Today’s Seinfeld Diary entry is short, as I have only had time to watch two additional episodes. But they are pretty important ones to me. Episode 206 and 207 are two of the most recognizable episodes of the series for me and indicate a pretty big sea change in the overall cast’s performance. Gone are the awkward silences and the cast’s seeming lack of comfort in their roles. To me, these are the first episodes that reflect the look and feel of the show that I hold in my memory. Let’s call everything before these two episodes pre-production.
In some of the earlier episodes, there were some uncomfortable topical areas. The Chinese Restaurant (episode #206) feels like it starts to move past a lot of that and really becomes just plain out funny. The Phone Message (#207) is pretty much non-stop humor for me. The other dynamic these episodes bring in is the solid theme of character neurosis that would become the show’s staple. Of course, these things are alluded to in the ten episodes that precede them, but The Phone Message really makes it the central theme. We see the tendency to relationship suicide that both Jerry and George suffer from. Elaine would start to exhibit this trait as well. It’s important because it really becomes the reason these three characters are stuck together. To me, they are kind of like the comedic versions of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. I can easily see them uttering the same lines, “Other people have families. Not us.”
The Chinese Restaurant is great as an example of what the show does best, representing a situation that we have all been in numerous times before and exemplifying the hilarious things that can ensue, albeit to an extreme that is often only a mimicry of real life. Regardless, I know I’ve been stuck in the conundrum of the evening dinner plans coming off the rails and threatening the follow-on movie event when out on a date or with friends. The Phone Message is a bit anachronistic in the 21st century, as most of us probably do not leave voice messages with friends or potential romantic partners these days. Still, it is funny to consider what some of the unavoidable pitfalls were back then, where if you left a boned up phone message there was nothing you could do about it.
At this point, the show’s overall quality is on an upswing for me and I am looking more forward to the push to get through the rest. One thing about taking on this massive viewing as a Screens Mission is that it is not so much a slog as it sometimes is to get through a drama or action show. Episodes are short enough that your endurance and patience are not taxed as much as, say, trying to get through a whole season of Game of Thrones, and the content is more lightweight. I love my Arrow, The Flash, Game of Thrones, Constantine, The Walking Dead, and so forth…but it is also great to get the lighter stuff into the mix as well. I am about halfway through Season Two at this point. Five more episodes to go. Soldiering on.