Skip to main content

A new kind of technique for televising opera.


Seinfeld
1.5: The Stock Tip

The Premise

George persuades Jerry to go in with him on a stock investment. The price then proceeds to plummet.

Observational

If the hook isn’t the most inspired that Seinfeld and David would come up with, thematically it is of-a-piece. Jerry is persuaded into an action by one of his friends against his better judgement and spends the rest of the episode regretting it. This is a rarity in that George emerges triumphant. We discover that George finally made money through selling unlikely inventions when he returns in Curb Your Enthusiasm (the iToilet app) and the two writers clearly have fun with the choice of investment; Zantrax, “A new kind of technique for televising opera”. It’s the episode’s parting shot investment that takes the prize, however.

I’m generally critical of the stand-up elements, but this is a rare case where Jerry’s routine is superior to the corresponding sequence in the storyline.  The miniscule appearance of Jerry’s shrunk shirt is appropriately OTT, but the drycleaner riffing is far better expressed on stage.

The opening scene in the diner is full of the kind of random quirkiness that the series is renowned for. This is the first time Jerry indulges his Superman obsession, while Lousie-Dreyfus flits from distracted (“I dropped a grape”) to goofy (her spoon-balancing act) to nonplussed (her response to Jerry’s “pip of steel” joke) with inspired energy and abandon. I’m not going to keep a boyfriend/girlfriend count of the main characters, as it’s been done repeatedly elsewhere, but this one is a cat owner and she’s suffering from allergies (the pay-off is that he chooses his cats over her).

Everyone is well catered for, though. Kramer’s undisguised delight in Jerry’s stock tribulations is only matched by Jerry’s wry amusement at his amusement. And Cosmo’s harebrained schemes resurface; here he has an idea for a rollout tie dispenser. 

George is at his most conceited and mercurial. When it looks as if he's going to lose his money, his desperation sees him try to visit his sick tipster in hospital before resigning himself to the situation. But, when he makes a mint, he’s waving a cigar around and regaling his friends with how he knew it all along. Then, when the bill comes, he reconsiders his initially generous tip; his Cloud Nine experience can only last for so long before his neurotic, selfish impulses invade upon it.

The other aspect, almost forming a B-plot but not quite, is the demise of Jerry’s relationship with the previously seen Vanessa. Seeing Seinfeld rematched with a girlfriend is something of a rarity, but their dissolution is succinctly sketched out. Thinking they are moving on to “Phase Two”, it becomes clear that, rain bound in a Vermont hotel, they have nothing to say to each other. As with The Stakeout, the device of Jerry’s internal monologue is used effectively to counterpoint the conversation.

Quotable

Jerry: I think Superman probably has a very good sense of humour.
George: I never heard him say anything really funny.

Kramer suggests he may have “some people I met at a rock concert” to stay in Jerry’s apartment while he is away:
Kramer: Mind if they use your bed?

Jerry (stand-up routine): You see, the problem with drycleaners is that we actually believe this is possible.

Having spied an attractive woman on the street, looking through Jerry’s window with a pair of binoculars:
Kramer: I’m going down there to try and talk to her.

Jerry asks Vanessa what kind of perfume she is wearing:
Vanessa: I can’t tell you.
Jerry (Internal monologue): Yeah, that’s really normal.

George: They’re about to introduce some sort of a, robot butcher.
Jerry: A robot butcher?

Verdict:




Season One Ranking

Overall:


The characters and the chemistry are there, but the scripts aren’t yet singing. Even at such an early stage, though, Seinfeld delivers consistent laughs.

1. The Robbery
2.  The Stakeout
3. The Stock Tip
4. Male Unbonding
5. The Seinfeld Chronicles

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

Just make love to that wall, pervert!

Seinfeld 2.10: The Statue
The Premise
Jerry employs a cleaner, the boyfriend of an author whose book Elaine is editing. He leaves the apartment spotless, but Jerry is convinced he has made off with a statue.

I think my mother put a curse on us.

Hereditary (2018)
(SPOILERS) Well, the Hereditary trailer's a very fine trailer, there's no doubt about that. The movie as a whole? Ari Aster's debut follows in the line of a number of recent lauded-to-the-heavens (or hells) horror movies that haven't quite lived up to their hype (The Babadook, for example). In Hereditary's case, there’s no doubting Ari Aster's talent as a director. Instead, I'd question his aptitude for horror.

Never compare me to the mayor in Jaws! Never!

Ghostbusters (2016)
(SPOILERS) Paul Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped make his Ghostbusters remake (or reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not even being that great a movie in the first place.

Along which lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem, but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant improv sessions.

So there’s nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters, but aside from …

There’s still one man out here some place.

Sole Survivor (1970)
(SPOILERS) I’m one for whom Sole Survivor remained a half-remembered, muddled dream of ‘70s television viewing. I see (from this site) the BBC showed it both in 1979 and 1981 but, like many it seems, in my veiled memory it was a black and white picture, probably made in the 1950s and probably turning up on a Saturday afternoon on BBC2. Since no other picture readily fits that bill, and my movie apparition shares the salient plot points, I’ve had to conclude Sole Survivor is indeed the hitherto nameless picture; a TV movie first broadcast by the ABC network in 1970 (a more famous ABC Movie of the Week was Spielberg’s Duel). Survivor may turn out to be no more than a classic of the mind, but it’s nevertheless an effective little piece, one that could quite happily function on the stage and which features several strong performances and a signature last scene that accounts for its haunting reputation.

Directed by TV guy Paul Stanley and written by Guerdon Trueblood (The…

I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my "back pain", Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine... Well, because it's awesome.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Along with Pain & Gain and The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street might be viewed as the completion of a loose 2013 trilogy on the subject of success and excess; the American Dream gone awry. It’s the superior picture to its fellows, by turns enthralling, absurd, outrageous and hilarious. This is the fieriest, most deliriously vibrant picture from the director since the millennium turned. Nevertheless, stood in the company of Goodfellas, the Martin Scorsese film from which The Wolf of Wall Street consciously takes many of its cues, it is found wanting.

I was vaguely familiar with the title, not because I knew much about Jordan Belfort but because the script had been in development for such a long time (Ridley Scott was attached at one time). So part of the pleasure of the film is discovering how widely the story diverges from the Wall Street template. “The Wolf of Wall Street” suggests one who towers over the city like a behemoth, rather than a guy …

My name is Dr. King Schultz, this is my valet, Django, and these are our horses, Fritz, and Tony.

What you do is very baller. You're very anarchist.

Lady Bird (2017)
(SPOILERS) You can see the Noah Baumbach influence on Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, with whom she collaborated on Frances Ha; an intimate, lo-fi, post-Woody Allen (as in, post-feted, respected Woody Allen) dramedy canvas that has traditionally been the New Yorker’s milieu. But as an adopted, spiritual New Yorker, I suspect Gerwig honourably qualifies, even as Lady Bird is a love letter/ nostalgia trip to her home city of Sacramento.