Sunday, June 1, 2008

Top 5 Seinfeld Episodes

I have been meaning to do this one for some time now, I just plumb forgot about it. This is the site I used, though there are probably more helpful sites out there:

Ryan's Top Five:

1. The Contest - For me there's no contest about this one (pun intended and apologized for). Not only was this episode both groundbreaking (for the subject matter and for the advance of the show's popularity) and genius, its greatness has not been matched since. No other show could walk the line so carefully to such brilliant results; anything raunchier wouldn't be as funny, and ditto anything tamer. Memorable lines: Jerry: "Are you still master of your domain?" George: "I am king of the county!" Incidentally, the moment Kramer exits the contest was voted the third funniest moment in TV history (by people who assuredly have less merit in ranking things, but still, it's worth noting). And if you're unaware of the "subject matter," you really need to purchase this season. Do it anyway.

2. The Rye - A perfectly crafted episode that houses zaniness firmly within the realm of realism. The culmination is George fishing for a marble rye bread from a New York apartment, but anyone can recognize being embarrassed by the crass manners of friends or family members. To dissect the episode any further wouldn't be funny, so instead, picture the scene where Jerry mugs an old lady for a loaf of bread ("Shut up you old bag!").

3. The Invitations - If there's a better use of the "shock factor" in a sitcom, I haven't seen it. Killing off people in sitcoms is so out-of-left-field, you would never expect it to happen--let alone for any comedy to result. And if you had any doubts about the vices of the characters before this episode, this should settle it. Favorite scenes--how about George trying to get a date with Marissa Tomei after his fiance dies? Or Elaine's consolation: "I'm... sorry?" This episode was, undoubtedly, shockingly brilliant.

4. The Opposite - If you're unfamiliar with the title, here's a short recap: George does everything against his instinct and Jerry's life always evens out--George's life becomes great and Elaine's life gets shitty. I'm not sure where everyone else ranks this episode, but it's a personal favorite; this is also the one where George gets the job with the Yankees. Here are some of my favorite Seinfeld quotes:

Yankees exec: This is Mr. Costanza. He's one of the applicants.
Steinbrenner: Nice to meet you.
George: Well, I wish I could say the same. But I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past twenty years you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress, as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduce them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego!
Steinbrenner: Hire this man!
George: My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents.

5. The Voice - This is the newest one in the top 5, from season 9. Highlights include "the voice" (i.e., HELLOOOOOOOOO!!! LA HA HA!) that Jerry, George, and Kramer come up with that speaks out of Jerry's girlfriend's belly button. This is also the episode with Kramerica Industries and Kramer's attempt to solve oil spills with rubber balls (LOOK AT ME, I'M ALL COVERED IN OIL!). Brilliance.

Controversial Omissions (i.e. Honorable Mentions), in chronological order:

- The Bubble Boy
- The Library (the Detective Bookman episode, and "Can't-Stand-Ya")
- The Boyfriend Parts 1 and 2 (Keith Hernandez and the "magic loogy" theory
- The Outing ("Not that there's anything WRONG with that!")
- The Puffy Shirt
- The Marine Biologist ("Is anybody here a marine biologist?")
- The Hamptons (definite shrinkage)
- The Race (Jerry as Superman)
- The Soup Nazi: Here's the thing, this is maybe the most classic episode of Seinfeld. However, upon re-watching, this episode basically only has the Soup Nazi angle going for it (Elaine gets an armoire stolen by gay street thieves, which is funny, but not as funny as, say, Kramerica Industries). Now, this is almost certainly the 6th best episode of the series (or, failing that, solidly in the top 10), but it's not as complete as the top 5 above.
- The Bizarro Jerry
- The Little Kicks (Elaine dancing)
- The Abstinence (George gives up sex and becomes brilliant, Elaine gives up sex and becomes a moron)
- The Susie (including George's classic answering machine message, "Believe it or not George isn't at home, please leave a message at the beep..."
- The Strike ("It's a Festivus for the rest of us!")

Dan's Top 5:

The Contest - ep. 411 - I love the fact that the central conflict in this episode is sexual frustration, but every reference is in the form of innuendo. As a result, it gets to stay tame enough for network television. No use in saying too much more, as Ryan sums it up sufficiently.

The Gum - ep. 710 - The taboo of insanity is the central focus here. What I love about this episode is how well everything is interconnected in true Seinfeld fashion. (Elaine complains that a man is washing the sidewalk with a hose, and later George cannot put out the fire in the Jon Voight car because it's been disconnected.) One of my favorite moments ever is when George runs after Deena, shouting, "This isn't mine. I got it from the Institute. The Institute!"

The Frogger - ep. 918 - Really a commentary on the unachievable nature of immortality. Elaine destroys a piece of Edward VIII's legacy by eating a piece of decades-old wedding cake, George's attempt at immortality comes in the form of trying to preserve his high score on a Frogger machine, only to fail when executing the Frogger strategy on a real-life street.

The Airport - ep. 412 - This is probably the first Seinfeld episode I really memorized. I suspect that a lot of sitcoms have done episodes regarding an airport, but this one was actually funny and memorable. Jerry and Elaine highlight the differences between first class and coach, which is to be expected, but the true comedy of the episode is Kramer's pursuit of his old roommate for $300, and George's interactions with a major criminal.

The Fusilli Jerry - ep. 621 - Another episode that deals primarily with sex - (the episode where numerous "moves" are exchanged). But really, the highlight of this episode is Kramer's "ASSMAN" license plates. "I'm Cosmo Kramer, the assman!" A million-to-one shot.

Honorable Mentions - Let's not kid ourselves... every other episode.

Tim's Top 5:
I'm doing this all from memory, so I could be horribly wrong. But they're the episodes that strike me as particularly memorable.

1. The Contest - Yeah, Ryan had it right. It was a revelation to have on television and it opened the door to a lot of similarly themed episodes when the most explicit thing on TV before had been a character on Growing Pains that was named Boner for no apparent reason except for Alan Thicke's wanton pedophilia (note: Alan Thicke is not actually necessarily a pedophile).

2. The Abstinence - George becomes brilliant by not having sex, Elaine becomes a moron while not sleeping with Bob Odenkirk so he can become a doctor. Kramer opens a smoking club in his apartment and gets to go see Jackie Chiles, and George decides being a genius is still less important than sleeping with a Portuguese waitress.

3. The Little Kicks - Elaine dances, Elaine turns a co-worker onto George by warning her to avoid him, Kramer gets Jerry to end up as a movie bootlegger, and the episode ties up all its loose ends with one seamless conclusion that will make you cry, cry again.

4. The Library - I swear that Seinfeld is responsible for Phillip Baker Hall coming back out of the woodwork as an actor, and that alone would make it well worth including this episode. But it's also flawless casting, Phillip Baker Hall is the best library cop you could envision, the Can'tstandya scenes are sheer hilarity, and Kramer's seduction of the librarian completes the trifecta. Definitely the best of the early episodes.

5. The Andrea Doria - Jerry conspires to get Newman transferred to Hawaii but loses Newman's job by doing too good a job delivering the mail; George tells his tale of woe to compete with the Andrea Doria survivor for an apartment in a coop; Elaine has a big head; Kramer goes to the vet to get a pill for his cough.

Honorable mention: The Beard - The Melrose Place polygraph is an all-time highlight. But that's it, because if I kept doing reearch, I'd just have to change my list. I'll just have to settle for being wrong.


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Fronge said...

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