- Buy the DVD
Reviewed by Gerardo Orlando
he best show in television history is finally starting to come out on DVD with the release of Seasons 1 & 2 and Season 3. “Seinfeld” had it all – great writing, great characters and a great cast. But the show was better than the rest because it was unique and it had attitude. They made fun of everything, and they never fell into the trap of recycling clichés or relying on sappy sentimentality. The best rule for the writers was “no hugging,” so in later years the show never jumped the shark with lame episodes where the characters had to confront illness, death or, God forbid, babies. On the contrary, they made fun of such topics, killing off annoying characters and making fun of ugly babies. Nothing was off-limits, and they pulled it off because it was so damned funny.
The show was all about the comedy, and it mirrored Jerry Seinfeld’s standup act, focusing on the amusing and absurd aspects of everyday life. In the early seasons, each show opened and then later cut to Seinfeld’s standup routines, which would track the topic of that show. The devise was funny and effective, but they later abandoned it because it was taking too much time away from the stories.
The storylines on “Seinfeld” were hilarious because they covered topics that weren’t explored on other sitcoms. In later seasons the creators joked that it was a show about nothing, but really it was a show about everything. No topic was too big or small for the show, and nothing was off-limits. They reveled in creating uncomfortable circumstances where there were no clear rules on the proper behavior, and then the characters would analyze and over-analyze the situation, leading to awkward and hilarious outcomes. The infamous “contest” episode from season four dealing with masturbation is a great example.
The pilot was shot in 1989, and then the first season, consisting of a measly four episodes, was shot in 1990. It’s fascinating to watch the early shows as the writers and cast members start to develop the characters, but even in the first season the show found a voice and rhythm that was unlike other shows. In “The Stakeout,” Jerry tries to track down a woman he met at a party by staking out the lobby of the building where she works. George (Jason Alexander) joins him and the two of them start working out their plan. The dialogue and interaction between them is hilarious, giving viewers at the time an early glimpse at the many funny years to come.
By the second season (which is really the first full season), the show started producing hilarious episodes that would rank among the series’ best, many of which pushed the envelope in terms of what viewers expected from sitcoms. “The Chinese Restaurant” was shot exclusively in a Chinese restaurant as Jerry, George and Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) were forced to wait for a table. The network hated the idea and resisted putting it on the air, but it turned out to be one of the funniest episodes and it set “Seinfeld” apart as a new kind of sitcom.
“The Apartment” is the funniest episode from this season, as Jerry makes the mistake of offering Elaine an apartment in his building. Another memorable episode is “The Deal,” as Jerry and Elaine introduce sex back into their relationship, trying to set up rules that might allow them to have sex yet still be friends. Larry David acknowledges in the DVD extras that he wrote the episode thinking the show would never get picked up.
The extras on the DVD are great. The lead cast members return for interviews and commentary, and Seinfeld and Larry David join executives from NBC and Castle Rock to explain how the series came to life. Fans won’t be disappointed.