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

Popular posts from this blog

You were this amazing occidental samurai.

Ricochet (1991) (SPOILERS) You have to wonder at Denzel Washington’s agent at this point in the actor’s career. He’d recently won his first Oscar for Glory , yet followed it with less-than-glorious heart-transplant ghost comedy Heart Condition (Bob Hoskins’ racist cop receives Washington’s dead lawyer’s ticker; a recipe for hijinks!) Not long after, he dipped his tentative toe in the action arena with this Joel Silver production; Denzel has made his share of action fare since, of course, most of it serviceable if unremarkable, but none of it comes near to delivering the schlocky excesses of Ricochet , a movie at once ingenious and risible in its plot permutations, performances and production profligacy.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Well, something’s broke on your daddy’s spaceship.

Apollo 13 (1995) (SPOILERS) The NASA propaganda movie to end all NASA propaganda movies. Their original conception of the perilous Apollo 13 mission deserves due credit in itself; what better way to bolster waning interest in slightly naff perambulations around a TV studio than to manufacture a crisis event, one emphasising the absurd fragility of the alleged non-terrestrial excursions and the indomitable force that is “science” in achieving them? Apollo 13 the lunar mission was tailor made for Apollo 13 the movie version – make believe the make-believe – and who could have been better to lead this fantasy ride than Guantanamo Hanks at his all-American popularity peak?

I can’t be the worst. What about that hotdog one?

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) (SPOILERS) It would have been a merciful release, had the title card “ The End ”, flashing on screen a little before the ninety-minute mark, not been a false dawn. True, I would still have been unable to swab the bloody dildoes fight from my mind, but at least Everything Everywhere All at Once would have been short. Indeed, by the actual end I was put in mind of a line spoken by co-star James Wong in one of his most indelible roles: “ Now this really pisses me off to no end ”. Or to put it another way, Everything Everywhere All at Once rubbed me up the wrong which way quite a lot of most of the time.

We’ve got the best ball and chain in the world. Your ass.

Wedlock (1991) (SPOILERS) The futuristic prison movie seemed possessed of a particular cachet around this time, quite possibly sparked by the grisly possibilities of hi-tech disincentives to escape. On that front, HBO TV movie Wedlock more than delivers its FX money shot. Elsewhere, it’s less sure of itself, rather fumbling when it exchanges prison tropes for fugitives-on-the-run ones.

Drank the red. Good for you.

Morbius (2022) (SPOILERS) Generic isn’t necessarily a slur. Not if, by implication, it’s suggestive of the kind of movie made twenty years ago, when the alternative is the kind of super-woke content Disney currently prioritises. Unfortunately, after a reasonable first hour, Morbius descends so resignedly into such unmoderated formula that you’re left with a too-clear image of Sony’s Spider-Verse when it lacks a larger-than-life performer (Tom Hardy, for example) at the centre of any given vehicle.

So, you’re telling me that NASA is going to kill the President of the United States with an earthquake?

Conspiracy Theory (1997) (SPOILERS) Mel Gibson’s official rehabilitation occurred with the announcement of 2016’s Oscar nominations, when Hacksaw Ridge garnered six nods, including Mel as director. Obviously, many refuse to be persuaded that there’s any legitimate atonement for the things someone says. They probably weren’t even convinced by Mel’s appearance in Daddy’s Home 2 , an act of abject obeisance if ever there was one. In other circles, though, Gibbo, or Mad Mel, is venerated as a saviour unsullied by the depraved Hollywood machine, one of the brave few who would not allow them to take his freedom. Or at least, his values. Of course, that’s frequently based on alleged comments he made, ones it’s highly likely he didn’t. But doesn’t that rather appeal to the premise of his 23-year-old star vehicle Conspiracy Theory , in which “ A good conspiracy theory is an unproveable one ”?

He’ll regret it to his dying day, if ever he lives that long.

The Quiet Man (1952) (SPOILERS) The John Wayne & John Ford film for those who don’t like John Wayne & John Ford films? The Quiet Man takes its cues from Ford’s earlier How Green Was My Valley in terms of, well less Anglophile and Hibernophile and Cambrophile nostalgia respectively for past times, climes and heritage, as Wayne’s pugilist returns to his family seat and stirs up a hot bed of emotions, not least with Maureen O’Hara’s red-headed hothead. The result is a very likeable movie, for all its inculcated Oirishness and studied eccentricity.

He doesn’t want to lead you. He just wants you to follow.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) (SPOILERS) The general failing of the prequel concept is a fairly self-evident one; it’s spurred by the desire to cash in, rather than to tell a story. This is why so few prequels, in any form, are worth the viewer/reader/listener’s time, in and of themselves. At best, they tend to be something of a well-rehearsed fait accompli. In the movie medium, even when there is material that withstands closer inspection (the Star Wars prequels; The Hobbit , if you like), the execution ends up botched. With Fantastic Beasts , there was never a whiff of such lofty purpose, and each subsequent sequel to the first prequel has succeeded only in drawing attention to its prosaic function: keeping franchise flag flying, even at half-mast. Hence Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore , belatedly arriving after twice the envisaged gap between instalments and course-correcting none of the problems present in The Crimes of Grindelwald .

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991) (SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.