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Case Number 08606

Buy Seinfeld: Season Five at Amazon

Seinfeld: Season Five

Sony // 1993 // 489 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Jennifer Malkowski (Retired) // February 15th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Jennifer Malkowski co-founded a Seinfeld club in her high school. Yes, she's a media geek...not that there's anything wrong with that!

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Seinfeld: Seasons One And Two (published May 18th, 2005), Seinfeld: Season Three (published June 8th, 2005), Seinfeld: Season Four (published August 22nd, 2005), Seinfeld: Season Six (published February 15th, 2006), Seinfeld: Season Seven (published November 13th, 2006), Seinfeld: Season Eight (published May 30th, 2007), and Seinfeld: The Complete Series (published November 6th, 2007) are also available.

The Charge

"Larry and I had started with this idea of making a comedy that really sounded and felt like real life…not only couldn't we keep to that because it was too difficult, but I think it was restricting us comedically."—Jerry Seinfeld

Opening Statement

This is the season of Seinfeld that, more than any other, marks the transition between the conversational, minutia-oriented, writerly humor of the show's early period and the less probable, more physical comedy of the later episodes. It was a time when the series stopped being "about nothing"—though it still included plenty of "nothing" moments—and really embraced its zanier side. Thanks to the talent of the cast, Larry David, and the many other creative forces behind the scenes, the transition was smooth. More importantly, almost every moment of it was funny.

Facts of the Case

As I think we all know, this is the hit '90s sitcom which examines mishaps and minutia in the lives of four New Yorkers: Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld), George Costanza (Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards). Let's start with a breakdown of the season's 22 episodes:

Disc One

• "The Mango"
Jerry finds out that Elaine faked her orgasms during their relationship and becomes obsessed with proving his sexual prowess to her while George gets suspicious of his girlfriend Karen's orgasms. Kramer gets banned from a local fruit stand.
Highlights: As Jerry rattles off a list of indicators that Elaine had orgasms, Elaine shoots each down with a wonderfully delivered, "Fake. Fake. Fake. Fake."
Grade: B+

• "The Glasses"
George loses his glasses at the gym and accidentally selects "Ladies' Frames" for his new pair. Kramer tries to get George a discount. Elaine gets bit by a dog.
Highlights: Kramer's buddy owes him a favor for when Kramer "got him off sugar," Elaine's rabies paranoia
Grade: B+

• "The Puffy Shirt"
Kramer's girlfriend, "the low talker," has designed a "puffy shirt" that Jerry mistakenly agrees to wear on The Today Show. George moves back in with his parents and becomes a hand model.
Highlights: Of course, Jerry's plea, "But I don't wanna be a pirate!"
Grade: A-

• "The Sniffing Accountant"
Jerry becomes suspicious that his accountant is a drug addict which Kramer helps him investigate. George becomes a bra salesman. Elaine breaks up with someone over punctuation.
Highlights: Kramer chugs a whole beer while simultaneously smoking a cigarette; one of the phrases most quoted by the cast and crew, "Barring some unforeseen incident…"
Grade: B

• "The Bris"
Elaine and Jerry are asked to be godparents to a friend's newborn and they also must take part in the bris. George's car is damaged when a suicidal jumper lands on it. Kramer thinks he sees a mutant "pig-man" in the hospital.
Highlights: The shot-for-shot match of the last scene of The Godfather
Grade: B-

Disc Two

• "The Lip Reader"
Kramer becomes a ball man for professional tennis. Jerry dates a deaf woman whom he convinces to lip read at a party for George. Elaine pretends to be deaf to avoid talking to her chatty driver.
Highlights: As the gang debates custody of social locations post-break-up, Elaine puts the issue to rest by reminding George that as the one dumped, "He's the loser."
Grade: B

• "The Non-Fat Yogurt"
The gang is getting fat from "non-fat yogurt" which they then get tested at a lab. Elaine makes a ridiculous suggestion to a mayoral advisor. George fakes an injury to cover a social faux pas with his rival Lloyd Braun. Jerry is accused of being a bad influence on a friend's son.
Highlights: Kramer's repeated deadpan references to Jerry as "fatso"
Grade: B

• "The Barber"
Jerry cheats on his barber with another stylist, which Newman exposes. George doesn't know whether he has been hired after a job interview, so he just starts going in to work. Kramer participates in a charity bachelor auction Elaine is helping organize.
Highlights: Elaine trying to "sell" Kramer on the runway
Grade: C+

• "The Masseuse"
Jerry dates a masseuse and is offended that she won't give him a massage, so he bans Kramer from getting them. George becomes obsessed with the fact that Jerry's girlfriend doesn't like him. Elaine's boyfriend has the same name as an infamous serial killer.
Highlights: George wants to create a window to his "non-date personality," to which Elaine responds, "I've looked through that window and screamed at him to shut the blinds"
Grade: B

• "The Cigar Store Indian"
Jerry wants to date a Native American friend of Elaine's, but keeps accidentally making vaguely un-PC racial comments. George convinces a date that his parents' house is actually his. Elaine mistakenly takes Frank Costanza's collectible copy of TV Guide.
Highlights: George trying to pass of his parents' house as a bachelor pad
Grade: B

Disc Three

• "The Conversion"
George converts to Lithuanian Orthodox for a woman while Kramer has a nun fall in love with him. Jerry worries that his girlfriend has foot fungus and gets help from Elaine, who is dating a podiatrist.
Highlights: George's girlfriend breaks up with him and then orders lobster
Grade: B-

• "The Stall"
Elaine dates Tony "the mimbo," on whom George has a "non-sexual crush." Jerry's girlfriend "can't spare a square" for Elaine in the bathroom. Kramer gets addicted to phone sex.
Highlights: George obsessively makes sandwiches for his pal Tony; Elaine says George shouldn't go rock climbing because he "needs a boost to climb into bed"; Kramer and Jerry's exchange about whether Jerry's girlfriend could be the phone sex lady: "That's impossible!" "Is it?!? Or is it so possible…"
Grade: A

• "The Marine Biologist"
George pretends to be a marine biologist to impress an old classmate. Elaine has misadventures with a new electronic organizer. Kramer golfs on the beach. Jerry laments the passing of his favorite T-shirt, "Golden Boy."
Highlights: One of the all-time best reveals of the series at the end of George's epic narration of saving the whale; Kramer's spirited description of the joys of golfing on the beach
Grade: A

• "The Dinner Party"
On the way to a dinner party, Jerry and Elaine try to buy a chocolate babka while George and Kramer are blocked in by a double-parker when trying to get a bottle of wine.
Highlights: The black-and-white cookie as a symbol of racial harmony; Jerry's pride about his no-vomiting streak
Grade: A-

• "The Pie"
Kramer discovers a mannequin that looks just like Elaine. George stakes out a fancy suit that another short, stocky, bald man is also trying to buy. Jerry is unsettled by his girlfriend's refusal to try a bite of his apple pie.
Highlights: George watches a saleswoman undress the Elaine mannequin
Grade: B+

• "The Stand-In"
Kramer's little-person buddy, Mickey, takes a risk by wearing lifts as a TV show stand-in. George stays with a woman he doesn't like just because a mutual friend warns her about dating George. Jerry feels pressured to make a friend in the hospital laugh. Elaine gets a major shock when a date takes "it" out during conversation.
Highlights: Kramer's suggestion that "it" just needed some air
Grade: B

Disc Four

• "The Wife"
Jerry pretends he is married to his girlfriend to get her a discount on dry cleaning. Elaine tries to determine whether a gym buddy is interested in her, but the man is thinking about reporting George to the staff for peeing in the locker room shower. Kramer frets about sleeping without his quilt, which is taking too long at the dry cleaner.
Highlights: Jerry "wasn't ready for the responsibilities of a pretend marriage"
Grade: B+

• "The Fire"
George embarrasses himself when he flees in terror from a small kitchen fire at a girlfriend's kid's birthday party. Kramer's coffee-table book idea gets picked up by Pendant Publishing, but Elaine is very annoyed by the editor working with him. That editor also screws up an important show for Jerry by heckling him.
Highlights: Elaine's The Price is Right dance
Grade: B+

• "The Raincoats, Parts 1 and 2"
Jerry's parents are visiting, thus preventing Jerry from having sex with his girlfriend. George tries to weasel out of being in the Big Brother program. Kramer and Morty Seinfeld scheme to sell Morty's stash of old raincoats together. Elaine dates a "close talker" who really likes hanging out with Jerry's parents. Morty and Helen avoid socializing with Frank and Estelle Costanza.
Highlights: George's bizarre idea that baldness will catch on "when the aliens" come, because the bald guys will be the ones the aliens relate to; Helen Seinfeld greets Newman; all the well-written Schindler's List references.
Grade: B+

• "The Hamptons"
The gang heads for the Hamptons for a weekend getaway. Jerry's girlfriend sees George naked while he is suffering from "shrinkage." Meanwhile, Jerry, Elaine, and Kramer see George's girlfriend naked before he does. Kramer steals lobsters at the beach. Elaine is puzzled when a hunky doctor describes both her and an ugly baby as "breathtaking."
Highlights: Kramer's endearing sense of his duty to keep Jerry's kosher girlfriend from trying lobster
Grade: A-

• "The Opposite"
George is down in the dumps while Elaine is riding high on a promotion and a great boyfriend. Jerry realizes that he is "even Steven." George decides to turn things around by doing "the opposite" of his every instinct, while Elaine's life crumbles due to her love for Jujyfruits.
Highlights: Almost every scene; the moment when Elaine becomes George; Jerry's theory that "the big advantage of homosexuality is that if you're going out with someone your size, right there you double your wardrobe" (I can tell you, he's right about that one!)
Grade: A+

The Evidence

Season Five of Seinfeld treated us to some classic episodes, moments, and terms. We saw "The Puffy Shirt," "The Stall," "The Marine Biologist," "The Hamptons," and "The Opposite." We found out that Elaine faked orgasms with Jerry, that Jerry maintains a long and proud streak of not vomiting, that Kramer has a fond relationship with the beach, and that every instinct George has ever had in his life has been wrong. We are also introduced to The Low Talker, The Close Talker, The Mimbo, and "shrinkage." The show featured some well-known guest stars, though some of them were not less known at the time: Courtney Cox, French Stewart, Bryant Gumbel, Regis Philbin, Kathie Lee Gifford, Rudolph Giuliani, Carol Kane, Judge Reinhold, and Jon Favreau. This was also the beginning of one of the more memorable season-spanning storylines: George working for the Yankees. That long occupational odyssey all began when he did "the opposite" at a job interview there, admitting to his horrendous employment record and revealing his debilitating social neuroses.

As with previous seasons, Season Five of Seinfeld gets top-notch DVD treatment. The episodes are all remastered and they look and sound great. The extras are extensive and have high production values. Between the commentaries (on ten episodes), the "inside looks" (for 15 episodes), the deleted scenes (for 11 episodes), the bloopers (one collection) and the "Notes About Nothing" (for all 22 episodes), most episodes get extensively examined on several different levels. The commentaries are the weakest of these episode-specific extras. The tracks feature some high-profile people (including Alexander, Louis-Dreyfus, and Richards on a couple and the Seinfeld/David team doing one for "The Opposite"), but those people often just sit back and watch, actively commenting for only about half the episode. The tracks done by the writers are slightly better. The "Inside Looks" are nice little mini-featurettes with background information on the production of individual episodes which range from about two to ten minutes. In the one on "The Puffy Shirt," you even get to see Seinfeld speaking at a ceremony to accept the "puffy shirt" costume into the Smithsonian! My favorite extras on the set are the "Notes About Nothing," which basically apply the old Pop-Up Video format to these episodes, flashing background information and tangential facts along the bottom of the screen almost constantly when activated. These tidbits cover a huge variety of topics—detailed scientific facts about concepts the gang refer to, exact phrasings and deleted lines from the original scripts, notes about where and how scenes were filmed, celebrities' favorite episodes, and a number of "counters" that keep track of each character's significant others, the number of times "Hello, Newman" is uttered, and the number of entrances Kramer makes into Jerry's apartment. By far the most useful function of the "Notes" is as an IMDb substitute. Whenever I found myself wondering, "now what other shows have I seen her on?," the "Notes" would immediately clue me in. Other non-episode-specific extras include a featurette on the creation of George's character, a collection of the fifth season's TV spots and promotions, and some of Seinfeld's stand-up routines that never made the show.

Closing Statement

I've always been a fan of the later, goofier episodes of Seinfeld and Season Five is where the first of this breed appeared. The episodes are great and their presentation on this set is as fantastic as the seasons that came before.

The Verdict

Judge Jennifer Malkowski rules that Seinfeld: Season Five is a must-buy for every TV buff with even a smidgen of disposable income. Pop one of these discs in and "Giddyup!"

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 95
Acting: 95
Story: 90
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• English
• French
• Portuguese
• Spanish
Running Time: 489 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• "Jason + Larry = George"
• "Notes About Nothing" for all 22 episodes
• "Inside Looks" for all 22 episodes
• "In the Vault" (deleted scenes)
• "Not That There's Anything Wrong With That" (bloopers)
• "Yada, Yada, Yada" (commentaries)
• "Master of His Domain" (Seinfeld's stand-up)
• "Sponsored By Vandalay Industries" (promos and trailers)

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