June 30, 2012

Analytical Episode Guide-Seinfeld (Season 8, Part 2)

An Analytical Episode Guide to:

Season 8, Part 2

Episode 6, Season 8
The Fatigues
Plot Summary-Jerry dates a protégé whose mentor is dating Bania. George goes to great lengths to avoid reading a thick book. Elaine promotes a co-worker because she is scared of him. Kramer enlists Franks help to cook for a Jewish singles event.
Best Quote-“I guess I got confused!”….Kramer on his botched cooking
Nitpick of the episode-Elaine, just fire the guy already!
Seinfeldism of the episode-George needs to do a lecture on risk management, Bania works on his ovaltine bit with Jerry
Deleted Scenes-George talking to his protégé about risk management
Episode Fun Fact-Jerry Stiller got an Emmy nomination from his performance in this episode
Final Thoughts-Just going to come out and say it. I really hate this episode. The employee with the military bent is so scary that he is totally unlikable. Not only that but the story is dumb, why is Elaine so scared of this guy? Even if he is scary, there’s such a thing as firing people over the phone. The rest of the episode is ok, we get Jerry’s story about dating the protégé and George trying to find a way to get out of reading a thick book. Love the look on his face when his audio tape sounds just like him, clever. It’s always fun to see Bania again. Kramer’s story is only ok. It starts out good as we him failing at cooking but it spirals down as we find out why Frank never cooks and we get that lame war parody. Sure it was well done, but really, is the fact that Frank poisoned and seriously hurt a bunch of kids with his awful cooking really supposed to be funny? It isn’t to me. The whole thing is just painful, and the ending of the episode couldn’t be more predictable.
Grade=D+, swing and a miss

Episode 7, Season 8
The Checks
Plot Summary- Jerry gets carpal tunnel after signings dozens of royalty checks. Kramer gets involved with Japanese tourists. Elaine’s boyfriend is obsessed with the song “Desperado”. George tries to sell the Jerry pilot to Japanese television.
Best Quote-“It failed here because here every time you turn on the TV all you see is four morons sitting around an apartment whining about their dates”….George
Nitpick of the episode-I don’t think Jerry needed to give himself carpal tunnel by signing checks so small they are almost valueless, just not worth the aggravation. Why does George want to get brainwashed by a cult exactly?
Seinfeldism of the episode-Designer Karl Farbman comes up again after being referenced in “The Hamptons”
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-The last line before the credits had two versions, one if the Yankees won and another if they lost.
Final Thoughts-This episode could get silly, but it manages to do a pretty good job of not letting that happen. The one weak story is the thing about the cult, which despite potential is really pointless and goes nowhere. Elaine gets a good story, as she tries to compete with the strange compulsion that “Desperado” has with her new boyfriend. The way Kramer interferes with the Japanese tourists is classic Kramer. Jerry’s story seems kind of silly, the whole thing with the royalty checks is kind of pointless and the bit with the umbrella doesn’t really lead to anything either. George is really funny in this episode, he keeps running into a dead end with the Jerry pilot but that doesn’t keep him from getting excited at the prospect of selling it even though his attempts fail miserably. And the bit with the tourists sleeping in drawers? Funny!
Grade=C, to many stories go nowhere in this one

Episode 8, Season 8
The Chicken Roaster
Plot Summary-When the red light from a neon chicken invades Kramer’s apartment, Jerry is forced to switch with him so Kramer will not force the restaurant to shut down and cause a friend to lose his job. Elaine gets busted for reckless spending while George tries to get a second date from a woman who did not like him.
Best Quote-“I’m like a commercial jingle. First it’s a little irritating then you hear it a few times your humming it in the shower. By the third date it’s BY MENNEN”…George
Nitpick of the episode-The way the girl seems to so clearly hate George after their first date makes the later scene where she confesses she has changed her mind about him a little hard to believe. Also, it takes a lot disbelief to buy that the neon sign is so large and so bright that it fills Kramer’s room with light like that. Think if that were real Kramer wouldn’t have to fight it; the city wouldn’t allow it in the first place. And why does it only affect Kramer and not anyone else in the building? Obviously showing the sign was too expensive or something since Kramer clearly says it’s in the shape of a chicken but there is no evidence of that. Good thing the episode is strong enough to make that a minor issue.
Seinfeldism of the episode-George does a leave behind to ensure a second date
Deleted Scenes-George wearing his new hat, Elaine trying to find Peterman in Burma
Episode Fun Fact-Initially the restaurant did not want to give their name to the episode, but Kenny Rogers himself gave the final approval knowing it would be good advertising
Final Thoughts-This episode is a favorite of mine. I never got the chance to eat at at Kenny Rogers Roasts but man this episode is sure a good ad for it! Of course the big scene in this episode is the one where Jerry storms into his apartment ala Kramer, and I must say he does a pretty decent job. Sure the way Jerry acts is more of a caricature of Kramer than the real character, but to see Jerry do those mannerisms while Kramer is cool and laid back is really funny to watch. That’s just a very well done scene. The whole story of Jerry getting his friend fired is well done, another case where we don’t blame Jerry because it was Seth who chose not to go to the meeting. George’s story is really good to, and the scene where Elaine drags him over to his girlfriend’s apartment is an interesting one. Even though Elaine technically is being mean here, for some reason that scene always worked for me. Something about Elaine cutting to the chase with George and his craziness is refreshing; usually the characters go along for the ride.  Too bad Elaine’s story ends on kind of a weak note, the Apocalypse Now parody has been done to death.
Grade=A-, a favorite

Episode 9, Season 8
The Abstinence
Plot Summary-George’s girlfriend contracts mono and cannot have sex. This results in George getting smarter. Elaine abstains from sex to support her boyfriend, but she gets dumber. Jerry gets bumped from a high school appearance and Kramer turns his apartment into a smokers lounge, with dramatic results for his appearance.
Best Quote-“You’ve experienced a lifetime of smoking in 24 hours, what did you expect?”….Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-I understand the part about how since George is no longer occupied with sex he can think because his mind is focused on other things. That kind of makes sense. I don’t get the other part with Elaine. Why does abstaining make her dumb? Jerry tries to explain it with a garbage strike analogy but it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Seinfeldism of the episode-Isn’t bunk bad?
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-The scene with Kramer and the effects of smoking led to a few bloopers
Final Thoughts-Another solid episode, even if it is a bit flawed in its premise. Even though it doesn’t make sense, we believe George is getting smarter and Elaine is getting dumber.  The performances really sell it here. Very well done. Jerry’s story about being bumped is cute, and does lead to a really funny David Letterman cameo at the end. The real story here is Kramer and his decision to support smokers’ rights, until he sees what excessive smoke can do. The scene with Jerry in the kitchen is classic and Jackie Chiles gets a great appearance at the end. The final scene is Kramer on a billboard as the new Marlboro Man. Great moment in a strong episode.
 Grade=B+, premise is a little flawed but the writing works

Episode 10, Season 8
The Andrea Doria
Plot Summary-George battles a shipwreck survivor for a new apartment. Elaine dates a man who is bad at breaking up with women. Jerry assists Newman on his quest to be transferred while Kramer develops a cough but sees a vet rather than a traditional doctor.
Best Quote-“You know if the tenant board is so impressed with suffering maybe you should tell him the astonishing tales of Costanza. I mean you’re body of work in this field is unparalleled”….Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-Why Kramer would refuse to see a real doctor makes no sense to me. He does mention that the last doctor he saw botched his vasectomy and made him more potent, how does that happen?
Seinfeldism of the episode-Elaine’s boyfriend is a “bad breaker-uppper”, Jerry and Newman form an alliance
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-This episode is set at Christmas, but the holiday has nothing to do with the stories
Final Thoughts-One of my favorite scenes of the season, if not the series, is the one where George is listing off the humiliating things that have happened to him over the course of the series. They make such a compelling case that George has gone through more misery than a shipwreck survivor, that it actually makes sense! Rather than seem to be offensive, since the Andrea Doria was a real incident, we buy the premise because after 7 years we have seen that George really does suffer. The rest of the episode is pretty solid too. It’s kind of fun to watch Jerry and Newman work together for once, and Elaine deals with a boyfriend who likes to insult people. Watching as she develops a complex over having a big head is well done. As for Kramer, once again leave it Michael Richards to take a silly story and make it funny. Kramer turning into a dog sounds like an idea that came up after a writer had one too many drinks, but somehow it works here.
 Grade=B, I try to like Kramer’s story but it’s not easy

Episode 11, Season 8
The Little Jerry
Plot Summary-Jerry bounces a check. The storekeeper refuses to take it down unless Kramer sells his rooster to him for a cock fight. George dates a prisoner and Elaine dates a man who shaves his head, but is upset when he discovers he is actually going bald.
Best Quote-“Occasionally I forget to let the machine pick up”…George (I like this line because I have done that myself)
Nitpick of the episode-I suppose this is a dumb question, but if Kurt shaves his head all the time is it really a big difference if he is actually bald?
Seinfeldism of the episode-dating a felon means no pop in and conjugal visit sex
Deleted Scenes-A deleted scene where Jerry and Elaine discuss the very subject I nitpicked about above
Episode Fun Fact-This episode had two roosters, one replaced the other
Final Thoughts-I am torn about this episode. It’s really not bad, but the whole cock fighting thing is kind of hard to take. Then that last scene, where Kramer dives in and is pecked by a rooster off-screen is just…..not funny. It’s one of those moments where I have no idea what the writers were going for, are we supposed to find it funny or horrifying? And roosters are one animal I don’t find very cute so the episode doesn’t win any points there (though the shot of Kramer walking Little Jerry is kind of funny). George mentioned in another episode that conjugal visit sex sounds like a cool idea, so here gets to experience it. He also helps Elaine’s boyfriend when he discovers he is balding. Jerry really has no story since the whole check thing was really meant to tie into the cock fighting story, and I never did buy the idea that Jerry would ever bounce a check. It’s clearly established that he has money to spare, what happened did he accidentally use check from an account he no longer had or something? And clown checks? Nope, not buying that one.
Grade=B-the rooster story tries too hard and ultimately fails

June 24, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Sitcom Teachers

The last couple months I talked a lot about how mothers and fathers are portrayed on sitcoms. But what about the professionals who work every day? Some characters on sitcoms are there to do a job, much like the example I will be discussing today. Ralph Kramden was a bus driver, Rob Petrie was a writer, Cliff Huxtable was an OBGYN, Jason Seaver was a Psychiatrist, Roseanne worked in factories and restaurants, and even Jerry Seinfeld was a stand-up comedian. Some professions transcend the sitcoms however, and become as important a part of the show as the parents. More so, in some cases. Today we look at sitcom teachers.
Teachers in sitcoms go all the way back to Our Miss Brooks which brought teachers to life as a radio program before it became a television show. TV is full of teachers who try to make a difference. I always love how much more fun the classrooms are, I don’t remember my school ever being that interesting.

Teachers have a long history on sitcoms as guest characters. In fact chances are if a show has kids in it then a teacher appeared on an episode or was even a recurring character in the series. One example is Punky Brewster, who had the teacher named Mike for one season. T.K.Carter played a real nice teacher who actually cared about his students and their problems. I always love how teachers in these shows get involved with the characters lives, when does that happen in real life? Sabrina had Mr.Kraft and Mrs. Quick. The Simpsons had Edna Crabapple. Doug’s sister is a PE teacher on The King of Queens. Several professors came and went on A Different World, some more memorable than others. Then you have The Wonder Years which had lots of teachers. Miss.White who Kevin had a crush on, Mr.Collins who was featured in one of the series best episodes, and Coach Cutlip who I know would not have a job in today’s world.

Then there are shows where a teacher is a main member of the cast. Those are the teachers we are focusing on today. Here is my top 5, and the only rule of this list is the characters have to be a title characters not just random supporting characters.

#5.Miss Bliss (Saved By The Bell aka Good Morning, Miss Bliss)
Before it was Saved by the Bell, it was Good Morning, Miss Bliss. I know it seems kind of odd to include her, the original show only lasted a year before it was retooled as Saved by the Bell. However, Hayley Mills did a good job making a memorable character. So much that they repackaged those episodes into the Saved by the Bell syndication package. What was great about Miss Bliss? She was very honest, and would go to any length to make a point. It was nice to see a teacher treat her students like intelligent people, not dumb kids.  I loved Saved By The Bell, but you can’t help but wonder what things would have been like it Miss Bliss had been given a longer run. The one constant in Saved By The Bell was Mr.Belding, the goofy principal from the early years right thru the agony of The New Class.

June 23, 2012

Analytical Episode Guide-Seinfeld (Season 8, Part 1)

An Analytical Episode Guide to :

Season 8, Part 1

As I said last week the big news as this season started was that Larry David would not be returning. This meant that Jerry Seinfeld was going to be in charge of the day to day production. So the question, would the show be the same? I hate to say it, but he answer is no. At least, not exactly the same. The first change was the elimination of the opening monologues since Jerry just didn’t have time to work on them anymore. Another change would be a direction toward more broad, slapstick kind of humor. I said that there were three phases to this series. Seasons 1-3 were the early years and they felt like it when you see the episodes, seasons 4-7 were the golden years when the show was at its best, and the last two seasons were the subpar years which had the show slowly deteriorate. So all in all, was this season really bad? That is the question we will be answering as we begin out look at the penultimate season.

Episode 1, Season 8
The Foundation
Plot Summary-Following Susan’s death, the Ross’s establish a foundation and make George the head of it. After Peterman has a breakdown, Elaine takes over the catalog. Jerry tries to figure out why no one buys his story about the end of his engagement, while Kramer takes up karate.
Best Quote-“KHHAANNN”….George mimicking the famous line
Nitpick of the episode-Isn’t there a board of directors at the J Peterman catalog to keep Elaine from running the company?
Seinfeldism of the episode-Elaine puts an odd hat called the Urban Sombrero on the cover of the catalog
Deleted Scenes-Elaine giving orders at the catalog
Episode Fun Fact-As a Star Trek fan, Ioved the references to Star Trek II and III littered through the episode.
Final Thoughts-Well, what can I say about this one? I guess I can’t blame them for following up on the least season’s final episode. George’s story when you come right down to it is showing him suffering from what happened to Susan. Honestly I would have preferred that whole thing just go away, reminding us of it doesn’t work. Maybe that’s why the foundation is only seen one or two more times. This episode is an example of the more silly stories that would pop up, as we see Kramer fighting children. I mean in what imaginary world would this be allowed? They even recreate the scene of Kramer being attacked in the alley from “The Sponge”, but this time the motivation for it is a little more sympathetic and since its kids we don’t mind as much. Elaine is back in evil bitch mode for the episode (though not as bad as “The Wait Out”).  I am on Jerry’s side when he knocks her ego down a peg, she deserved it. Jerry’s story is bland, I liked the quick end to his engagement and seeing “Mulva” again, but the story is still rather weak.
Grade=B-, only ok

Episode 2, Season 8
The Soul Mate
Plot Summary-Jerry and Kramer compete for the affections of the same girl. George suspects the foundation board thinks he killed Susan. Elaine meets a man who likes the same things she does.
Best Quote-“I once told a woman that I coined the phrase “pardon my french””…George
Nitpick of the episode-The tape story isn’t bad but the ending doesn’t add up. What they say happened to the tape doesn’t really correspond with the events that had been depicted when George played the tape, if it was just someone moving a chair and stumbling why did the voices sound so startled? If the tape stopped when the chair hit it, then why did George have to rewind it so long? And why didn’t the people in the room mention the incident to George when he came back in for briefcase? As I said, it doesn’t make sense.
Seinfeldism of the episode-Throat clearing as an indication of doubt
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-We learn that Newman has feelings for Elaine (never made sense to me either)
Final Thoughts-This episode is a great example of the broad comedy that would begin in this series, with the scene of Jerry and Newman chasing each other in the hallway. I hated the story of Jerry and Kramer competing for the same girl. Why did they have to make it a competition? They could have told the same story with Kramer, making it a competition between the two was pointless. It just turns into another Cyrano story. Thank goodness we have George’s story, which is pretty good. The only bad thing is the end. Elaine’s story is pretty bland, all it really does is introduce to Kevin will have an important role in the following episode. And that vasectomy stuff? Ouch.
Grade=C+, George’s story is the only thing strong in this episode and even that fails in the end

Episode 3, Season 8
The Bizarro Jerry
Plot Summary-Elaine realizes that her friend Kevin is the exact opposite of Jerry. George uses a picture of Jerry’s girlfriend to infiltrate a model paradise. Jerry dates a woman with male-like hands. Kramer starts working.
Best Quote-”I can’t spend the rest of my life coming into the stinking apartment every ten minutes to pour over the excruciating minutiae of every single daily event”….Elaine basically summing of the premise of the shown
Nitpick of the episode-One question, what is Bizarro Elaine like?
Seinfeldism of the episode-Jerry’s date has man hands
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-Kevin’s apartment is a mirror opposite of Jerry’s, right down to pasta rather than cereal and a Bizarro figure in the corner. My favorite is when the Bizarro Kramer brings food rather than taking it, brilliant! And of course Kevin is good buddies with their version of Newman.
Final Thoughts-Gotta be fair, and say this was a real funny episode. At this point the creators realized they could start making fun of themselves since they had been on so long. I hated that, I don’t want to see a parody of a coffee shop scene I want an actual scene! However this episode is an exception because it is really funny and well done. The Bizzaro Jerry is really the opposite, but the funny thing is watching Kevin and his friends make me really happy the show is about Jerry and co. I think the sitcom that would feature Kevin and his friends would be real boring! The scene where the two groups meet was surreal and very well done right down to the reversed color scheme on the clothes. Then you have Kramer going to work, and they get every laugh they can out of that idea. The scene where he is fired is really good. The indirect result of Kramer’s story is Jerry acting like the poor put upon housewife which is really funny. Jerry also gets the story of the woman with man hands, which is done pretty well. It’s obvious the hands we see in the close ups are a stand in, but the gag still works. George’s story is even good in this episode, as he gets into the model paradise only to blow it by accidentally destroying the picture. This is the first episode to show a regular gag where George calls Jerry, and Jerry pretends to not know is calling. George’s reaction is to yell at Jerry and slam the phone. Funny bit. Great episode! 
Grade= A, one of the seasons stand outs

Episode 4, Season 8
The Little Kicks
Plot Summary-Elaine horrifies her co-workers with her bizarre dancing. George enjoys being taken for a “bad boy”. Kramer’s friend bootlegs movies and gets Jerry involved.
Best Quote-“It was more like a full body dry heave set to music”….George describing Elaine’s dance
Nitpick of the episode-If I were Jerry I would have called the cops on Brodie, it certainly isn’t worth getting into trouble for. Though he does seem like a dangerous character, I certainly wouldn’t have anything to do with him.
Seinfeldism of the episode-Elaine’s odd dancing; George is the “bad boy”
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-The last scene between Elaine and Frank took quite a few takes to get right
Final Thoughts-I give this episode credit for going the extra mile to make us think Elaine has always danced that way. We get a flashback where Julia Louis-Dreyfuss has a third season dress and hairstyle. Nice touch. The episode itself is, not too bad. Kramer’s friend is a little to real, to the point of being scary. That kind of spoils the episode since it isn’t funny. It is funny to watch George act like the bad boy to impress a girl. Then try to get the appeal back after Elaine kills it for him. As for Elaine and her dancing, there’s a reason why that dance is tattooed on people’s memories. It’s funny and, as someone who once thought he could dance but really can’t, a bit relatable.

Episode 5, Season 8
The Package
Plot Summary-George attempts to impress a woman at a photo store by having Kramer take seductive pictures of him. Jerry refuses to accept a suspicious package, which Uncle Leo signs for. Elaine learns she is considered a difficult patient.
Best Quote-“Oh, extra teeth I love that look”…Jerry
Nitpick of the episode-The scene with Uncle Leo at the doctor’s office is the dumbest; you mean the doctor really believes his drawn in eyebrows are real?
Seinfeldism of the episode-Jerry thinks he is “bombable” so he refuses the strange package
Deleted Scenes-Newman confiscating the photos
Episode Fun Fact-In an odd inconsistency, the stereo which is supposedly being shipped around the post office is still visible in Jerry’s apartment during those scenes.
Final Thoughts-What a dated episode! George’s story involves film which no one uses, and the whole medical chart thing is obsolete since most doctors where I go use laptops now. I never liked Elaine’s story, just the idea of a doctor avoiding helping a patient due to something written on a chart isn’t funny to me. The whole story seems to against the concept of doctors. It starts out ok but by the end it's just to silly and unbelievable. In real life you could sue the doctors in this episode the way they act.  I never understood the bit with Uncle Leo, I get the feeling they wanted to have him get bombed but changed their mind for obvious reasons. The payoff with George’s story is funny, although it isn’t a big surprise. I think this is yet another episode where Newman steals the scenes he is in, too bad he wasn’t on the show more often.Jerry doesn’t seem to have anything interesting to do, and neither does Kramer really after he takes the photos of George and gets Jerry into trouble by trying to scam the post office.
Grade=C-, Elaine’s story gets dumb

June 19, 2012

A Look at Sitcom Series Finales:The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

So let's talk about series finales of sitcoms. In the old days, the final episodes of series were nothing to remarkable. That started to change in the 70's as shows began using the final episode of series as an opportunity to thank the fans for watching the show all the years it was on. By the 90's, these episodes became events which included two hours episodes usually starting with a clip show, and tons of media hype. The bigger the show, the more the hype. Over the years some sitcoms have done this well, and others not so much. Today I thought I would look at some of the more famous series finale's and discuss why there were so good, others not as good, or in some cases the one's which are just a flat out disappointment.

Series finales do have to follow a few rules. One, something needs to happen in the episode which significantly alters some aspect of the show as a sign that the show as we know it is over. That is harder to do for family shows which are why a lot have the family selling the house or something. Two, there needs to be a surprise. Something unexpected has to happen. Three, there has to be a tearful goodbye among the cast which includes a laugh somewhere along the way. Finally, the final scene has to show the main member of the cast looking wistfully at the setting of the show before the credits role. Now of course these rules are not set in stone and a series may do some but not all.  The perfect example of these rules has to be Mary Tyler Moore. This show may have been the first to popularize the idea of a series final episode actually being a series finale. In the episode, the entire cast is fired (there’s your change), except Ted (there’s your surprise). The final scene is the cast huddled in a big hug saying goodbye (tear moment), they realize they need tissues and go get some never losing the huddle (laugh). The final moment is Mary taking one last look at the newsroom before turning and leaving, happy to have had the experience of working there at all, and the camera fades on the empty set. The best part, the episode wasn’t a bloated overhyped affair it was just a half hour like any other. Quite simply, a perfect final episode and a gold standard for others to follow.

Let’s talk about some others. I have already talked about many of these, so rather than bore you with plot synopses I will just give you my feelings about them. As always, this is just opinion.

June 17, 2012

Five Things I Hated In “Star Wars”

In case you hadn't figured it out, I am more of a Star Trek fan then a Star Wars fan. This goes all the way back to when I was a little kid and when I played with my Star Wars figures I set the stories on the Enterprise and did more Star Trek related stories (I didn't say I was a smart kid). While Star Wars is classic story of good vs. evil; Star Trek is all about exploring the human condition, which makes the stories more relatable and timeless. When you think about it, how many rip off's of Star Wars have there been over the years? Because it's easy to rip off. Star Trek is easy to parody, but actually duplicating it is a bit harder. However comparing Star Trek to Star Wars is like comparing apples to oranges, two very different franchises and both have their strong points, and their flaws.

June 16, 2012

Analytical Episode Guide-Seinfeld (Season 7, Part 4)

An Analytical Episode Guide to :

Season  7, Part 4

Episode 19, Season 7
The Wig Master
Plot Summary-Susan has a friend staying with her and George, much to his chagrin. George discovers the parking lot where he parks his cars is being used by hookers. Jerry is offended when someone asks Elaine out in front of him. Kramer locks himself out of his apartment.
Best Quote-“We have to deal with the doubt Susan, the doubt must be dealt with”…George
Nitpick of the episode-I hate the jiffy park guy in this episode! Every time that scene comes on where he refuses to give George his car, I want to yell at the TV. What George should do is go get a policeman; they have no right to keep his car. And where could it be that they can’t get it out? As George himself says, it’s a parking lot!
Seinfeldism of the episode-Jerry buys a jacket with a crest and then tries to return it for spite
Deleted Scenes-Jerry showing his jacket off trying to get opinions which included a Bania cameo, George trying to explain to Susan why he couldn’t get the car
Episode Fun Fact-The scene at the end of Kramer walking with Technicolor dream coat on is a favorite of the crew
Final Thoughts- This is pretty solid episode. George is frustrated in this episode, first by the house guest and then after he finds a condom in his car. This is a pretty typical George episode. Kramer’s story is kind of weak, sure there are a few good jokes but it really doesn’t add up to much. It’s ok though because he gets that amusing scene at the end when he wears the Technicolor dream coat. Jerry’s story doesn’t really go anywhere but to be fair a lot of it was cut out. Elaine is really good in this episode; especially the end after she discovers her boyfriends has been leading her on. She grabs a pair of scissors with a great look on her face; you don’t want to cross her! The only bad thing in the episode is the tag where Kramer is arrested for being a pimp.
Grade=B+, Decent episode

Episode 20, Season 7
The Calzone
Plot Summary-Steinbrenner becomes addicted to George’s calzone. Jerry dates a very beautiful woman. Elaine isn’t sure if her new guy is dating her or not. Kramer decided to always wear his clothes straight out of the dryer.
Best Quote-“Saturday night with your parents? I mean, unless I’m your sister, this is a date!”…Elaine
Nitpick of the episode-I do think that George throwing around money the way he does in this episode is a bit out of character for him
Seinfeldism of the episode-Todd Gack has found a “dating loophole” by making a bet he knows he’s going to lose thereby not actually having to ask a woman out and risk rejection
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-George tries his bathroom idea again at the start of the episode
Final Thoughts-This is one of my favorite episodes, though I am not sure why since it is nothing special. There is some clever stuff here, including the bit about the tip cup and the one about the dating loophole. I love that, although I do think Elaine should have seen through it sooner. Jerry’s story about being able to get away with anything because he is dating a beautiful woman is effective. Kramer has one of his best stories, and who hasn’t wanted to always put on clothes straight from the dryer? Of course George’s story really steals the show, as Steinbrenner goes from being a punch line to a fully fledged character. The site of him running out of the office is really simple but really funny. I love the end of the episode, where Kramer gets rid of his pennies and gets revenge on Todd at the same moment.
Grade=A, solid episode

Episode 21 & 22, Season 7
The Bottle Deposit
Plot Summary-Kramer and Newman run a bottle deposit scheme. Jerry has his car stolen by an insane mechanic. Elaine buys clubs belonging to JFK for Peterman. George tries to figure out what his new assignment is.
Best Quote-“Where do I find these guys?”…an exasperated Jerry after talking to the crazy mechanic on the phone.
Nitpick of the episode-Is it me or does that deposit bottle scam seem like more trouble than it’s worth? Is Newman really that stupid he thought the 5 cents were a charge rather than a refund? Why in the world didn’t Elaine take the clubs inter her apartment with her? There was a deleted line saying her elevator was broken but that still seems nuts considering how valuable they were. And what pills are Wilhelm on (or not on) exactly that made the report he handed in so rambled that Steinbrenner had to have George committed because of it? Finally, does Jerry ever get his car back or what?
Seinfeldism of the episode-The Kennedy’s get yet another Seinfeld reference
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode
Episode Fun Fact-Wayne Knight credits this episode with saving his life. In the scene at the end when Kramer and Newman run from the farm house, Knight felt his heart beating real fast and it compelled him to see a doctor and eventually lose a lot of weight. The ending where the daughter calls Newman by the wrong name was a blooper they kept in.
Final Thoughts-I complained about “The Cadillac” for being an episode stretched so thin the stories get boring. This one is worst! Like I said about that other episode, the shows starts pretty well but the stretching to fit it into an hour really hurts it. Then the second half just gets bizarre. We have Jerry’s car stolen by a lunatic, George ends up committed, Kramer chasing Jerry’s car in Ohio while Newman gets inexplicably involved in a famers daughter story. What is going on here? Like the other episode scenes had to be added to lengthen it. That makes the episode drag, even though the whole thing with the “Downtown” song was kind of cute. The scene where Jerry and Elaine ID the “body” was a kind of cute too. But that’s about it.
Grade=C-, first part isn’t bad the second part just gets weird

Episode 23, Season 7
The Wait Out
Plot Summary-George inadvertently breaks up a married couple, and Jerry and Elaine conspire to sweep in and date the other. Kramer gets trapped in a pair of tight jeans.
Best Quote-“It’s gotta have something to do with Kramer”….Jerry after hearing a screech out the door
Nitpick of the episode-Will be talking about this more in a second, but wouldn’t it make more sense for Jerry and Elaine to really care about the couple rather than pretending to just so they can worm their way in? If they don’t really care about them then why date them? For once George does the right thing by wanting to apologize for his comment, but that kind of illustrates  the flaw of the epiosode.
Seinfeldism of the episode-Elaine suggests being “there for them”
Deleted Scenes-None for this episode.
Episode Fun Fact-Michael Richards hurt his back in the scene where Jerry tries to help Kramer out of his jeans
Final Thoughts-One of the great things about Seinfeld was the fact that while the characters were kind of selfish and mean, they were also likable enough that we wanted to keep coming back. This episode is a big exception. What is up with Jerry and Elaine in this one? The idea of waiting out a marriage is a good idea, but the way it is played is so dark! Jerry and especially Elaine come off mean, even evil. There is one moment where they are bragging like villains, and in the next scene they almost get into a fight with George! True the brawl is off screen mostly but the whole thing is just unsettling. It’s a strange episode that makes George the calm, sympathetic person. At least Jerry seems back to normal by the end, where Elaine is just on evil bitch mode for the whole episode. On top of that we have Kramer’s story which is so silly, especially how it ends. They couldn’t resist that Frankenstein gag could they? Ok, the scene where Kramer is unable to sit in the chair is kind of funny.
Grade=D+, to dark

Episode 24, Season 7
The Invitations
Plot Summary-Jerry meets a woman just like him and falls for her, George tries to find a way out of the wedding, Elaine tries to find a date for the wedding, and Kramer tries to get the bank to admit they owe him money for not giving a proper greeting.
Best Quote-“Wait a minute I just realized what’s going on. Now I know what I’ve been looking for all these years. Myself. I’ve been waiting for me to come along, and now I’ve swept myself off my feet!”….Jerry  
Nitpick of the episode-Poor Susan. I heard an adage once that if you are exercising and feel pain or sick, then stop because there is something wrong. I think that rule applies to everything. Unfortunately Susan never heard it, because as soon as she started feeling sick, which she clearly did, while licking the envelopes she should have stopped, and wondered if something was wrong. I tend to agree with Elaine in this episode she should be in the wedding, never understood why Susan shoots George down about it. By the way speaking of that, why does Susan suddenly become shrill and mean in this episode?
Seinfeldism of the episode-The invitations will come back to haunt George
Deleted Scenes-The real George Steinbrenner was to appear in this episode but his scenes were all cut. In watching them I am kind of glad, the scenes were kind of silly.
Episode Fun Fact-The last episode to begin with a stand-up routine (except the finale)
Final Thoughts-I have to admit, when I first heard about what was going to happen in this episode I was appalled. But then I saw the episode and it wasn’t so bad. There are two simple reasons we don’t hate George. It was an accident for one; he didn’t intend the envelopes to be toxic. The other thing is that George doesn’t exactly get off scot free; he will pay for this the rest of the series. I never did understand the complaints, the final scene seems perfectly in character to me. In fact I would almost give George credit for being reserved rather than cheering or something. I think that is one of most in character moments of the show. As for the rest of the episode, Elaine disappears due to the cutting for time and Kramer’s story is just filler. It’s good filler, but still filler. I liked Jerry falling for a woman just like him, and any chance to see Janeane Garofolao is worth it. The episode ends with Jerry spouting the same refrain George had used all season, “We had a pact!”
 Grade=B+, Elaine gets short shrift but otherwise a solid way to end the season

Overall Season 7 was a solid season, and ended with Seinfeld at the height of its popularity. The big news at the end of the season was that Larry David would not be returning the next year. The big question was, would Seinfeld be as good without him? Join me next week as we dig into Season 8. But here is a little hint: No.

June 12, 2012

Top 5 Favorite Sitcom Fathers

In honor of Father's day, my top 5 favorite sitcom father's. Fathers have come a long way in sitcoms, kind of the opposite of the mothers. In the old days, Father always knew best. Whether it be Andy Griffith, Danny Thomas or Dick Van Dyke, fathers were the head of their households and the wives were there to cook and be pretty. As the 80's rolled around that changed more as mothers started to be more dominant and fathers fell to the background. In the 90's fathers became bumbling overgrown kids, like Tim Taylor or Ray Barone, or they were just lazy dim wits like Homer Simpson. I guess someone decided that the cliche of the father who can't fix things and likes to stare at the TV all day is funny. This hit bottom with "Still Standing" where Mark Addy played one of the laziest, most dim-witted, uninvolved fathers I have ever seen in a sitcom. When Al Bundy did this it was funny, but by the time Still Standing came along it was cliche.

Anyway, I am getting off topic. Here are the my favorite fathers, and they are my favorite because while they have a playful side they are also responsible, good parents who don't hide the fact they love thei kids because "it isn't cool".