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

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

The protocol actually says that most Tersies will say this has to be a dream.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)
(SPOILERS) The Wachowski siblings’ wildly patchy career continues apace. They bespoiled a great thing with The Matrix sequels (I liked the first, not the second), misfired with Speed Racer (bubble-gum visuals aside, hijinks and comedy ain’t their forte) and recently delivered the Marmite Sense8 for Netflix (I was somewhere in between on it). Their only slam-dunk since The Matrix put them on the movie map is Cloud Atlas, and even that’s a case of rising above its limitations (mostly prosthetic-based). Jupiter Ascending, their latest cinema outing and first stab at space opera, elevates their lesser works by default, however. It manages to be tone deaf in all the areas that count, and sadly fetches up at the bottom of their filmography pile.

This is a case where the roundly damning verdicts have sadly been largely on the ball. What’s most baffling about the picture is that, after a reasonably engaging set-up, it determinedly bores the pants off you. I haven’t enco…

James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.

Moonraker (1979)
Depending upon your disposition, and quite possibly age, Moonraker is either the Bond film that finally jumped the shark or the one that is most gloriously redolent of Roger Moore’s knowing take on the character. Many Bond aficionados will no doubt utter its name with thinly disguised contempt, just as they will extol with gravity how Timothy Dalton represented a masterful return to the core values of the series. If you regard For Your Eyes Only as a refreshing return to basics after the excesses of the previous two entries, and particularly the space opera grandstanding of this one, it’s probably fair to say you don’t much like Roger Moore’s take on Bond.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

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.

My dear, sweet brother Numsie!

The Golden Child (1986)
Post-Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy could have filmed himself washing the dishes and it would have been a huge hit. Which might not have been a bad idea, since he chose to make this misconceived stinker.

When I barked, I was enormous.

Dean Spanley (2008)
(SPOILERS) There is such a profusion of average, respectable – but immaculately made – British period drama held up for instant adulation, it’s hardly surprising that, when something truly worthy of acclaim comes along, it should be singularly ignored. To be fair, Dean Spanleywas well liked by critics upon its release, but its subsequent impact has proved disappointingly slight. Based on Lord Dunsany’s 1939 novella, My Talks with Dean Spanley, our narrator relates how the titular Dean’s imbibification of a moderate quantity of Imperial Tokay (“too syrupy”, is the conclusion reached by both members of the Fisk family regarding this Hungarian wine) precludes his recollection of a past life as a dog. 

Inevitably, reviews pounced on the chance to reference Dean Spanley as a literal shaggy dog story, so I shall get that out of the way now. While the phrase is more than fitting, it serves to underrepresent how affecting the picture is when it has cause to be, as does any re…