TROUBLE CITY

DVD REVIEW: SEINFELD - SEASON 8

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STUDIO: Sony Pictures
MSRP: $49.95
RATED: Not rated
RUNNING TIME: 506 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
• Blooper Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• 2 Sein-Imations
• Factoid tracks on all 22 episodes
• Featurette: Jerry Seinfeld, Submarine Captain
• "Inside Look" Featurettes on 14 Episodes
• Commentaries on 14 Episodes with Cast and Crew
• Digitally Mastered Audio and Video
• Bonus Previews

The Pitch

The. Best. Sitcom. Ever. Period.

The Humans

Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander.

The Nutshell

Bizzaro Jerry; The Peterman Reality Tour; “Where are the muffin tops?”; “Sweet Fancy Moses!”; “Desperado”; “I calculated the odds of sleeping with a Portuguese waitress, mathematically I had to do it…”; conjugal visit sex; Little Jerry Seinfeld; “jerk store”; “Oh the humanity…”; “I hate The English Patient!”; The Summer of George; Yada Yada Yada…


"...and hey, what's the deal with this MEG thing anyway? It's a big shark who didn't go to law school...?"


The Lowdown

If you’ve ever seen Seinfeld, and I can’t possibly imagine you haven’t, then you certainly don’t need me to explain to you why it’s the greatest sitcom ever; and if you’ve never seen Seinfeld, then let me welcome back from either your 20-year stint in a Turkish prison or a coma. Everyone and their grandmother’s proctologist can quote their favorite episodes and favorite quotes, and there’s a friggin’ blue million of ‘em to be had in this show. And since Seinfeld is rerun everyday on any number of stations, it’s easy to stay connected with it, even though it left the air nearly a decade ago. It’s beyond obvious to say that the show’s genius, but it’s only when you baseline a whole line of episodes from one season in one sitting that you truly realize what a phenomenal product Jerry and company were cranking out every week for nine years. This show has more memorably hilarious episodes in any given season than 95% of shows have in their entire multi-year runs. Season 8 is no different, and considering most sitcoms never even make it to an eighth season, and if they do they’re usually scraping underneath the bottom of the barrel for laughs, it’s astonishing that Seinfeld was still making with the funny that late in the game.


Now serving Black people.


Personally, I’ve never seen another show that made me laugh outright, even to the point of crying, as many times as Seinfeld. It’s as funny now as it was a decade ago and very few sitcoms have produced the following, either cult or mainstream, that this show has. So what is is that makes this show stand out from dreck like Full House or Family Matters, or even legendary sitcoms like M*A*S*H*, The Jeffersons or Cheers? Well in the case of the former, it has no pretensions about trying to be disgustingly heartwarming and fuzzy, cute, or teaching any goddamned life lessons. Seinfeld is hilariously negative, spiteful, mean-spirited and filled with characters who embody all of those wonderfully dishonorable traits and more. And in the case of the latter shows, all very good sitcoms to be sure, Seinfeld simply stands out because of its unique premise: the lives of four misbegotten friends who are self-centered, petty, vindictive, and at many times, shameful. Glorious.


Louis-Dreyfus managed to hide her Parkinson's pretty well, but there were times when it would pop up at the most inopportune moments...


Of course the tagline for Seinfeld is that it’s a show about nothing, which in itself is a crock, because if there’s ever been a show where more shit occurs per episode, be it 30 or 60 minutes, I haven’t seen it. Most shows generally have the A-story and frequently a B-story, whereas Seinfeld was sporting B-stories, C-stories, D-, E- and hell, sometimes even F-stories. The density of the storytelling per episode is amazing, and considering that they did it over 22 episodes each season is downright staggering. And of course, the stories told were always zany, sidesplitting bits of lunacy that were discussed the next morning over the water cooler, and even years later people still talk about the Soup Nazi, the Contest, hipster doofus, “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” “spongeworthy,” and a bazillion other things that Seinfeld delivered to American pop culture.


Jerry managed to get past Newman telling his girlfriend's parents that he made out with her during Schindler's List, but it was when he spilled the beans about Jerry getting anal from her during The Passion of The Christ where he finally lost it...


In Season 8 alone, there were some of the best episodes of the show’s run, which was somewhat of a validation for Seinfeld, because Season 8 was also the first after Larry David left the show. One of the weirder episodes was “Bizarro Jerry,” where Elaine finds Bizarro versions of Jerry, Kramer and George; in other words, their exact opposites. There’s also “The Little Kicks,” the uproarious episode where Elaine introduced a dance that was best left undiscovered, Jerry discovered he was a bootlegging auteur, and George became the bad boy. In “The Checks,” Elaine dates Brett, who’s obsessed with the song “Desperado,” George tries to join a cult but gets no love, and Kramer plays host to some Japanese businessmen. “The Chicken Roaster” was one of the more infamous episodes where a new chicken roaster with a bright red neon sign that turns Kramer’s apartment into a red-tinged hell and forces him to switch apartments with Jerry, and personalities as well.


In reality, Kramer actually had no point to make about any relevant subject and spouted crap and controversy to a pandering demographic on his talk show...which made him a perfect candidate for The View...


“The Abstinence” showed us that when George goes long periods without sex, he becomes Einstein, but Elaine becomes an idiot. George also shows where math comes in handy when it comes to Portuguese waitresses. “The Little Jerry” finally gives George his shot at conjugal visit sex when he started dating a convict, while Kramer gets involved with a rooster and, inadvertently, cockfighting, while Elaine dates a guy who shaves his head, and then discovers he’s actually going bald, and Jerry has to deal with a bounced clown check at a local store. George introduces the term “jerk store” to the lexicon in “The Comeback,” while Jerry deals with a tennis pro who swindled him into buying an expensive racket, and Kramer decides that he wants to name Elaine to pull the plug on him should he ever be put into a coma, while Elaine becomes infatuated with her local video store’s ace movie recommender, Vincent. We find out that Elaine’s yada yada-ed sex before in “The Yada Yada”, and in “The Muffin Tops,” she finds out what a menace muffin stumps are and Jerry discovers that shaving his chest hair has dire consequences and Kramer opens up his Peterman Reality Tour.


Through some still unexplained freaky coincidence, the only way Newman was saved from instant death here was George's ATM PIN code.


What I always especially loved about Seinfeld was that it would take societal conventions and taboos and just turn them completely on their asses. What other show would be so ballsy to off one of the main character’s fiancés (George’s Susan) by having her lick poisonous discount wedding invites and use it as a punchline to a season? What other show would run an entire episode backwards? What other show would make fun of gays, Blacks, Christians, Aryans, and any other group without having GLAAD, the ACLU, The Klan and any other watchdog group firebombing their production offices? Seinfeld was not only funny, but it had balls. It was okay for George, Elaine, Kramer and Jerry to be self-obsessed, rambunctious, free-wheeling miscreants and make it fun. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. In the end, Season 8 was one of the better seasons of the best sitcom ever, hands down. And although the show didn’t wrap up with its best episode, it was kicking as much ass as it ever did right up until the final season.


"I met Oliver, we went back to my place and yada yada yada, I told him it happens to everybody..."


The Package

The best sitcom should have the best features, and this box set is loaded boys and girls. There’s 13 hours of extras, including “Inside Looks”, mini-featurettes on most of the episodes, where the production staff and cast reminisce on the particular episodes and take you inside the goings-on and origins of the stories. There’s also “In the Vault”, deleted scenes for the majority of the episodes and “Yada Yada Yada”, commentaries for the majority as well, featuring the entire cast and many of the production staff including writers and producers. Normally on a halfway decent box set, you’re lucky to get around three or four commentaries, but here, 14 episodes have them. Some like “The Chicken Roaster” even have two.


It was definitely not the best time for Elaine to find out that the Bizarros were also Southside Crips and George, Kramer and Jerry were Northside Bloods...


There’s also a really good feature, “Jerry Seinfeld: Submarine Captain”, which is a 25-minute piece on the production of Season 8. Also running around 25 minutes is “Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That”, which is a crapload of bloopers and outtakes. These include two of my favorite: one on “The Little Kicks”, where Louis-Dreyfus just can’t stop from losing it in the presence of Jerry Stiller when he asks her if she wants a piece of him; and the other being “The Abstinence”, where Seinfeld just can’t possibly get through a scene where Richards is wearing smoky make-up with yellow teeth because Kramer has been exposed to a lifetime of smoke in three days. There’s also “Notes About Nothing”, which are little factoids that run in a caption track while the episodes play. Finally, there’s a curious little throwaway feature called “Sein-imation”, where a couple of episodes are represented by stick figure animation.

10 out of 10