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Seinfeld


Format Sitcom
Run time 21 Minutes
Creator Larry David
Jerry Seinfeld
Starring Jerry Seinfeld
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Michael Richards
Jason Alexander
Country USA
Network NBC
Original run July 5, 1989��ay 14, 1998
No. of episodes 180 (incl 4 clip shows)

Seinfeld is a television sitcom, considered to be one of the most popular and influential of the 1990s in the U.S., to the point where it is often cited as epitomizing the self-obsessed and ironic culture of the decade. In 2002, TV Guide released a list of the top 50 greatest shows of all time and ranked Seinfeld #1. The show stars Jerry Seinfeld playing Jerry Seinfeld, a character named after and based largely on himself, and is set predominantly in an apartment block in Manhattan's Upper West Side, New York. It features an eclectic cast of characters, mainly Jerry's friends and acquaintances ��Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards), George Costanza (Jason Alexander) and Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus). It is produced by Castle-Rock Entertainment (then helmed by famed actor and producer, Rob Reiner) and is distributed by Columbia Pictures Television (now Sony Pictures Television).

Overview

The show has been famously described as "the show about nothing", as most of the comedy was based around the largely inconsequential minutiae of everyday life, and often involved petty rivalries and elaborate schemes to gain the smallest advantage over other individuals. The characters have also been described as utterly selfish and amoral; the show standing out by depicting these traits in a comedic fashion. (However, it should be noted that a common motif concerns characters' attempts to do nice things for people, only to have them backfire exponentially.) In contrast to many other sitcoms, the allowing of scenes to lapse into sentimentality was generally avoided, and Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's dictum of "no hugging, no learning" gave the show its distinctively cold and cynical tone. However, themes of illogical social graces and customs, neurotic and obsessive behavior, and the mysterious workings of relationships ran in numerous episodes, making it possible to categorize the show as a comedy of manners. The show's creators made a conscious effort to reflect the activities of real people, rather than the idealized escapist characters often seen on television, although many episodes do feature surreal escapades, often based on scenes from famous movies.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, and Jerry Seinfeld as himself
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, and Jerry Seinfeld as himself

Previous shows on television were almost always family or co-worker driven, and Seinfeld holds itself up as being a then-rare example of a sitcom wherein none of the characters were related by blood or employed, if at all, in the same building or business.
Tom's Restaurant, a diner at 112th St. and Broadway in Manhattan, referred to as "Monk's Cafe" in the show.
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Tom's Restaurant, a diner at 112th St. and Broadway in Manhattan, referred to as "Monk's Cafe" in the show.

According to Bruce Fretts' 1993 The "Entertainment Weekly" "Seinfeld" Companion, Seinfeld's audience was, "TV-literate, demographically desirable urbanites, for the most part-who look forward to each weekly episode in the Life of Jerry with a baby-boomer generation's self-involved eagerness." Likewise, in episodes adhering to the original concept, the show featured clips of Seinfeld himself delivering a standup routine at the beginning and end of each episode, the theme of which relates to the events depicted in the plot. By this device the distinction between the actor Jerry Seinfeld and the character who is portrayed by him is deliberately blurred. In later seasons, these standup clips became less frequent. All of the main characters were modeled after Seinfeld's real life acquaintances.

Another violation of the fiction convention of isolating characters from the actors playing them, and separating the characters' world from the actors' and audience's world, was a story arc that concerned the characters' roles in promoting a television sitcom series named Jerry. Jerry was much like Seinfeld in that Seinfeld played himself, and that the show was "about nothing". Jerry was launched in the 1993 season premiere of Seinfeld, in an episode titled "The Pilot". This story arc, along with other examples of self-reference, have led many critics to point out the postmodern nature of the show.
Jerry Seinfeld performing his famous stand-up comedy at the ending of an episode ("The Boyfriend Part. 2)
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Jerry Seinfeld performing his famous stand-up comedy at the ending of an episode ("The Boyfriend Part. 2)

According to Katherine Gantz, this entanglement of character and actor relationships "seems to be a part of the show's complex appeal. Whereas situation comedies often dilute their cast, adding and removing characters in search of new plot possibilities, Seinfeld instead interiorizes; the narrative creates new configurations of the same limited cast to keep the viewer and the characters intimately linked. In fact, it is precisely this concentration on the nuclear set of four personalities that creates the Seinfeld community".

Another attribute that makes Seinfeld exceptional is that in almost every episode, several story threads are presented at the beginning, generally involving the various characters in separate and unrelated situations, which then converge and are interwoven towards the end of the episode in an ironic fashion. Due to the densely-plotted construction of the storylines, attempts to summarize the action in a given script are generally more verbose than one would expect for a sitcom. Despite any separate plot strands, the narratives show "consistent efforts to maintain [the] intimacy" between the small cast of characters. "Much of Seinfeld's plot and humor hinge on outside personalities threatening��nd ultimately failing��o invade the foursome, ... especially where Jerry and George are concerned." (Gantz 2000)

Gantz maintains that another factor in, or further proof of, spectators' and characters' participation in a Seinfeld community is the large amount of in-slang, "a lexicon of Seinfeldian code words and recurring phrases that go unnoticed by the infrequent or 'unknowing' viewer". These include Bubble Boy, Biff Loman, Master of My Domain, Junior Mints, Shrinkage, Mulva, Crazy Joe Davola, Man Hands, Yada Yada, Dr. Van Nostran, Spongeworthy, and Art Vandelay.

The show premiered as The Seinfeld Chronicles on May 31, 1990 on NBC. Seinfeld was not an immediate success. After the pilot was shown, on July 5, 1989, a pickup by NBC did not seem likely and the show was actually offered to Fox, which declined to pick up the show. It was only thanks to Rick Ludwin, head of late night and special events for NBC, for diverting money from his budget, that the next four episodes were filmed. After nine years on the air and 180 episodes filmed, the series finale of Seinfeld aired on May 14, 1998. It was watched by a huge audience, estimated at 76 million viewers. Jerry Seinfeld holds both the record for the "most money refused" according to the Guinness Book of World Records by refusing an offer to continue the show for 5 million dollars per episode, and another record for the Highest Ever Annual Earnings For A TV Actor[1], while the show itself holds the record for the Highest Television Advertising Rates[2].

In the UK Seinfeld was screened on BBC TWO, usually at around 11:30 PM. Fans and critics constantly campaigned for an earlier time slot, but it never happened. The show was subsequently rerun on the Paramount Comedy Channel on satellite in a mid-evening slot.

In 2004 a deal was negotiated to make Seinfeld available on DVD for the first time. Due to legal problems with the cast involving episode commentary and other DVD extras, the release was pushed back. The first 3 seasons were released November 23, 2004, and season 4 was released in May 2005. The DVD packaging claims that the series was remastered on HDTV to provide the best possible picture quality.


Characters

See also: Seinfeld characters and culture


Main Characters


Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld (played by Jerry Seinfeld)�� standup comedian who seeks out relationships with attractive women which rarely last more than one episode. A number of episodes involve some obsession of Jerry's that results in offending the romantic interest and ruining the relationship. Among his strongest obsessions are his impulsive need for neatness, his love of Superman and for cereal. There is a reference to Superman, either visually, conversationally, or thematically, in over 70% of the episodes in the series.
Main characters on Seinfeld TV program
Main characters on Seinfeld TV program


George Costanza

George Louis Costanza (played by Jason Alexander)�� "short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man", the neurotic George is a self-loathing, congenital liar domineered by his parents, especially his father Frank. He has held many jobs, including that of a real estate agent, a bra salesman and an assistant to the traveling secretary for the New York Yankees. He also worked briefly at a sporting equipment company called Play Now and at Kruger Industrial Smoothing (and��ery briefly��t Pendant Publishing). His relationships with women were always unsuccessful, including his engagement to Susan Ross, played by Heidi Swedberg. The character of George was largely based on the show's co-creator and Seinfeld's real-life best friend, comedian Larry David. Episode plots would frequently feature George manufacturing elaborate deceptions at work or in his relationships, in order to gain or maintain some petty advantage. These schemes would invariably backfire. Many of George's predicaments were based on ones that Larry David had found himself in at one point or another in his own life.


Cosmo Kramer

Cosmo Kramer (played by Michael Richards)��all, wild-haired, Kramer is the most eccentric Seinfeld character. He is frequently involved in hare-brained schemes to get rich. Undoubtedly the most popular character on the show, he is often described as the "action character" that draws audiences with his wild and unusual antics and movements. In one show, Kramer is called a "hipster doofus." He is based on Larry David's neighbor, Kenny Kramer. Kramer adopts a different bizarre habit or money-making scheme almost every episode. He is friends with Newman, as well as a wide variety of (mostly off-screen) acquaintances and shady partners.


Elaine Benes

Elaine Marie Benes (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus)��ike Jerry, much of Elaine's life revolves around trying to arrange relationships with attractive individuals, although some of hers last longer than Jerry's. The most noticeable is her on-again, off-again relationship with David Puddy (played by Patrick Warburton). She has also held jobs for Pendant Publishing, The J. Peterman Catalog, and as a personal assistant to the wealthy Mr. Pitt. Elaine was a composite of two girlfriends of the creators, one being writer Carol Leifer, Seinfeld's real-life ex-girlfriend. In the show Elaine and Jerry dated, and "broke up", timeline-wise, just before the first episode, remaining friends over the course of the show. Elaine went to Tufts University (her "safety school") and is a writer, though sometimes not realizing it. Elaine is most often a victim of circumstance, with plots surrounding her usually coming into conflict with her inadequate boyfriends or the arbitrary demands of her eccentric employers.


Recurring Characters

This is quick list of recurring characters. For more see: Seinfeld characters and culture

* Newman (played by Wayne Knight) ��Jerry and Kramer's neighbor; a portly, vengeful and spasmodic U.S. postal carrier
* Estelle Costanza (played by Estelle Harris) ��George's Mother
* Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller) ��George's Father
* Susan Ross (played by Heidi Swedberg) ��Ex-fianc鐃� of George, dies from toxic wedding invitations
* Helen Seinfeld (played by Liz Sheridan) ��Jerry's Mother
* Morty Seinfeld (played by Barney Martin) ��Jerry's Father
* J. Peterman (played by John O'Hurley) ��the eccentric and loquacious boss of Elaine
* Mr. Steinbrenner (voice by Larry David) ��George Costanza's boss while working for the Yankees
* Uncle Leo (played by Len Lesser) ��the unavoidable and annoying Uncle of Jerry
* David Puddy (played by Patrick Warburton) ��on-again, off-again, sometimes "religious", boyfriend of Elaine.
* Mr. Wilhelm (played by Richard Herd) ��George's superior at the New York Yankees
* Mr. Lippman (played by Richard Fancy) ��Elaine's boss at Pendant Publishing
* Mr. (Justin) Pitt (played by Ian Abercrombie) ��hired Elaine to tend to his personal needs, such as buying socks.
* Mickey Abbott (played by Danny Woodburn) ��a little person who took on various acting gigs with Kramer
* Jackie Chiles (played by Phil Morris) ��Kramer's Lawyer, an obvious parody of Johnnie Cochran
* Kenny Bania (played by Steve Hytner) ��an unfunny stand-up comedian who idolizes Jerry
* Ruthie (played by Ruth Cohen) ��the (mostly) silent lady cashier at Monk's

Memorable incidents

See also Seinfeld sayings


The Dry Heave
Elaine Doing the Dry Heave
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Elaine Doing the Dry Heave

In the episode "The Little Kicks" Elaine does the notorious Dry Heave dance in front of co-workers at a J. Peterman party (to which George and later Jerry exclaim "Sweet Fancy Moses!"), thoroughout the entire episode she is made fun of by co-workers behind her back, at first she believes it is George until she is told it is her horrendous dancing in which she moves her thumbs around and does little kick-ups with her feet. She is eventually told the reason and she films over a bootlegged copy of Cry, Cry, Again.


Moops

In the episode "The Bubble Boy", George claims "The Moops" is the answer to the Trivial Pursuit question "Who invaded Spain in the 8th century A.D.?". The Bubble Boy contested the answer, claiming it was the Moors (which is correct). George, with his stubborn nature, in reaction to the belligerent arrogance of the Bubble Boy, and out of spite, refused to accept the response in favor of the (presumably misprinted) answer given by the card. This incident, based on an actual error spotted by one of the writers whilst playing the home edition of Jeopardy!, has become a legendary moment for Seinfeld fans.


The Contest

One of the most controversial Seinfeld episodes, "The Contest", centers around a pact of self-denial between Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine. The four place a bet (with Elaine given slightly better odds) on who can go the longest without masturbating. In the show however, they were able to convey the meaning without actually using the word "masturbation". Kramer's early exit from the bet has become a classic moment in Seinfeld history, with his simple "I'm out!" as he slams his cash on the counter. This episode also features Jane Leeves (of Frasier fame) as "The Virgin", Jerry's girlfriend at the time.

Other classic moments include: Jerry's rant about the woman across the street, who struts around naked in her apartment, compromising his ability to remain "Master of His Domain" (and the same woman responsible for Kramer's early departure); Elaine's fascination with John F. Kennedy, Jr.; George's subtle introduction of the subject matter with the phrase, "My mother caught me"; and the "ease" with which the characters can sleep at night, depending on their current standing in the contest.

In an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, during an argument between Larry David and Jason Alexander, it is mentioned that David participated in a contest exactly like this one.


The Soup Nazi

Considered by many to be one of the most memorable episodes of the series, this finds the gang obsessed with a new soup stand. But the delicious soup doesn't come without a price, as customers must follow the strict rules set by the draconian owner known to most as The Soup Nazi. Besides soup, much of the focus of the episode falls on an armoire that Elaine buys on the street and has Kramer watch, only to have it stolen by a couple of effeminate thugs, played by Yul Vazquez and John Paragon. Larry Thomas guest stars as The Soup Nazi, a role that netted the actor an Emmy nomination.

One of the most memorable lines of the series is when the Soup Nazi refuses to serve soup, yelling "No Soup for you!"


Music

Music featured in the show

* "Superman March" - John Williams - In "The Race" (Season 6, #10)
* "Manana (Is Good Enough For Me)" - Jackie Davis - In "The Blood" (Season 9, #160).
* Theme from The Greatest American Hero ([3]) - In "The Susie" (Season 8, #149) ([4])
* "Morning Train (9 to 5)" - Sheena Easton - In "The Bizarro Jerry" (Season 8, #137) and "The Butter Shave" (Season 9, #157)
* "Slow Ride" - Foghat - In "The Slicer" (Season 9, #162). Elaine tunes into her bedside radio and offers up a few characteristic dance moves.
* "Downtown" - Petula Clark - in "The Bottle Deposit (1)" (Season 7, #131). George looks for clues about his work assignment when Wilhelm mentions the song to him.
* "Wouldn't It Be Nice" - The Beach Boys - In "The Hamptons" (Season 5, #85).
* "Desperado" and "Witchy Woman" - The Eagles - In "The Checks" (Season 8, #141)
* "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" - Green Day - From the album "Nimrod"- In The Clip Show, Part 2 (Season 9, #21).
* "(Once, Twice) Three Times a Lady" - The Commodores - In "The Pothole" (Season 8 #15).
* "Hello" - Lionel Richie - In "The Engagment" (Season 7, #1), "The Invitations" (Season 7. #24), "The Voice" (Season 9, #2).
* "Everybody's Talkin'" - Harry Nilsson - In "The Mom and Pop Store" (Season 6, #8).
* "Shining Star" - Earth, Wind and Fire - In "The Little Kicks"

(Season 8, #4). Elaine does the infamous dry heave dance to this.

* "Theme From The Godfather" - Nino Rota - In "The Bris" (Season 5, #5)

"The Seinfeld Curse"

Following the end of Seinfeld, a number of cast members became stars of their own television series. However, these were all short-lived and unsuccessful, giving rise to the term "Seinfeld Curse" to describe the career of the actors post-Seinfeld. Actors to have their own show included:

* Jason Alexander- Bob Patterson, Listen Up, Duckman
* Michael Richards- The Michael Richards Show
* Julia Louis-Dreyfus- Watching Ellie

As an exception, Larry David's series Curb Your Enthusiasm, reliant on the much of the humor that characterized George Costanza, has been a success. When asked about the curse, David once said, "It's so completely idiotic.... It's very hard to have a successful sitcom." [5] Since most sitcoms are unsuccessful, the "curse" could simply be coincidence. In the summmer of 2005, John O'Hurley, who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld, finished runner-up on the American ABC reality series Dancing With The Stars to Kelly Monaco, possibly putting the so called curse to rest.


Ending
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The show ends with the four being sentenced to one year in prison in Latham County, Massachusetts after they are arrested for not obeying a fictional Good Samaritan law. This led to a long trial that brought back many characters of the show's past acting as character witnesses against the group for their "selfish" acts over the years of the series. The Virgin, the low talker, and the Soup Nazi, are called to the witness stand- among many more old enemies and acquaintences. In a last bit of comedy, Jerry is seen wearing an orange prison suit with "Latham" printed on his right front side, "Latham County" being printed on the backs of the uniforms. He is telling prison jokes and is threatened by a fellow prisoner (voiced by Larry David who returned to write the finale) who says he will "cut" him.


References

* Seinfeld, Jerry. Sein Language. Bantam. 1993. ISBN 0553096060.
* Fretts, Bruce. The Entertainment Weekly Seinfeld Companion. New York: Warner Books. 1993. ISBN 0446670367.
* William Irwin (Ed.). Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing. Peru, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company. 1999. ISBN 0812694090.
* Greg Gattuso. The Seinfeld Universe: The Entire Domain. New York: Citadel Press. 1996. ISBN 0806520019.


Sources

* Gantz, Katherine. "Not That There's Anything Wrong with That": Reading the Queer in Seinfeld. In Calvin Thomas (Ed.). Straight with a Twist: Queer Theory and the Subject of Heterosexuality. Champaign. Illinois: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252068130.
* Rosenthal, Phil (November 18, 2004). Gold, Jerry! Gold! Chicago Sun Times.

See also

* List of Seinfeld episodes
* The Seinfeld Chronicles (pilot)
* Festivus (Holiday)
* Soup Nazi (character)
* Rochelle, Rochelle (series of notable episodes)

External links
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:
Seinfeld

* Seinfeld.com
* Seinfeld at IMDb
* Seinfeld at Yahoo! TV
* TV.com: Seinfeld
* Seinology.com
* Stanthecaddy.com
* Fortunes and pictures from Seinfeld

Lists

* The Food
* Mike "The News Guy"'s absurdly obsessive 'Lists' site

Frequently Asked Questions

* SeinFAQ - The unofficial Seinfeld FAQ

Episodes

* Seinfeld - TV Series - TV.com

Scripts

* Seinology
* Seinfeld Scripts
* The Original Seinfeld Scripts Archive

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