Sunday, August 2, 2009

yada yada yada

The question “What is your favorite TV-sitcom of all time?” is a valid one. I’ll give anyone that. But the question “What is the best TV-sitcom of all time?” only has one possible answers, for many reasons. The answer is Seinfeld.

By the way, it is my favorite, too. Seinfeld ran for nine seasons and was unusual in every sense: type of humor, type of sitcom, even the numbers – it started off anything but a hit, for three long seasons, and went out with a bang, as the number one show in the US. Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David (a.k.a. George Costanza), you just have to see it to love it. I think there is no other more famous small ensemble in the history of TV: Jerry Seinfeld, Elaine Marie Benes, George Costanza and Cosmo Kramer. A total of 180 episodes were produced, and almost all of them were not only funny, but extremely creative, sometimes even innovative – and always with a catchfrase or two of what can be called “Seinlanguage”. By the way, a little known fact: Jerry is the only one to appear in all episodes. Kramer wasn’t in Florida at “The Pen” or at “The Chinese Restaurant”, George was left out of “The Pen”, and Elaine didn’t go to California to visit Kramer on “The Trip”.

My favorite character is a tough one. It’s really difficult, she show wouldn’t work if anyone was missing. But if I had to chose, I guess I would go with Jerry himself (normally the fan dispute is between George and Kramer). But have you ever noticed the secondary characters? Give me another sitcom with this list of non-main characters: Newman, Frank & Estelle Costanza, Uncle Leo, Susan Ross, J Peterman, Kenny Bania, David Puddy, Jackie Chiles – I mean, come on! And these are the recurrent ones. What about some name-dropping on the one-time appearances (ok, they were back in the finale) like “Mulva” (Dolores), the Soup Nazi, Donald Sanger (a.k.a. the Bubble Boy), Llyod Braun, Babu Bhatt, Poppie, The Drake, Sue Ellen Mischke… and we could go on and on.

I did a quick research on the net, looking at 39 top 10 lists of favorite episodes of the “show about nothing”. Not that surprisingly, more than half of the episodes (94 to be exact) were found in someone’s top ten list. I will share the Top 20 with one quote from each episode for Seinfeld fans to recognize… then I will share my own favorite episodes! Just to show you how great the show was, first the name of some classic episodes that didn’t make the cut: “The Chinese Restaurant”, “The Limo”, “The Abstinence”, “The Pen”, “The Chicken Roaster”, “The Sponge”, “The Pick”, and “The Close Talker”, just to name a few. Here we go:

20 – THE PILOT: “Again with the sweatpants?” – “What? I’m comfortable!” – “You know the message you’re sending to the world with these sweatpants? You’re telling the world, ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.”

19 – THE CIGAR STORE INDIAN: “Hey, you know what would make a great coffee table book? A coffee table book about coffee tables!”

18 – THE BIZARRO JERRY: “She had man-hands!” – “Would you prefer she had no hands at all?” – “Would she have hooks?” – “Do hooks make it more attractive, Jerry?” – “Kinda cool looking.”

17 – THE PUFFY SHIRT: [talking about George’s hands] “Oh, those are nice. Ya know, I never noticed this before. They’re smooth, creamy, delicate, yet masculine.”

16 – THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW: “Jerry, now what you do with your personal life is your business. But when you’re on my set, you clean it up mister!”

15 – THE IMPLANT: "Did you just double-dip that chip?" - "Excuse me?" - "You double-dipped the chip." - "Double-dipped? What are you talking about?" - "You dipped the chip, you took a bite, and you dipped again." - "So?" - "That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip. Look, from now on when you take a chip, just take one dip and end it." - "Well, I'm sorry Timmy, but I don't dip that way." - "Oh, you don't, huh?" - "No. You dip the way you want to dip, I'll dip the way I want to dip."

14 – THE SERENITY NOW: "George, letting my emotions out was the best thing I've ever done. Sure, I'm not funny anymore, but there's more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations."

13 – THE RYE: "One never knows how the gastrointestinal workings of the equine are going to function."

12 – THE JUNIOR MINT: "I have no medical evidence to back me up, but something happened during the operation that staved off that infection. Something beyond science. Something perhaps from above..." - "Mint?" - "Those can be very refreshing."

11 – THE BETRAYEL: “You're not gonna believe what I got in the mail: invitation to Sue Ellen Mischke's wedding.” – “Well, at least the wedding gown will give her some support.” – “Not the point. The wedding is in one week; I got this today.” – “So you think it's a non-vite.” – “It's an un-vitation.”

10 – THE LIBRARY: "She needs a little tenderness. She needs a little understanding. She needs a little Kramer."

9 – THE PARKING GARAGE: "There's too much urinary freedom in this society. I'm proud to hold it in. It builds character."

8 – THE BOYFRIEND: This one deserves two, since it was a double episode: "I snuck a peak." and: "What kind of a shake does he have?" - "Good shake. Perfect shake. Single pump, not too hard. You know, doesn't have to prove anything, but, you know, firm enough to know he was there."

7 – THE OUTING: "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

6 – THE BUBBLE BOY: "That's pie country. They do a lot of baking up there." - "They sell them by the side of the road. Blueberry blackberry." - "Blackberry boysenberry." - "Boysenberry huckleberry." - "Huckleberry raspberry." - "Raspberry strawberry." - "Strawberry cranberry." - "Peach."

5 – THE OPPOSITE: "Who are you, George Costanza?" - "I'm the opposite of every guy you've ever met."

4 – THE HAMPTONS: "Do women know about shrinkage?" - "What do you mean, like laundry?" - "No..." - "Like when a man goes swimming... Afterwards..." - "It shrinks?" - "Like a frightened turtle." - "Why does it shrink?" - "It just does." - "I don't know how you guys walk around with those things."

3 – THE MARINE BIOLOGIST: "The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli."

2 – THE SOUP NAZI: "Has anyone ever told you you look exactly like Al Pacino? You know, Scent Of A Woman? Hoo-wah! Hoo-wah!" - "Very good. Very good." - "Well, I ..." - "You know something?" - "Hmmm?" - "No soup for you!" - "What?" - "Come back one year. Next!"

1 – THE CONTEST: "Are you Master of your Domain?" - "I am King of the County. You?" - "Lord of the Manor." - "I'm Queen of the castle!"

My personal Top Ten include The Contest, The Opposite, The Outing, The Boyfriend, The Library, The Merv Griffin Show and for more episodes outside of the Top 20:

THE PEN: "Why do you need more friends? You've got plenty of friends." - "He's an idealist."

THE DEAL: "You ask me to have lunch, tell me you slept with Elaine, and then say you're not in the mood for details. Now you listen to me. I want details and I want them right now. I don't have a job, I have no place to go. You're not in the mood? Well you get in the mood!" – this is my favorite episode!

THE VOICE: "Breaking up is like knocking over a Coke machine. You can't do it in one push. You gotta rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over."

THE STAKEOUT: "C'mon, there will be people to mock."

There we go. If you have any favorite characters, episodes, secondary characters or quotes on Seinfeld, please do share!