to watch, and I have seen it a hundred times.

HONORABLE MENTION
Back To The Future
I left this off the list because this was not a little movie that people should not have liked, but instead they loved. This was a big hit with good reason, like Ghostbusters the year before.  Also I have talked about this before so I don’t think  I need to explain again how much I loved this movie. This movie is an example of a perfect movie (perfect is not the same as great). It is a great story, memorable characters, just enough action and suspense, and follows a logical plot that results in a satisfying conclusion. To put it simply, it does everything that a good movie should do. And I have seen it a million times, and even went on the ride at Universal Studios (totally worth the hour long line!)



Why are most of these films from the 90’s? Guess it’s because I don’t see movies as often as I used to and all of these I saw in theatres. Limiting this list to five leaves off tons of great films. Princess Bride, Groundhog Day, Father of the Bride, Ghost, Forrest Gump, Bruce Almighty, Defending Your Life (I dare you not to smile at the end of this one!), and almost anything Disney related. Truth is these films are my favorite kind of films, I don’t go to movies to be depressed or have my whole life changed. I just want to be entertained for a couple hours. What are your favorites?

August 13, 2012

My Tribute to Star Trek-The Next Generation Part 1





This year marks the 25th anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek-The Next Generation, As part of my celebreation, I present an article I wrote some time ago about the worst episode of Next Generation. Next week I will discuss the episodes I loved.

Which is really the worst Star Trek-The Next Generation episode?In my previous blog about the worst of Star Trek, I pointed how a famously bad episode, “Spock’s Brain”, in fact may not be the very worst episode after all. Not to say it was good, because it wasn’t, but there are worst.

Now I wanted to shift focus on Next Gen. Many people consider “Shades of Gray” the worst episode ever. For those who may not know, this was a clip-show which ended the 2nd season. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bad. However, there are worst episodes and to prove my point, I am going to list seven episodes, one from each season, which I think are actually worst, or at least just as bad, as this show. One quick comment, why would someone do a clip show after just two seasons? Anyway, on to the list and remember this is just opinion. Feel free to disagree.

Season 1, “Skin of Evil”. This is a hard choice because most of the episodes of this season are sub-par. However, I chose this episode because of the cold way that it deals with the death of character Tasha Yar. I realize the creators weren’t thrilled Denise Crosby wanted to leave, but to give her such a meaningless death was just cruel. Thank goodness they made up for it in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. The alien was also silly, an oil slick? Really? There were many other horrible shows including Code of Honor. In fact it's almost remarkable the show made it out of the 1st season!

August 10, 2012

Analytical Episode Guide-Seinfeld (Season 9, Part 4)

Analytical Episode Guide-Seinfeld (Season 9, Part 4)



An Analytical Episode Guide to:



Season 9, Part 4

Episode 19, Season 9
The Maid

Plot Summary-Jerry hired a maid and the starts to date her. George gets an unwanted nickname at work. Kramer’s girlfriend moves downtown. Elaine resent her new area code.
Best Quote-“Well there’s nothing more sophisticated than diddling the maid and chewing some gum”….Elaine
Nitpick of the episode-Do I really have to get into the idiocy of the Kramer story? Why does he act like a few miles away is equivalent to hundreds of miles away? By the way, isn’t Jerry a neat freak? What the heck does he need a maid for?
Seinfeldism of the episode-Koko, that chimp’s alright (yeah, I hate it to)
Deleted Scenes-George sneaking the maid into the meeting
Episode Fun Fact-Was the scene where the firefighters storm into Elaine’s apartment intended as homage to Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Christmas Vacation? If not it’s a big coincidence that a very similar thing happens to her in that film. This is sort of the last regular episode of this show.
Final Thoughts-The fact that this was the third to last episode kills me. It’s so dumb! First we have George’s story. What is dumb about this isn’t the nickname part, I kind of get that, it’s the name he gets stuck with. Did the writers of this show have some kind of fascination with Koko the Monkey? She was a throw away joke in “The Dealership” and here she is a plot point! Ah, guys, the monkey isn’t that funny! And the solution about bringing a maid in who happens to have that name is lame. Elaine’s story about the new area code is also really good, until she gets the wrong number from the kid. Then it just gets, well, uncomfortable. Obviously the writers had no idea what to do with this premise. And why didn’t the firefighters even try knocking on her door first? And they can’t tell Elaine isn’t a dying grandmother? Then we have Kramer’s story, which I have already pointed out is lame. Kramer had been doing so well this season, until they decided to make him an idiot over these last few episodes. Sure it’s not too bad in the start but it gets so lame! The scene at the end where he is crying he is lost is dumb!!!! Ever heard of a cab? Or the subway? Finally, we have Jerry’s story about the maid. This isn’t so bad either, but then it becomes a metaphor for prostitution and somehow by the end of this episode I fell, well, dirty. Esepcially that last scene with Kramer, god is that uncomfortable. There is one good gag, when the four friends try to have a conversation at the counter. We get a great example why this has never been done before. Other than that, I hated this episode.
Grade=C-, every story starts strong but ends poorly

Episode 20, Season 9
The Puerto Rican Day
 
Plot Summary-Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer get stuck in traffic during New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade
Best Quote-“It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico”….Kramer
Nitpick of the episode-First of all, if I were in a theatre and someone was aiming a laser pointer at the screen, I WOULD NOT be laughing and commenting on how brilliant the guy was. I would be aggravated beyond belief!!  That scene always pisses me off! Who laughs at that while trying to watch the movie? And news flash George, your zinger is stupid and flat out insensitive. The real question of course is how does this laser pointer guy manage to keep a bead on George no matter where George may be standing?
Seinfeldism of the episode- this is the only time that Kramer, Jerry, and George’s alter ego’s Pennypacker, Varnsen, and Vandelay manage to appear in the same scene
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-Of course there was a whole controversy with this episode regarding the scene where Kramer burns the Puerto Rican flag and the general way that Puerto Ricans were portrayed. I always felt that this all blown way out of context. Seinfeld has done more potentially offensive stuff which never offended anyone. I think that some people saw a chance for a little attention with all the hype surrounding the show, and made a big deal out of this issue. Jerry Seinfeld himself admitted that once the finale aired, this issue very quickly disappeared.  By the way, almost every writer has their hand on this one because it was last episode written by the standard writing staff.
Final Thoughts-The idea of the gang being stuck in a traffic is very good one. Who hasn’t had to deal with that situation? Too bad they had to muck it up. To be fair, it does feel like it’s trying to be a classic episode. And in some ways it succeeds. But stupid things have to pop in, most notably is George and his idiotic laser pointer story. What the heck was that all about? Elaine’s story is pretty good; she is just trying to get home and ends up in a “Poseidon Adventure”-esque situation. Kramer is pretty good in this one, thankfully, and it is clear that his burning the flag was an accident. In fact he is the only one of the four excited to be there. Jerry once again really has no story, as he lets the other three take over. Well, he does exchange insults with the other car but that hardly counts as a story. I would say it was nice to see Cedric and Bob again, but I never cared much for them. Despite the controversy I kind of liked this episode, pretty good especially for a season 9 episode.
Grade=B-, feels more like a classic episode but still not quite. Maybe if they’d lost that idiotic laser pointer nonsense

Episode 21 & 22, Season 9
The Chronicle

Plot Summary-A special look back at the last nine years
Best Quote-“It seemed like every week a whole new set of problems would just crop up out of nowhere. Except for summer, where nothing seemed to happen for months at a time”….Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-Missing clips they featured in the first clip show, I get why they weren’t included but some would have been nice
Seinfeldism of the episode-The whole show
Deleted Scenes-Originally the network cut a lot of it out
Episode Fun Fact-NBC cut this short to make room for the very large final episode, it also has a second opening for the syndicated re-runs that did not appear in the original show
Final Thoughts-Of course this aired just before the finale, and in fact I enjoyed this clip show more than the actual episode. Especially the opening to the Superman theme, brilliant. This was a great way to get us excited for the ultimate disappointment to come
Grade=A+

Episode 23 & 24, Season 9
The Finale

 
Plot Summary-NBC decides to produce Jerry and George’s sitcom. As a treat, they give the gang free use of the corporate jet. On the way to Paris, an emergency landing causes them to land in a small town in Massachusetts. When they fail to act to stop a mugging, the four get arrested for violating the Good Samaritan Law.
Best Quote- "The second button is the key button. It literally makes or breaks the shirt. Look at it. It's too high. It's in no-man's land."
"Haven't we had this conversation before?"
"You think?"
"I think we have."
"Yeah, maybe we have."……..Jerry and George in the episode’s final lines which are also the very first lines of the pilot, one touch I really liked
Nitpick of the episode-Gee, where do I begin? I think I will defer all comments to the end. I will say one thing. GOOD SAMARTIAN LAW????????  WTF???? Ok to be fair there is a law in Massachusetts requiring that people report a crime if they witness one occurring. But guess what, the punishment is just a stiff fine (not even close to the one said in the show) and no jail time!! I don’t think not helping someone would result in the trial of the century! Plus, the crime that Jerry and friends commit would not technically be a violation of “The Good Samaritan Law”  which is to protect accident victims or people who are hurt and injured, and the law they did “violate” applies in certain situations-not the one the four find themselves in! They couldn’t have made this up more if they tried!!!!! Ok, got to calm down, haven’t even gotten to the final thoughts yet.
Seinfeldism of the episode-George admits he cheated during “The Contest”, Jerry discourages George from starting an open door urination policy. Elaine has trouble with cellphone etiquette including a phone face off
Deleted Scenes-WAAAYY to much to list here. Let’s just say that lots of great moments were cut out, and thank heavens we can see them on the DVD. I would love to see this moments recut into the episode sometime.
Episode Fun Fact-Of course, series creator Larry David returned to write this final episode. I was happy about that, until I saw the episode. One bright side is that his return meant Jerry was able to do some original stand up for the opening. Seeing that red curtain again and having the show start out like a classic episode made me very happy. That feeling did not last.
Final Thoughts-Well, here we are at long last. The series finale. Let’s start with the good stuff first, at least as much of it as there is. What I liked the finale:
*The first fifteen minutes. It felt like a regular Seinfeld episode, and a good one. I also liked that they resurrected “Jerry”. Alas, they had to get on that plane!
*All the guest spots. Yeah, it was fun to see all those recurring characters again even if it spoiled the episode at the same time. I was surprise to see The Virgin, and glad they did Steinbrenner one last time.
*That cell phone etiquette made into an episode. This was just before the cell phone eruption, but was happy to see it made it into one script.
*They landed in Massachusetts (I live there, that’s why) although Latham is a fake town
*Jackie Chiles opening remarks. I like it because I agree with everything he says
*They remembered the early years. I was afraid they would totally ignore the first couple years but we get callbacks to “The Parking Garage”, “The Library”, “The Red Dot” (in a deleted scene) and of course “The Café”.  I was happy to see them remember those classic episodes.
*The judge was named Art Vandelay (predictable but still a cute touch) and they brought Babu back (just wish the circumstances were different)
Ok, let me make one thing clear. I understand this is Seinfeld. I wasn’t expecting an ending like The Mary Tyler Moore Show where the gang was hugging and crying. I do also understand they were never going to live up to all the hype, I get that. What I would have liked was a throwback to the early days, and just do a nice slow paced episode commenting on the things the show may have missed. Kind of like the last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (only maybe a little bigger than that). Instead what did we get? The equivalent of the cast and crew giving us the finger. Yes others have said that before me but it sums it up so well. It was like we were being told that we were fools for loving this show for nine years, and that is not the way you want to treat your loyal audience.
Actually, this whole episode could have been salvaged if they had just done one thing. One last scene, fast forward one year if they want, with the gang back in the apartment. Show that they learned nothing as they bicker about something, and that’s it. Throwing them in prison was like a punch to the gut, I was enraged when I saw this. No exaggeration, I swore I’d never watch another Seinfeld again.  Since then I have seen the episode a few times and realized…..it could have been worst I guess. It started so good, classic Seinfeld and some great callbacks. But I knew I was in trouble when I heard Newman’s speech about a wind coming in and shaking up Jerry’s play world. And then they got on that plane! From then on the episode went swiftly downhill.  I kept hoping it would get better, but it never did. There were very small B stories here. We had the story with Elaine and phone etiquette. Kramer getting water stuck in his ear. Forgetting they did that already, how long is he stuck with that in his ear? And of course George complaining that the waitress and later the guard is ignoring him. These were cute but of course the bulk of the episode was the dumb trial story.To be fair, again, I do understand what they were going for. But the creators made a couple fatal mistakes which just ruined the show.
So where exactly did this episode go wrong? Larry David decided to punish Jerry, George, Elaine, and even Kramer because they were not the nicest people, being selfish and greedy and so on.  Fair enough. But the creators forgot two things. The four were not all evil, there were redeeming traits. For example when Babu was sent back to Pakistan they did care. Babu says “but they don’t care, they’re completely indifferent!” Well, no. Not really. I mean Jerry and Elaine were upset about it and did try to get a lawyer to help him. It didn’t work out but it was not the way it was portrayed here as if they were mocking and laughing at him. Even when Susan died, I think George was happy the problem was solved not that she was dead.  He admitted he mourned for her in his own way. Sometimes I think the creators wanted the characters to be totally evil but that never happened. Their likability always came out. The second thing the writers forgot is that most of the time, the characters got punished for the bad things they did. There is very little that didn’t come to bite them one way or another. Did Jerry get punished for stealing the rye? Hell yeah! The worst thing is that to make this episode work most of the things brought up in the trial were misunderstandings. Elaine did not try to kill Mr.Pitt, Jerry and Elaine had no idea about Poppie’s condition (deleted scene has Poppie bringing this up as if Jerry and Elaine knew full well the harm that would be caused) and of course the fact Jerry apologized is not mentioned, Elaine falling into Sidra was an accident, Kramer was not a pimp, George was not a communist, Jerry thought he returned that library book, and if the low talker had spoken up Jerry would have never been stuck in the puffy shirt! And by the way, how does the contest make them horrible people exactly? Having to stretch or exaggerate the situations to make the plot work is what hurt the show more than anything else.
Jerry Seinfeld commented that one of the things people hated about this was that it didn’t feel like a Seinfeld episode because it was so big. You know what, I agree 100%! This didn’t feel like a Seinfeld episode and that also hurt it. In fact as the show goes on the four kind of vanish, it almost becomes the story of the guest stars rather than the story of the regulars! I remember wondering what the heck I was watching my first time. My big question about that trial is, why didn’t their friends testify? Bania, Mickey, Keith, and even J.Peterman never said anything in their defense (deleted scenes included). How about their parents or even Uncle Leo? Also, why didn’t we see Jackie Chiles cross examine anyone? He could have established, for example, that George may have gotten into the fight with The Bubble Boy but it was Susan who popped the bubble. Or that the Soup Nazi was incredibly rude to Elaine justifying her actions later. I can defend almost everything in this episode (except George storming over the kids and screaming about the fire, that one is kind of hard to excuse) and demonstrate at least within reasonable doubt that most of the time the four are victims of circumstance and not evil people who mock society.
It is clear that Larry David wanted the four to end up in jail, so much so he made it so they didn’t even get a fair shot. Worse than that, the characters were written flat out wrong to make the story work. Larry David said if he were to do this episode over the only thing he would change would be to make the gang cowardly rather than mocking during the mugging. Again, I agree! When have we ever seen Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer act so coldly? Even George is out of character in that scene. To be blunt, this was a badly written episode. I hated the tag in the end, why would Jerry, George, and Kramer be in maximum security? They didn’t kill someone!  Apparently they added that because they realized the ending with the line from the pilot was too bittersweet, they needed something else. Yeah, nothing like hitting us when we’re down! Thanks guys! It was just the icing on the cake of what was a really really disappointing way to end one of the best series ever.
Grade=C-, average to be kind which is a tragedy for a series finale. Talk about going out with a whimper



Before we conclude I wanted to briefly mention the Seinfeld reunion which took place a few years ago on Curb Your Enthusiasm. I was excited to hear they were doing a mock reunion, but had to wait for the dvd’s to watch it. When I did, I was impressed. They did a good job recreating the sets and bringing the characters back to life. They also took the chance to show different angles which we never saw on Seinfeld, like what a coffee shop scene looked like from reverse. While it didn’t make me wish the show was still on, the episode felt like a late season episode of Seinfeld which isn’t a good thing, it was nice to have the gang back one last time and did make up for the finale a bit. In fact the mock reunion was a great example of what I would have like the finale to be, not the overblown mess we ended up with.

 

Well, that’s it. 9 seasons, 180 episodes. I have had lots of fun watching these episodes again, getting to see the stuff that you can’t due to syndication. I feel like I got to experience the show all over and even learned a few new things on the way. If you had the same experience than I have accomplished what I set out to do. This show is very special to me, when it first came on I was in high school. When it ended I had been married for over a year! This show was a big part of my life and every season brings back all sorts of great memories.
 

Not sure if I will do one of these again, so I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. If you didn’t, well, that’s a shame.  :)

Analytical Episode Guide-Seinfeld (Season 9, Part 4)




An Analytical Episode Guide to:



Season 9, Part 4

Episode 19, Season 9
The Maid

Plot Summary-Jerry hired a maid and the starts to date her. George gets an unwanted nickname at work. Kramer’s girlfriend moves downtown. Elaine resent her new area code.
Best Quote-“Well there’s nothing more sophisticated than diddling the maid and chewing some gum”….Elaine
Nitpick of the episode-Do I really have to get into the idiocy of the Kramer story? Why does he act like a few miles away is equivalent to hundreds of miles away? By the way, isn’t Jerry a neat freak?
 What the heck does he need a maid for?
Seinfeldism of the episode-Koko, that chimp’s alright (yeah, I hate it to)
Deleted Scenes-George sneaking the maid into the meeting
Episode Fun Fact-Was the scene where the firefighters storm into Elaine’s apartment intended as homage to Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Christmas Vacation? If not it’s a big coincidence that a very similar thing happens to her in that film. This is sort of the last regular episode of this show.
Final Thoughts-The fact that this was the third to last episode kills me. It’s so dumb! First we have George’s story. What is dumb about this isn’t the nickname part, I kind of get that, it’s the name he gets stuck with. Did the writers of this show have some kind of fascination with Koko the Monkey? She was a throw away joke in “The Dealership” and here she is a plot point! Ah, guys, the monkey isn’t that funny! And the solution about bringing a maid in who happens to have that name is lame. Elaine’s story about the new area code is also really good, until she gets the wrong number from the kid. Then it just gets, well, uncomfortable. Obviously the writers had no idea what to do with this premise. And why didn’t the firefighters even try knocking on her door first? And they can’t tell Elaine isn’t a dying grandmother? Then we have Kramer’s story, which I have already pointed out is lame. Kramer had been doing so well this season, until they decided to make him an idiot over these last few episodes. Sure it’s not too bad in the start but it gets so lame! The scene at the end where he is crying he is lost is dumb!!!! Ever heard of a cab? Or the subway? Finally, we have Jerry’s story about the maid. This isn’t so bad either, but then it becomes a metaphor for prostitution and somehow by the end of this episode I fell, well, dirty. Esepcially that last scene with Kramer, god is that uncomfortable. There is one good gag, when the four friends try to have a conversation at the counter. We get a great example why this has never been done before. Other than that, I hated this episode.

Grade=C-, every story starts strong but ends poorly


Episode 20, Season 9
The Puerto Rican Day
 
Plot Summary-Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer get stuck in traffic during New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade
Best Quote-“It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico”….Kramer
Nitpick of the episode-First of all, if I were in a theatre and someone was aiming a laser pointer at the screen, I WOULD NOT be laughing and commenting on how brilliant the guy was. I would be aggravated beyond belief!!  That scene always pisses me off! Who laughs at that while trying to watch the movie? And news flash George, your zinger is stupid and flat out insensitive. The real question of course is how does this laser pointer guy manage to keep a bead on George no matter where George may be standing?
Seinfeldism of the episode- this is the only time that Kramer, Jerry, and George’s alter ego’s Pennypacker, Varnsen, and Vandelay manage to appear in the same scene
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-Of course there was a whole controversy with this episode regarding the scene where Kramer burns the Puerto Rican flag and the general way that Puerto Ricans were portrayed. I always felt that this all blown way out of context. Seinfeld has done more potentially offensive stuff which never offended anyone. I think that some people saw a chance for a little attention with all the hype surrounding the show, and made a big deal out of this issue. Jerry Seinfeld himself admitted that once the finale aired, this issue very quickly disappeared.  By the way, almost every writer has their hand on this one because it was last episode written by the standard writing staff.
Final Thoughts-The idea of the gang being stuck in a traffic is very good one. Who hasn’t had to deal with that situation? Too bad they had to muck it up. To be fair, it does feel like it’s trying to be a classic episode. And in some ways it succeeds. But stupid things have to pop in, most notably is George and his idiotic laser pointer story. What the heck was that all about? Elaine’s story is pretty good; she is just trying to get home and ends up in a “Poseidon Adventure”-esque situation. Kramer is pretty good in this one, thankfully, and it is clear that his burning the flag was an accident. In fact he is the only one of the four excited to be there. Jerry once again really has no story, as he lets the other three take over. Well, he does exchange insults with the other car but that hardly counts as a story. I would say it was nice to see Cedric and Bob again, but I never cared much for them. Despite the controversy I kind of liked this episode, pretty good especially for a season 9 episode.

Grade=B-, feels more like a classic episode but still not quite. Maybe if they’d lost that idiotic laser pointer nonsense




Episode 21 & 22, Season 9
The Chronicle

Plot Summary-A special look back at the last nine years
Best Quote-“It seemed like every week a whole new set of problems would just crop up out of nowhere. Except for summer, where nothing seemed to happen for months at a time”….Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-Missing clips they featured in the first clip show, I get why they weren’t included but some would have been nice
Seinfeldism of the episode-The whole show
Deleted Scenes-Originally the network cut a lot of it out
Episode Fun Fact-NBC cut this short to make room for the very large final episode, it also has a second opening for the syndicated re-runs that did not appear in the original show
Final Thoughts-Of course this aired just before the finale, and in fact I enjoyed this clip show more than the actual episode. Especially the opening to the Superman theme, brilliant. This was a great way to get us excited for the ultimate disappointment to come
Grade=A+


Episode 23 & 24, Season 9
The Finale

 
Plot Summary-NBC decides to produce Jerry and George’s sitcom. As a treat, they give the gang free use of the corporate jet. On the way to Paris, an emergency landing causes them to land in a small town in Massachusetts. When they fail to act to stop a mugging, the four get arrested for violating the Good Samaritan Law.
Best Quote- "The second button is the key button. It literally makes or breaks the shirt. Look at it. It's too high. It's in no-man's land."
"Haven't we had this conversation before?"
"You think?"
"I think we have."
"Yeah, maybe we have."……..Jerry and George in the episode’s final lines which are also the very first lines of the pilot, one touch I really liked
Nitpick of the episode-Gee, where do I begin? I think I will defer all comments to the end. I will say one thing. GOOD SAMARITAN LAW????????  WTF???? Ok to be fair there is a law in Massachusetts requiring that people report a crime if they witness one occurring. But guess what, the punishment is just a stiff fine (not even close to the one said in the show) and no jail time!! I don’t think not helping someone would result in the trial of the century! Plus, the crime that Jerry and friends commit would not technically be a violation of “The Good Samaritan Law”  which is to protect accident victims or people who are hurt and injured, and the law they did “violate” applies in certain situations-not the one the four find themselves in! They couldn’t have made this up more if they tried!!!!! Ok, got to calm down, haven’t even gotten to the final thoughts yet.
Seinfeldism of the episode-George admits he cheated during “The Contest”, Jerry discourages George from starting an open door urination policy. Elaine has trouble with cellphone etiquette including a phone face off
Deleted Scenes-WAAAYY to much to list here. Let’s just say that lots of great moments were cut out, and thank heavens we can see them on the DVD. I would love to see this moments recut into the episode sometime.
Episode Fun Fact-Of course, series creator Larry David returned to write this final episode. I was happy about that, until I saw the episode. One bright side is that his return meant Jerry was able to do some original stand up for the opening. Seeing that red curtain again and having the show start out like a classic episode made me very happy. That feeling did not last.
Final Thoughts-Well, here we are at long last. The series finale. Let’s start with the good stuff first, at least as much of it as there is. What I liked the finale:
*The first fifteen minutes. It felt like a regular Seinfeld episode, and a good one. I also liked that they resurrected “Jerry”. Alas, they had to get on that plane!
*All the guest spots. Yeah, it was fun to see all those recurring characters again even if it spoiled the episode at the same time. I was surprise to see The Virgin, and glad they did Steinbrenner one last time.
*That cell phone etiquette made into an episode. This was just before the cell phone eruption, but was happy to see it made it into one script.
*They landed in Massachusetts (I live there, that’s why) although Latham is a fake town
*Jackie Chiles opening remarks. I like it because I agree with everything he says
*They remembered the early years. I was afraid they would totally ignore the first couple years but we get callbacks to “The Parking Garage”, “The Library”, “The Red Dot” (in a deleted scene) and of course “The Café”.  I was happy to see them remember those classic episodes.
*The judge was named Art Vandelay (predictable but still a cute touch) and they brought Babu back (just wish the circumstances were different)
Ok, let me make one thing clear. I understand this is Seinfeld. I wasn’t expecting an ending like The Mary Tyler Moore Show where the gang was hugging and crying. I do also understand they were never going to live up to all the hype, I get that. What I would have liked was a throwback to the early days, and just do a nice slow paced episode commenting on the things the show may have missed. Kind of like the last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond (only maybe a little bigger than that). Instead what did we get? The equivalent of the cast and crew giving us the finger. Yes others have said that before me but it sums it up so well. It was like we were being told that we were fools for loving this show for nine years, and that is not the way you want to treat your loyal audience.
Actually, this whole episode could have been salvaged if they had just done one thing. One last scene, fast forward one year if they want, with the gang back in the apartment. Show that they learned nothing as they bicker about something, and that’s it. Throwing them in prison was like a punch to the gut, I was enraged when I saw this. No exaggeration, I swore I’d never watch another Seinfeld again.  Since then I have seen the episode a few times and realized…..it could have been worst I guess. It started so good, classic Seinfeld and some great callbacks. But I knew I was in trouble when I heard Newman’s speech about a wind coming in and shaking up Jerry’s play world. And then they got on that plane! From then on the episode went swiftly downhill.  I kept hoping it would get better, but it never did. There were very small B stories here. We had the story with Elaine and phone etiquette. Kramer getting water stuck in his ear. Forgetting they did that already, how long is he stuck with that in his ear? And of course George complaining that the waitress and later the guard is ignoring him. These were cute but of course the bulk of the episode was the dumb trial story.To be fair, again, I do understand what they were going for. But the creators made a couple fatal mistakes which just ruined the show.
So where exactly did this episode go wrong? Larry David decided to punish Jerry, George, Elaine, and even Kramer because they were not the nicest people, being selfish and greedy and so on.  Fair enough. But the creators forgot two things. The four were not all evil, there were redeeming traits. For example when Babu was sent back to Pakistan they did care. Babu says “but they don’t care, they’re completely indifferent!” Well, no. Not really. I mean Jerry and Elaine were upset about it and did try to get a lawyer to help him. It didn’t work out but it was not the way it was portrayed here as if they were mocking and laughing at him. Even when Susan died, I think George was happy the problem was solved not that she was dead.  He admitted he mourned for her in his own way. Sometimes I think the creators wanted the characters to be totally evil but that never happened. Their likability always came out. The second thing the writers forgot is that most of the time, the characters got punished for the bad things they did. There is very little that didn’t come to bite them one way or another. Did Jerry get punished for stealing the rye? Hell yeah! The worst thing is that to make this episode work most of the things brought up in the trial were misunderstandings. Elaine did not try to kill Mr.Pitt, Jerry and Elaine had no idea about Poppie’s condition (deleted scene has Poppie bringing this up as if Jerry and Elaine knew full well the harm that would be caused) and of course the fact Jerry apologized is not mentioned, Elaine falling into Sidra was an accident, Kramer was not a pimp, George was not a communist, Jerry thought he returned that library book, and if the low talker had spoken up Jerry would have never been stuck in the puffy shirt! And by the way, how does the contest make them horrible people exactly? Having to stretch or exaggerate the situations to make the plot work is what hurt the show more than anything else.
Jerry Seinfeld commented that one of the things people hated about this was that it didn’t feel like a Seinfeld episode because it was so big. You know what, I agree 100%! This didn’t feel like a Seinfeld episode and that also hurt it. In fact as the show goes on the four kind of vanish, it almost becomes the story of the guest stars rather than the story of the regulars! I remember wondering what the heck I was watching my first time. My big question about that trial is, why didn’t their friends testify? Bania, Mickey, Keith, and even J.Peterman never said anything in their defense (deleted scenes included). How about their parents or even Uncle Leo? Also, why didn’t we see Jackie Chiles cross examine anyone? He could have established, for example, that George may have gotten into the fight with The Bubble Boy but it was Susan who popped the bubble. Or that the Soup Nazi was incredibly rude to Elaine justifying her actions later. I can defend almost everything in this episode (except George storming over the kids and screaming about the fire, that one is kind of hard to excuse) and demonstrate at least within reasonable doubt that most of the time the four are victims of circumstance and not evil people who mock society.
It is clear that Larry David wanted the four to end up in jail, so much so he made it so they didn’t even get a fair shot. Worse than that, the characters were written flat out wrong to make the story work. Larry David said if he were to do this episode over the only thing he would change would be to make the gang cowardly rather than mocking during the mugging. Again, I agree! When have we ever seen Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer act so coldly? Even George is out of character in that scene. To be blunt, this was a badly written episode. I hated the tag in the end, why would Jerry, George, and Kramer be in maximum security? They didn’t kill someone!  Apparently they added that because they realized the ending with the line from the pilot was too bittersweet, they needed something else. Yeah, nothing like hitting us when we’re down! Thanks guys! It was just the icing on the cake of what was a really really disappointing way to end one of the best series ever.
Grade=C-, average to be kind which is a tragedy for a series finale. Talk about going out with a whimper



Before we conclude I wanted to briefly mention the Seinfeld reunion which took place a few years ago on Curb Your Enthusiasm. I was excited to hear they were doing a mock reunion, but had to wait for the dvd’s to watch it. When I did, I was impressed. They did a good job recreating the sets and bringing the characters back to life. They also took the chance to show different angles which we never saw on Seinfeld, like what a coffee shop scene looked like from reverse. While it didn’t make me wish the show was still on, the episode felt like a late season episode of Seinfeld which isn’t a good thing, it was nice to have the gang back one last time and did make up for the finale a bit. In fact the mock reunion was a great example of what I would have like the finale to be, not the overblown mess we ended up with.

 

Well, that’s it. 9 seasons, 180 episodes. I have had lots of fun watching these episodes again, getting to see the stuff that you can’t due to syndication. I feel like I got to experience the show all over and even learned a few new things on the way. If you had the same experience than I have accomplished what I set out to do. This show is very special to me, when it first came on I was in high school. When it ended I had been married for over a year! This show was a big part of my life and every season brings back all sorts of great memories.
 

Not sure if I will do one of these again, so I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. If you didn’t, well, that’s a shame.  :)

August 5, 2012

Sitcom Face Off-Golden Girls vs Designing Women




Ok, I have had this idea for a sitcom face off for a long time but put it off because I have strong feelings for one of the shows. However, this face off is so perfect that I can't resist. Let's see if I can be impartial and fair, as we present




 The Golden Girls was a break through hit for NBC. This show made sitcoms on Saturday nights work, and even won an Emmy for Outstanding Sitcom in 1985. Designing Women came along about a year later on CBS. I don’t think it was ever quite the hit that Golden Girls was, but it a strong show in its own right. Both of these shows were essentially the same thing, four strong women sharing their lives and being bff’s. The major difference was their ages, which we’ll get into. Yeah these shows were kind of girlie, but while I may not admit it to many people the truth is I watched them both. Why? Let’s talk about that.
              


August 4, 2012

Analytical Episode Guide-Seinfeld (Season 9, Part 3)


 
An Analytical Episode Guide to:
 

Season 9, Part 3

Episode 13, Season 9
The Cartoon

Plot Summary-Elaine draws a cartoon for The New Yorker. George dates a woman with a more than passing resemblance to Jerry. Kramer takes a vow of silence. Jerry is incorporated into a friends comedy act.
Best Quote-“Alright starting now!”…..Kramer
Nitpick of the episode-What is up with Kramer and his big mouth in this episode? Sure he has been known to blurt things out before but here he doesn’t seem to have any idea that he might be crossing the line and repeating things that Jerry told him is too much
Seinfeldism of the episode-Newman congratulates Sally on creating a “show that’s actually…about something”
Deleted Scenes- Elaine trying to get credit for the cartoon, Kramer having trouble with not speaking
Episode Fun Fact-The Jerry story in this episode is based on actual events when Kathy Griffin incorporated her previous experience on the show into her act
Final Thoughts-This episode has two major problems. One is that they decided to keep Kramer quiet for half the episode. That didn’t work for me, and this is one time his character is boring. To be fair, a lot of the funny stuff ended up on the cutting room floor. If those scenes had been included the episode may have worked better. The other problem is George’s story, which is just unsettling. The notion of him dating a woman who looks like Jerry is just creepy, and not the least bit funny. Plus we get not just one, but two scenes of George raging and running out of the room. Great. Elaine’s story is pretty good, but not great. Why does she care so much about that dumb cartoon? The highlight of the episode is the story about Sally Weaver using Jerry in his standup. This is funny, at first. It actually gets old kind of fast and by the end I am just ready for this one to end. Truth is in the real world Jerry could have sued Sally and won big for defamation of character, you just can’t do what she does in this episode and that kind of spoils it.
Grade=C+, a silent Kramer? Fail!

Episode 14, Season 9
The Strongbox

Plot Summary-Kramer acquires a strongbox to keep his valuables. George’s girlfriend refuses to break up with him. Jerry offends a neighbor while Elaine dates a poor man.
Best Quote-“Both parties don’t have to consent to a breakup. It’s not like your launching missles form a submarine and you both have to turn your keys”…Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-I don’t understand why George’s girlfriend would want to stay with him when he so clearly isn’t interested in being with her. The arguments she makes are good if they had been dating for years, not a few weeks. By the way, what is up with Kramer in this episode? Two stupid episodes in a row, a shame after all the raving I have done about him for this season.
Seinfeldism of the episode-Jerry’s cufflinks gives him an in to strike up a conversation with Jerry Lewis
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-They couldn’t even get a little detail like an apartment number right, since the neighbor has the same apartment as Newman
Final Thoughts-Oh dear lord, not this episode! This is one of the sloppiest, dumbest, most inane episodes ever! Ok, let’s take this one story at a time. Elaine’s is really boring. It’s one of those things you forget two minutes after you watch the episode. The bit with the buzzer is cute. George’s story, believe it or not, is the only good one. Not only is this a rage-free George, but the story is almost clever. What would you do if the girl you wanted to break up with refused? Jerry’s story is lousy, but because it makes no sense. Are we really supposed to believe he didn’t recognize the neighbor who lives almost across the hall from him! And was the bird invisible or something before? Kramer’s story is soooo bad. First he hides the lockbox key in the dumbest places, did he take his stupid pills before this episode? Jerry’s jacket pocket??? Jamming it in the buzzer? WTF??? Then it gets worst! Kramer inadvertently kills the bird that lived across the hall after he ate the key which Jerry needs to open the lockbox. Problem is they need to get into the lockbox. What do they do? THEY DESECRATE A PET CEMETARY!!!  And the best part is when it turns out the lockbox was never locked in the first place! Aaargh!! This is beyond dumb; I can’t even find the words! I am going to stop talking about this now before this post lasts a whole page. This episode sucks, enough said.
Grade=D+, George’s story is keeping it from being an F

Episode 15, Season 9
The Wizard

Plot Summary-Jerry buys his father an electronic organizer. Elaine isn’t sure if her boyfriend is black or not. Kramer retires to Florida and runs for condo president. George likes to Susan’s parents about purchasing a house in the Hamptons.
Best Quote-“It does other things!”….an exasperated Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-Kramer sells the movie rights to his coffee table book. Ok……… By the way its nice to see Elaine has learned how to pick up someone else’s mail. If you recall my rant in “The Visa”, I noted Elaine not only held Jerry’s mail but never even looked through it. Here we see her looking through it in his apartment. A small thing but I’ll take it.
Seinfeldism of the episode-Jerry’s father thinks the wizard is just a tip calculator
Deleted Scenes-A scene with Bob Saccamano Sr.
Episode Fun Fact-Of course wizard electronic organizers are a real thing
Final Thoughts-Remember the early days when Jerry’s parents were played like normal, albeit quirky, people? Well it seems like the writers sure forgot. Exactly when did Helen and Morty become cartoon parodies of themselves? Maybe I’m being too hard, but this is one episode I don’t like them in. Ironic since it’s the last one they’re in. But the jokes about the old people in Florida are just plain tired. I liked George’s story, while George did not kill Susan directly he sure played a role. I don’t know, I enjoy watching her parents get a little payback by making him suffer. It’s also an amazing example of how far George will go to keep a lie going. As for Kramer’s story, it isn’t bad but it’s not my favorite story of the year. Just because you move him to Florida doesn’t mean it isn’t the same old Kramer, which is what this story is. It is an improvement over the last two episodes. It is nice to see Seinfeld do a race related story, and they do a good job of dealing with the issue sensitively (at least for this show). That being said, do we really care about whether or not Elaine’s boyfriend is black or not? And the little teases were cute at first but get boring.  
Grade=B-, could be worst

Episode 16, Season 9
The Burning
 
Plot Summary-Elaine discovers that Puddy is religious. Jerry’s girlfriend refers to a mysterious tractor story. George finds himself doing the work for his boss. Kramer and Mickey perform disease symptoms for med students.
Best Quote-“Well, I’ve got gonorrhea”…..Kramer in one of the season’s genuinely funny moments
Nitpick of the episode-It is a little hard to believe at this point that Elaine had no idea Puddy was religious, and if he is religious why didn’t he care more that he traumatized the priest in “The Face Painter”
Seinfeldism of the episode-Sophie gives Jerry the “it’s me” on the phone, Kramer is typecast, George tries to learn showmanship  
Deleted Scenes-The weird guy acting as if he his surgeon had left a sponge in him, George making a quick exit after hitting a fast high note
Episode Fun Fact-Dedicated to the memory of Lloyd Bridges
Final Thoughts-I love this episode! Not only are there really good jokes in here, but we get a script which does not have George raging like a loon! You have no idea what a relief this episode is, to have the George I liked back. Too bad his story isn’t that spectacular, but you can’t have everything I guess. The showmanship thing just doesn’t go very far though it is clever. Kramer really makes his story work, and it’s a clever parody on the typecasting I am sure Michel Richard feared would actually befall him. Elaine’s story is really good as she discovers Puddy is religious. One of my favorite lines comes when Elaine asks him what the fact she is not religious doesn’t bother him. He responds “you’re the one going to hell”. Then we find out that they would both be going anyway in a clever moment. Jerry’s story is good to, as he tries to figure out what his girlfriend’s secret is. Four good stories with actual funny jokes makes for one decent episode.
 Grade=A, solid

Episode 17, Season 9
The Bookstore
 
Plot Summary-Jerry spots Uncle Leo shoplifting at a bookstore. George can’t get rid of a book he took into the bathroom with him. Elaine has a fake relationship with a co-worker. Kramer and Newman start a rickshaw business.
Best Quote-“We made out at the table like our plane was going down”…Elaine
Nitpick of the episode-Yeah, if I knew where that book had been I wouldn’t want to lay hands on it either
Seinfeldism of the episode-George’s book has been flagged
Deleted Scenes-Elaine hearing about her new office rep
Episode Fun Fact-First episode since season 4 to have music rather than a final scene over the closing credits
Final Thoughts-The teaser is very unique, as we see Kramer doing all sorts of things in, and to, Jerry’s apartment (including riding that famous bike that always hung in the background). This bit felt like the writers knew it was the last few episodes and decided to have some fun. Funny but also a tad contrived. As for the episode, it seems like every episode has to have a weak story. This time its Elaine’s turn. The whole thing about her having a fake boyfriend just feels flat. We barely even meet the guy and the story feels like it’s over before it’s begun. Uncle Leo gets one last appearance and its good, including a clever Cape Fear parody. Unfortunately it’s almost more Leo’s story than Jerry’s which kind of sucks. The rickshaw story is silly, but somehow it works. That final scene with Newman rolling down the steep hill is a very clever moment obviously filmed in downtown LA. Although having him run into Elaine’s fake boyfriend is a tad forced. I don’t think anyone would defend George in this one, but its funny watching him determined to get rid of that book somehow.
Grade=B, ok

Episode 18, Season 9
The Frogger
 
Plot Summary-George’s purchases a Frogger machine so his high school will live forever. Elaine eats an antique piece of cake owned by Peterman. Kramer makes use of police caution tape. Jerry dates a sentence finsher.
Best Quote-“Game Over”…..Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-I think George should have looked at the big picture. Why not just purchases the machine and bring it home, and he can play it all he wants? Why fixate on a silly high score? Isn’t the machine the source of the good time he had those years ago? Also what are the chances that score is still there anyway, even if no one had beaten the score are we supposed to believe the pizza place never lost power once in all that time? And I’m not even going to mention that the arcade version of the game doesn’t allow people to input their initials, it just displays high scores.
Seinfeldism of the episode-Jerry complains his girlfriend is a sentence finisher, saying it’s like dating Mad Libs. Very glad to see Entenmanns’s get a mention in a Seinfeld episode, what took so long?
Deleted Scenes- There was a whole story about Kramer and a girl he liked which ended up on the cutting room floor
Episode Fun Fact-Jason Alexander did his own stunt in the final scene of this episode
Final Thoughts-Yeah, I kind of like this episode. The whole thing with The Frogger is silly but somehow it works. I used to love to play that game so I got a kick out of that final scene. Elaine’s story is funny to, and for once one of her stories has an actual ending as Peterman points out how much of a mistake it will be that she ate such an old cake. Kramer’s story is kind of weak, but as I noted the deleted scenes include a big chunk of story he was supposed to have. So, I can forgive it if it seems like he gets a little shortchanged here. The whole thing about the serial killer is lame, and probably the one weak part of the episode. Jerry’s story is bland to, but that sequence where he is breaking up with Lisi is really clever so I will let it go. This episode is silly, but the silliness doesn’t seem to be so crazy that it spoils the show.
Grade=B+, in many ways I consider this the final good episode of Seinfeld. I will discuss why next week as I look at the final three episodes including the overhyped, and very disappointing, finale.