Case Number 08607

SEINFELD: SEASON SIX

Sony // 1994 // 551 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // February 15th, 2006

The Charge

Jerry: "Why Fusilli?"
Kramer: "Because you're silly!"

Opening Statement

Yes, I know it's always on. That's not the way to watch Seinfeld. This is the way to watch Seinfeld.

Facts of the Case

The 24 episodes that make up Seinfeld: Season Six break down as follows:

Disc One
"The Chaperone"
Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld, Comedian) dates a Miss America contestant, who requires the chaperoning services of pageant-expert Kramer (Michael Richards, UHF); Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Deconstructing Harry) gets a job as a personal assistant; George (Jason Alexander, Pretty Woman) makes some changes in the Yankees' uniforms. The episode that introduces us to Mr. Pitt (Ian Abercrombie, Army of Darkness) and teaches us that cotton breathes better than polyester.

"The Big Salad"
George grows frustrated when his girlfriend (Michelle Forbes, Kalifornia) takes credit for buying Elaine's lunch; Kramer is wrapped up in a car chase; Jerry's girlfriend becomes much less appealing when he learns she's already been dumped by Newman (Wayne Knight, To Die For).

"The Pledge Drive"
Elaine breaks up her friend's relationship after some phone-identity confusion; Jerry hosts a telethon for PBS, and scores Kramer a job answering phones; George suspects everyone is flicking him off. The episode that gives us the "high talker" (which refers to pitch, and should not be confused with the "low talker," which refers to volume) and teaches us all to eat a Snickers bar with a knife and fork.

"The Chinese Woman"
Jerry asks out a woman named Donna Chang (Angela Dohrmann, Nash Bridges) whose phone lines have gotten crossed with George's, only to discover that she's not Chinese; George's parents (Jerry Stiller and Estelle Harris) decide to divorce. The episode that teaches us that you can't cast aspersions on a man just for wearing a cape.

"The Couch"
Jerry buys a new couch, only to have its integrity compromised by Poppy (Reni Santoni, Private Parts); George joins a book club, but decides to rent the movie instead; Kramer finally opens his make-your-own-pizza parlor; Elaine's opinions on reproductive rights threaten her relationship with a moving man.

"The Gymnast"
Jerry dates a former Russian Olympian; George reveals his penchant for taking his shirt off when he goes to the bathroom; Elaine's boss, Mr. Pitt, becomes obsessed with a 3-D art poster.

Disc Two

"The Mom and Pop Store"
Kramer's efforts to keep a Mom-and-Pop shoe repair shop in business backfire; George buys a LeBaron he believes once belonged to Jon Voight; Jerry tries to score an invite to a party being thrown by dentist Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston, Malcolm in the Middle).

"The Soup"
Jerry is given a brand new Armani suit by rival comic Kenny Bania (Steve Hytner, Eurotrip) in exchange for a meal; George believes that a waitress at the coffee shop is lying about having a boyfriend; Elaine finds herself living with a British freeloader. The episode that gives us our first taste of Bania ("I've been working out! I'm huge!") and teaches us that soup counts.

"The Secretary"
Jerry suspects that his dry cleaners have been wearing his clothes; Elaine investigates the "skinny mirrors" at Barneys; George forces himself to hire an unattractive secretary (Vicki Lewis, Pushing Tin) and ends up sleeping with her anyway.

"The Switch"
Jerry dates a woman who never laughs and discovers her roommate is much more appealing; Elaine loans out Mr. Pitts's tennis racquet before a big match; George suspects that the woman he's dating (Charlotte Lewis, Embrace of the Vampire) is bulimic. The episode that teaches us what it means to be an "orgy guy" and finally tells us Kramer's first name.

"The Race"
Jerry finally scores himself a Lois, who turns out to be working for his arch nemesis, Duncan Meyer (Don McManus, Magnolia); George pretends to be a communist to get a date, while Elaine dates an actual communist; Kramer gets a job as a department store Santa.

"The Label Maker"
Jerry gives up his Super Bowl tickets to Tim Whatley so he can go to the Drake's wedding; Elaine suspects the label maker Tim Whatley gives Jerry as a thank you is a re-gift; George is disturbed to discover that his girlfriend (Jessica Tuck, Secretary) lives with a man very similar to himself; Kramer and Newman engage in the game of Risk. The episode that puts the phrase "re-gift" into the public consciousness.

Disc Three

"The Scofflaw"
George finds out that the gang's friend Gary Fogel (Jon Lovitz, Trapped in Paradise) doesn't really have cancer, but offers to keep it a secret in exchange for a parking space; Elaine tries to re-gain the upper hand with a pompous ex-boyfriend who's very protective of his glasses; Kramer helps a cop track down a scofflaw. The episode that gives us the first appearance of George's toupee.

"The Highlights of 100"
The series' 100th show: a two-part clip show featuring bloopers, outtakes, and introductions by Jerry Seinfeld.

"The Beard"
Elaine poses as her gay co-worker's (Rob Mailhouse, Speed) girlfriend; Kramer offers to appear in a police lineup; Jerry takes a polygraph test to prove he doesn't watch Melrose Place; George's newfound confidence allows him to ask out an old friend of Kramer's, who turns out to be bald. The episode that gives us the last appearance of George's toupee.

"The Kiss Hello"
Kramer institutes a new program in the apartment building to bring the residents closer together; Elaine's new friend (Wendie Malick, Waiting..., Just Shoot Me!) insists on kissing everyone upon greeting them; Jerry gets involved in a family dispute involving Uncle Leo and fifty dollars.

"The Doorman"
Jerry makes an enemy of a doorman (Larry Miller, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang); Elaine and Jerry scheme to replace a stolen couch; Frank Costanza moves in with George and invents a man's garment with Kramer. The episode that gives us the "Bro" (or is the "Manssiere?").

Disc Four

"The Jimmy"
Jerry is disturbed by Tim Whatley's new "Adults Only" dental practice, complete with copies of Penthouse in the waiting room; George goes into the shoe business with a friend who only refers to himself in the third person; Kramer is made the guest of honor at a Mel Torme benefit after being mistaken for mentally challenged.

"The Doodle"
Jerry contracts fleas and has to evacuate his apartment; George is put off by a sketch done of him by his new girlfriend (Christa Miller, Scrubs); Elaine puts a potential job in jeopardy when she misplaces a FedEx package.

"The Fusilli Jerry"
Elaine is shocked to learn that her new mechanic boyfriend (Patrick Warburton, Big Trouble, in his first appearance on the show) is using one of Jerry's sex moves; Kramer receives the wrong license plates; George's mother undergoes cosmetic surgery. The episode that gives us both David Puddy and The Assman.

"The Diplomat's Club"
After an innocent comment offends a co-worker, George goes out of his way to prove that he's not a racist; Mr. Pitt's attorney believes that Elaine is out to kill him off after it's announced that she's in his will; Jerry is saddled with a difficult manager (Debra Jo Rupp, That '70s Show) during an out of town comedy show.

"The Face Painter"
George debates whether or not to tell his girlfriend that he loves her; Jerry scores hockey tickets from a pretentious acquaintance (former host of Studs Mark DeCarlo), but fails to properly thank him; Kramer begins a feud with a monkey; Elaine learns that Puddy is a "face painter."

"The Understudy"
Jerry and George play in a softball game against Bette Midler's team and are blamed when she gets injured; Elaine enlists the aid of Frank Costanza to learn the truth about what her Korean manicurists are saying about her; Elaine gets a new job. The episode that introduces us to J. Peterman (John O'Hurley, Buying the Cow).

The Evidence

Elaine: I will never understand people.
Jerry: They're the worst.

That short dialogue exchange, from episode 6.22, "The Diplomat's Club," is a perfect example of what makes Seinfeld so great: its total disdain for everyone and everything, especially its four hopeless central characters. These are people we love to be around and who couldn't want to be around us less.

It's difficult to find anything new to say about Seinfeld. Everyone knows it. Everyone quotes it (which reminds me -- the next person that thinks it's hilarious to say "No soup for you!" is going to find him or herself on the business end of a window-throwing). It's a show that's grown far beyond the art form, exploding from the confines of the television set and becoming a cultural phenomenon. Well, I don't review cultural phenomena. I can't, other than to say "it deserves to be" or "it doesn't deserve to be." That leaves me to review the show on its merits, which, lucky for me, are considerable.

In that respect, allow me to say that Seinfeld is one of the five finest and funniest comedies ever produced by the medium (and one of the ten best shows of all time) -- it rewrote the rules for the sitcom and changed the TV landscape for years to come. The self-described "show about nothing" isn't actually about nothing at all; that is, it's about Something. It's about the minutiae of the day to day -- the little things we all dwell on and obsess over. It's what make the show so damned relatable; while we couldn't necessarily ever connect to the on-again, off-again romantic exploits of Friends's Ross and Rachel, we all know what it's like to be grossed out by the hygiene of someone we're dating (the toothbrush-share), or to be embarrassed about your own habits (watching Melrose Place), or to get caught in a lie (just about any plot involving George Costanza). It's Us we're watching -- occasionally awful, cartoonish versions of Us -- but Us nonetheless.

Season Six is where we begin to see indicators of the dark, dark places that the series would go to over the course of its last three seasons (the very next year, George's fiancée, Susan, would be killed off by envelope glue in what might be the show's finest moment). Consider another moment in the otherwise lackluster "Diplomat's Club" (I say lackluster despite the fact that I've now made two significant references to it): Jerry and Elaine are sitting at the funeral of their friend Gary Fogel -- otherwise known as the man who lied about his cancer to get a toupee (and was killed in a car wreck while straightening it). The atmosphere is somber. Women are sobbing around them. Elaine can't stop talking about how she's not happy with her clothes. Women continue to sob. Elaine and Jerry keep talking about her clothes. Their total self-absorption and lack of sensitivity is the masterstroke of the series (and its co-creator, television's greatest and grouchiest misanthrope, Larry David): finding comedy in the darkest, coldest, meanest parts of human nature.

Seinfeld is the rare show that got better the longer it lasted. Though it would eventually become a bit too focused on the puzzle-box plot structure, the series still avoided the mid-run peaks (and subsequent valleys) that plagued The Simpsons or Friends -- this one continued to top itself. Season Six finds the show in full stride: this is the season that first introduces us to Seinfeld mainstays Tim Whatley, Kenny Bania, David Puddy (the show's most inspired comic creation since Jerry Stiller's Frank Costanza), and J. Peterman. Where we learn that Kramer's first name is "Cosmo." Where George gets a toupee. Where Elaine works for and is tortured by her stuffy and eccentric British boss, Mr. Pitt. And, while not every episode is a winner, consider that it contains classics like "The Couch" and "The Soup" and "The Label Maker" and "The Fusilli Jerry."

I believe there's a reason that the gifted character actors on the show (Richards, Alexander, and Louis-Dreyfus) haven't really found success outside of Seinfeld: their performances on the series are so good, and they inhabit their characters so completely, that any traces of "acting" vanish. They are these characters, and it becomes impossible to see them any other way. Now, you can call me crazy, but I think Jerry Seinfeld is the funniest of the four actors that make up the core of the series -- he's the best bad actor on television. What's better is that his performance is actually about bad acting; watch any moment that demands heightened emotion from him, watch his eyes bug and his voice get all high-pitched and whiny (even more so than usual, that is), and you'll basically see him throw up his hands and give up. It's as though he recognizes that even trying would be a waste of time, and approaches the role accordingly. It's a move that pays off; Seinfeld is able to carve himself a spot among situation comedy's most gifted ensemble, where he might have otherwise been caught up playing the straight man.

Sony's release of Seinfeld: Season Six is every bit as good as their previous Seinfeld sets, which, along with Fox's Simpsons DVD sets, are (disc for disc, show for show, extra for extra) possibly the best TV boxes in current release; that these sets were delayed as long as they were is now well worth it. The shows are presented in their original, full frame television format and have been spiffed up and restored to a healthy shine -- it's the best Seinfeld has looked. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track, while not exactly speaker-shattering, is absolutely appropriate for this series; I even like the way that the laugh track fills in the rear and side channels, helping to recreate the "studio audience" experience.

So, the shows look and sound great. That's nothing new -- this is the sixth set of Seinfeld DVDs, and, in that regard, they're not much different from the previous five. How about the extras, then? Well, those aren't much different from the earlier sets either, but, then, when they've been as consistently spectacular as these supplements have been, why change it? Something about "if it ain't broke"...

My favorite of the extra features are the short "Inside Look" featurettes that accompany most of the episodes. They're just retrospective pieces, with writers and cast members and directors and guest stars recounting the experience of shooting the episode and the stories that inspired them (most of the ideas for shows came from the real-life experiences of the people working on them), but they pack in more content and face time than the audio commentaries. Maybe that's because the segments don't have to wait for the participants to stop laughing (Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the biggest culprit) or contain as much dead space as the commentaries, which are often reduced to the speakers sitting back and watching the episode. When they do speak up, it can be a joy and, more often than not, worth the wait.

The only extra feature that's really new to Season Six is something called "Sein-Imation," which is nothing more than scenes from the show reenacted by crudely pencil-drawn stick figures. It's a cute conceit, I suppose, but nothing more. Otherwise, we get the usual text commentaries, deleted scenes, bonus standup material, and bloopers (watching truly funny people make each other laugh is a lot more enjoyable than watching regular people). If I'm being casual about listing all that off, it's only because I'm used to it now -- that shouldn't take away from the volume and quality of bonus content. Put another way, there's lots of it and it's all great.

Closing Statement

Seinfeld is one of the funniest shows ever to air on television. Season Six is one of the best seasons of one of the funniest shows ever to air on television. The Seinfeld DVD releases are some of the best TV-on-DVD box sets available. The release of Seinfeld: Season Six is a great DVD collection of one of the best seasons of one of the funniest shows ever to air on television.

I'm done.

The Verdict

Not guilty. Get out!!

I don't know how to write out those goofy bass notes, but this is where they'd go.

Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Bromley; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 94
Audio: 87
Extras: 100
Acting: 94
Story: 95
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile
Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

Subtitles:
* English
* French
* Portuguese
* Spanish

Running Time: 551 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Running With the Egg: Making a Seinfeld
* Yada, Yada, Yada (Audio Commentaries)
* Notes About Nothing (Text Commentaries)
* Not That There's Anything Wrong With That (Outtakes and Bloopers)
* In the Vault (Deleted Scenes)
* Master of His Domain (Bonus Jerry Seinfeld Stand-Up)
* Sein-Imation (Animated Seinfeld Scenes)
* Inside Looks

Accomplices
* Official Site
http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/seinfeld/tvindex.html

* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0098904/combined

* DVD Verdict Seasons One And Two Review
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/seinfeldseasons1and2.php

* DVD Verdict Season Three Review
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/seinfeldseason3.php

* DVD Verdict Season Four Review
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/seinfeldseason4.php

* DVD Verdict Season Five Review
http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/seinfeldseason5.php