Monday, April 28, 2014

Seinfeld Final Season

Throughout my later high school years, I had a nightly habit of coming home after working my closing shift at Hardees, showering the layers of grease off me, and proceeding to unwind by watching the nightly syndicated reruns of Simpsons and Seinfeld off our local FOX station. It was probably the best hour of my day for a couple of years. Today I am covering the 9th and final season of Seinfeld which ran from 1997-98. It was one of the first television series I started to buy on DVD. I recall it took awhile for the first seasons to hit retail because fan demand was so high, but Sony Video wanted to do it right and finally came to terms to negotiate a deal with the Seinfeld cast and crew to bring them on board for a hefty amount of extra features on each season set.

For about the first seven seasons that hit DVD, I started watching them almost as soon as I procured them when they were released, usually an episode or two before bed and before I knew it I knocked out a season within a couple weeks. I stagnated on these last two seasons though as my DVD/BluRay backlog grew. A few years ago I finally knocked out season eight, and around early February I finally started picking away at the final season. When this final season was taking place in the late 90s was when I was finally starting to get reeled into the show after finally catching enough episodes here and there off syndication to where I was on board with the show. I remember all the hubbub over the much hyped final episode, and the mammoth disappointment on how it ended up being a far different episode than normal, and its bold ending where Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer all end up in jail for a year for essentially being just rotten people all together.

I am going to pick an episode per each of the four disc set to give some quick thoughts about. Off disc one it has got to be "The Serenity Now." That show title is what George's father yells whenever his nerves get in a bunch to remain calm. Since seeing this episode I have consistently repeated the same phrase to remain sane at work! My favorite episode off disc two is "The Strike" which is a landmark episode for two reasons, one we finally discover Kramer's place of employment after all these years and two, it was the episode responsible for creating the Christmas inspired holiday, Festivus! The standout episode on disc three is "The Frogger" where George and Jerry rediscover the classic arcade game, Frogger at their old pizza hangout and proceed to pay homage to the game by recreating it in a classic scene to close out the episode!

I would be remiss not to give another nod to the final, hour long episode on disc four, where initial optimism for NBC picking up Jerry and George's formerly failed pitched sitcom Jerry leads up to all four of the Seinfeld gang winding up in jail. I really enjoyed the plot device used as a way to to see a lot of classic recurring characters make one last cameo before closing the book on the series. I am also going to give a shoutout to Elaine's on and off again boyfriend throughout this season, Puddy! He is probably my favorite of all the former partners of the Seinfeld cast, and watching Elaine and Puddy constantly quibble and break up and get back together too many times throughout the season was a riot to endure!

As I alluded to before, each season of Seinfeld is packed with extras. I watched every episode with the "Notes about Nothing" subtitles, which is a running factoid track about various show notes, and many explanations of the constant pop culture and history references the show is known for. About half the episodes have mini "Inside Look" documentaries, which are short two to five minute interviews with the cast and crew about their memories of certain episodes. Half of the shows also have commentaries from a wide range of the cast and crew of the show, and most episodes also have deleted scenes, including 15 minutes of scenes cut from the final episode because it went so long! Unique to this season set is the option to watch the episode "The Betrayal" in proper sequential order since it originally aired in reverse sequential order. I highly recommend checking out the half hour documentary, The Last Lap, which is all about the show coming to an end and reflecting on Seinfeld's legacy. Finally, also make sure to watch Scenes From the Roundtable, which is about 20 minutes of footage spliced up from a interview session with the core four actors of the show, and series' co-creator Larry David shot nearly a decade after the show was off the air. This is another all-star smattering of extras fitting for the final season.

I cannot slap myself enough for prolonging the final season of Seinfeld on DVD. It is hard to recommend television series on video because damn near everything is available on streaming nowadays, that and given almost any time of day you can usually find a random rerun of Seinfeld on cable. Looking online, I see on various online outlets selling the complete series set running anywhere from $75-100. I highly recommend it if you are a big fan of the show simply because of all the tremendous extras you get out of it. Each season always has a wealthy amount of deleted scenes, commentaries and Inside Looks, and almost every season has a unique, standout 30 to 60 minute long documentary, giving it far more value than just catching it on streaming or reruns. Why do you not own this!? Serenity Now!

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