SEINFELD (SERIES, THE) - DVD review

Kudos to Sony for giving this show the DVD treatment it deserves.

James Plath's picture
James
Plath

So Season 8 of "Seinfeld" earned nine Emmy nominations (including a win for Michael Richards), a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Series, three Writers Guild of America nominations (with a win for "The Fatigues"), four Screen Actors Guild nominations (incluing a win for Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Best Ensemble), a People's Choice Award for Favorite Television Comedy Series, yada yada yada . . . .

As a matter of fact, "The Yada Yada" episode that put the term into our popular lexicon is here. So is "The Nap," which finds George Costanza (Jason Alexander) hiring a carpenter to fix the space under his desk so he can hide from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and nap the day away. "The English Patient" episode is here, which finds Elaine (Louis-Dreyfus) becoming a pariah of sorts because she can't stand that movie (Elaine, I feel your pain). So are "The Muffin Tops," with Elaine's bright idea getting stolen and George getting traded to a chicken franchise. This is the season where Kramer (Richards) boycotts Kenny Rogers Roasters because the neon sign keeps him from sleeping, and it's the season where Elaine uses her new power at the Peterman catalog by introducing the Urban Sombrero. And this is the season that saw "Seinfeld" settle in behind "ER" again as the number two most-watched show in America. Not a bad year, for a season that everyone thought would be the show's last, since co-creator Larry David departed.

The show would go on for one more year, and finish tops again in the Nielsen's. Though a number of sitcoms have been as popular and beloved, it's hard to name one that has given us as many phrases and attitudes as this alleged show about nothing. So many people were talking about the episodes at their workplace water coolers that we even began to think of this as the first water cooler show. It was an intimate, clever, postmodernist kind of show that self-consciously gave us a glimpse into the business of comedy. As Jerry Seinfeld did his stand-up routine at the end of each episode, it not only put a period to the episode. It made you realize that we've been privileged to see the raw materials upon which those monologues are based. Raw created materials, that is. It's part of the genius of "Seinfeld."

All 22 episodes are included on four single-sided discs and housed in four slim clear keep-cases and a double cardboard slipcase.

1) "The Foundation"-George's almost-in-laws start a foundation in Susan's name and ask George to sit on the board; Peterman has a breakdown and Elaine takes over, introducing the Urban Sombrero to the catalog; and Jerry gets together again with that woman whose name he couldn't remember . . . the one that rhymed with a female body part.

2) "The Soul Mate"-Kramer gets the hots for Jerry's latest girlfriend; George becomes paranoid that the board may think he killed his late fiancé; and everyone gets a vasectomy.

3) "The Bizarro Jerry"-Elaine concludes that her boyfriend and his circle of friends are the exact opposite of them; George uses Jerry's girlfriend to crash a model bonanza; and Jerry dates a woman with "man hands."

4) "The Little Kicks"-Elaine gets her kicks at an office party; George tries to impress Elaine's secretary by acting "bad"; Kramer's friend hands jerry the camera during the making of a film and a "filmmaker" is born.

5) "The Package"-Only George would think to have Kramer take seductive photos of him to impress a woman he likes at the photo store; Jerry won't accept a suspicious package; and Elaine finds out that every doctor thinks she's a difficult patient.

6) "The Fatigues"-Jerry dates someone whose mentor is dating a comedian he can't stand, Kenny Bania; George tries to avoid reading a risk management book; and Elaine gets intimidated by a war vet in fatigues and promotes him.

7) "The Checks"-Jerry cramps up after signing hundred of royalty checks; Kramer tries to help Japanese tourists; George tries to sell a "Jerry" pilot to Japanese TV; and Elaine's boyfriend is obsessed with the song "Desperado."

8) "The Chicken Roaster"-Kramer goes ballistic over Kenny Rogers Roasters; Jerry switches apartments and finds himself becoming just like Kramer; Elaine gets busted for abusing the Peterman expense account.

9) "The Abstinence"-When George's girlfriend gets mono and can't have sex, George actually finds himself getting smarter; Elaine stops having sex, but finds the opposite to be true; Kramer turns his apartment into a smoking lounge and hires Jackie Chiles to represent him in a lawsuit against big tobacco.

10) "The Andrea Doria"-George competes with a shipwreck survivor for an apartment; Elaine dates a "bad breaker-upper"; Kramer gets a cough that makes him sound like a dog (so he sees a vet); and Jerry helps Newman deliver mail so he can win a transfer to Hawaii.

11) "The Little Jerry"-When Jerry bounces a check, the bodega owner posts it for all to see; Kramer gets a chicken that turns out to be a rooster, so he trains it to fight; George dates a prisoner; and Elaine's boyfriend shaves his head.

12) "The Comeback"-George works overtime to make up for missing a chance to "zing" a co-worker; Elaine falls for a video store guy who recommends the right stuff; Kramer asks Elaine to be executor of his living will; and Jerry buys an expensive racquet from a pro who turns out to be not very good.

13) "The Money"-When George learns his parents are rich, Kramer moves in with the Costanzas and convinces them to move to Florida; Elaine hires Morty to work at J. Peterman; and Jerry tries to buy back the Cadillac that his father sold.

14) "The Van Buren Boys"-No one likes Jerry's latest girlfriend; George picks a mediocre student to be the first Susan Ross Foundation Scholar; and Peterman gets Elaine to ghostwrite his bio and Elaine buys Kramer's stories to fill the void.

15) "The Susie"-When Elaine's co-worker keeps calling her Susie, Elaine pretends to be Susie; Kramer sets his watch an hour ahead; George suspects his girlfriend wants to break up with him and goes to great lengths to avoid her; and Kramer places bets for Jerry with a guy who thinks Jerry is a killer.

16) "The Pothole"-George loses his Phil Rizzuto keychain in a pothole; Elaine moves into a janitor's closet just to get Chinese food delivered; Jerry's girlfriend isn't upset that he knocked her toothbrush into the toilet; and Kramer adopts a mile of highway.

17) "The English Patient"-Kramer wants Jerry to bring him Cubans from Florida so he can start a cigar business; Elaine shocks everyone by saying she can't stand "The English Patient"; and Jerry competes with an octogenarian. Lloyd Bridges guests.

18) "The Nap"-Jerry hires a carpenter to build kitchen shelves who ends up driving him crazy; George hires the same guy to rig his desk so he can nap; Kramer starts swimming in the East River; and Elaine's boyfriend gets her a mattress.

19) "The Yada Yada"-George's girlfriend uses that phrase instead of completing sentences, and he tries to use it to his advantage; Dr. Tim Whatley angers Jerry when he converts to Judaism to be able to make jokes; Kramer and Mickey go on a double date; and Elaine messes up her friends' chance of adopting a baby. Debra Messing, Robert Wagner, and Jill St. John guest.

20) "The Millennium"-Kramer and Newman compete to host the ultimate New Year's party; Jerry gets in trouble with his girlfriend's stepmother over a speed dial placement; George gets fired by the Yankees so he can get a scouting job with the Mets; and Elaine recruits Kramer to sabotage a store where a clerk was rude to her.

21) "The Muffin Tops"-Elaine's idea for a muffin top store is stolen by Mr. Lippman; George pretends to be a tourist to get a woman; Jerry shaves his chest and becomes addicted to the feeling; and Kramer starts a reality bus tour.

22) "The Summer of George"-When George receives a bundle from the Yankees after he's let go, he decides to take the summer off; Jerry's girlfriend has a guy; Elaine gets into a feud with a co-worker who can't swing her arms; and Kramer goes from seat-filler at the Tonys to award winner and the guy who has to axe Raquel Welch (who guests).

Video: Remastered in High Definition, the 1.33:1 video really looks sharp, even stretched to fit a 16x9 widescreen television screen. The colors are vibrant and there isn't much in the way of bleed or pulsation. What more can I say? The episodes look better than ever.

Audio: The sound quality is almost as good, with English and French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and subtitles in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. No complaints here.

Extras:
You can just sense the respect for this show that everyone has. Name one other TV series that has gone all-out for EVERY SINGLE SEASON RELEASE. As with other years, this season features a ton of extras. There's an extended blooper reel, 14 deleted scenes, two Sein-Imation animated scenes, factoid tracks for ALL 22 episodes, Inside Look featurettes and commentaries with cast/crew on 14 of the episodes, and a new featurette: "Jerry Seinfeld, Submarine Captain," which chronicles the juggling act that Seinfeld had to do when Larry David left. Fans will enjoy all of the bonus features, which are very well done. In other TV DVDs the stars are the ones that are worth listening to, but "Seinfeld" is such a creative collaboration that even the writers are a mixture of information and irreverence. It's fun listening to them tell the real stories behind the episodes.

Bottom Line:
TV Guide picked "Seinfeld" as the greatest sitcom of all-time, and while that might be open to debate, consistency is the benchmark that separates the good from the great. Season 8 proves, once more, that "Seinfeld" was consistently funny and original. Kudos to Sony for giving this show the DVD treatment it deserves.

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
7
Extras
8
Film Value
8