The legendary Seinfeld made its debut over thirty years ago. Mind-boggling, isn’t it? I don’t think I have to tell anyone that the show is part of our vernacular to this day, right up there with The Princess Bride and The Wizard of Oz. Even if you don’t watch the show, if you’ve ever used, for instance, the phrase, “Serenity now!” or “It’s a Festivus miracle!” you’re quoting Seinfeld.
So yeah, I thought I’d put together a list of some of the show’s greatest hits and one also-ran. Don’t anyone hate me if any of your favorites are missing, because this was a tough choice. So tough, in fact, that I may have to revisit the Seinfeld universe in the near future, maybe from a thematic angle. You all may notice a certain lack of spoilers here, simply because carrots must dangle, even when it comes to a thirty-year old show. It’s still just too good.
Anyway, here we go…
The Stakeout (Season 1, Episode 3)
“Simon, Bennett, Robbins, Oppenheim, and Taft. Simon, Bennett, Robbins, Oppenheim, and Taft.”
Oh, this episode sets up so many of the show’s dynamics. The internal monologue. The double-speak. Jerry and Elaine’s wobbly platonic relationship. Jerry and George going to great lengths to flirt with women. Most importantly, we can’t forget that “The Stakeout” is the debut of the famous Art Vandelay.
The Pony Remark (Season 2, Episode 2)
“It was the pride of Krakow.”
The perils of the offhand remark are the impetus for this episode, where what goes around comes around introduced fans to Len Lesser as Uncle Larry and Barney Martin as Jerry’s dad, Morty.
The Chinese Restaurant (Season 2, Episode 11)
This is where Seinfeld took the concept of nothing happening and squeezed it into a real-time something: waiting for a table at a Chinese restaurant. It’s one of my favorite episodes for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is Jerry’s desire to make a showing of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
The Pen (Season 3, Episode 3)
Anyone who’s ever slept on a hide-a-bed can relate to this one. Poor Elaine. And poor Jerry. Between the controversy over a space pen and an ill-fated foray into scuba diving, this trip to Florida is a setup for a major headache…and backache.
The Parking Garage (Season 3, Episode 6)
“I don’t even know L. Ron Hubbard.”
Ah yes, a cautionary tale about losing a car in a parking garage and nature calling just a bit too loudly. Seinfeld always did these self-contained episodes really, really well.
The Pez Dispenser (Season 3, Episode 14)
“Jerry put a Pez dispenser on my leg.”
My latent pianist self likes “The Pez Dispenser” because weird stuff can happen at performances, particularly small, intimate ones where shenanigans are easily noticed. Maybe it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.
Oh, and the way Noel (Elizabeth Morehead) cracks her knuckles before starting Beethoven’s “Pathétique”? Girl, no. Yuck.
The Junior Mint (Season 4, Episode 19)
“Something happened that staved off that affection. Something beyond science. Something, perhaps, from above.”
The best way to sum up this episode without spoiling anything is this: Anyone who sees it will never look at Junior Mints in the same way again. It’s like The Birds, only with candy.
The Puffy Shirt (Season 5, Episode 3)
“But I don’t wanna be a pirate!”
Poor Jerry. Again. On the other hand he was in good company, since Elvis had at least one puffy shirt of his own.
The Diplomat’s Club (Season 6, Episode 21)
“Jerry, I don’t want you to freak out.”
I’ll be honest–Season Six is actually my least favorite in terms of quality and memorability. Sure, there’s “The Fusilli Jerry,” but that ventured a little too much into TMI territory. “The Diplomats Club” is fun if only to see how long it takes for Jerry to have a meltdown.
The Soup Nazi (Season 7, Episode 6)
“No soup for you!”
“The Soup Nazi” makes all kinds of top ten lists and no wonder–it’s infectious. Ironically enough, the Soup Nazi character was loosely based on real-life soup kitchen owner Al Yeganeh, who, understandably, wasn’t happy with his newfound fame and cussed out Seinfeld when the latter paid him a visit before showing him the door. As of this writing the restaurant is still going strong.
The Muffin Tops (Season 8, Episode 21)
“It’s where the muffin breaks free of the pan and does its own thing.”
Ah yes, who remembers when the Eggo Company sold Muffin Tops? That’s how big Seinfeld really is. This episode is also fun because Kramer drives a school bus around New York narrating his own life story. His patrons might get queasy or bored, but it doesn’t matter because they are there to behold the curiosity that is Cosmo Kramer.
The Puerto Rican Day (Season 9, Episode 20)
“I love a parade!”
Our four friends get stuck on the way back into the city during the Puerto Rican Day Parade and try all kinds of desperate measures to get through the traffic, even pretending to househunt or leading an expedition under the bleachers. My husband calls this the Last Real Seinfeld Episode.
Yeah, we’ll definitely be coming back to Seinfeld someday–I have some ideas brewing already. What are some of your favorite episodes? Thanks for reading, all, and I hope to see you on Tuesday for our next “During World War Two” installment…
Seinfeld is available as a complete set (DVD) or as individual seasons 1 and 2 (DVD), 3 (DVD), 4 (DVD), 5 (DVD), 6 (DVD), 7 (DVD), 8 (DVD), and 9 (DVD) from Amazon.
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One thought on “That Show About Nothing”
Cartwright, I had a pony, can’t stand ya, he pulled it, out. It ? It! Out!, I was in the pool !, George visiting his Mom in the hospital because she caught him masterbating, George eating the eclair out of the garbage, poppy’s pizza (this episode is probably the grossest and my favorite)