Skip to main content

Boy, I hate the idea of somebody out there returning my calls.


Seinfeld
1.4: The Robbery

The Premise

Spurred on by the robbery of his apartment, Jerry looks for another place to live. But George wants the same place. Elaine wants Jerry’s place, or George’s place. Anywhere is better than hers.

Observational

This episode is probably the best of a micro first season. Whilst there is only one plot thread again, each of Jerry, George and Elaine have a vested interest in it. And Kramer is the instigator of events, so it’s a fairly even hand. There’s also no closing stand-up, which makes the closing scene is more memorable.

The star character turn this time is George, and Alexander relishes the chance to play up Costanza’s neurotic selfishness. Having found a prospective apartment for Jerry, he instantly decides he wants it for himself and becomes a whiny baby over it while professing he doesn’t want it if Jerry does. This culminates in a coin flipping (Jerry: You didn’t call, “No interference”!) and then a paper/scissors/stone game as decider. A few seasons down the line, and I doubt that George would have got to the point where neither he nor Jerry took it but gave it to someone else; he would have finagled it so that it was his in the end (and then something terribly wrong with it would have been revealed). George is definitely evolving at this point; the most remarkable thing about him is that he seems a perfectly competent estate agent.

Jerry’s anal side is to the fore as he instructs Elaine on his house rules while he is away (“No soft cheeses of any kind!”), as is his winningly blasé attitude to authority figures (he cracks wise to the policeman taking notes on the robbery). We also get to see his response to crises; he’s pissed at Kramer for leaving the door open (thus allowing the thieves access to the apartment) but he’s also stoic and not fixated (he’s a glass half full kind of guy).

We find out that Elaine has an annoying roommate who “starts rehearsing tonight on Carousel”, but more than her frustration over this, her most identifiable trait this episode is an unabashed mercenary attitude to whichever apartment she can grab. Her haggling with Jerry over his couch is amusing too (she gets a lower price but ends the episode couch-less).

Some good material for Kramer, with Richards making his first slide entrance and displaying an endearing lack of awareness and diligence (he intended to leave Jerry’s apartment for only a few seconds, but got distracted by a TV soap). His arbitrary fixations, requiring little logic or proof, come into play too, as he decides that their English neighbour is responsible for the theft. Jerry’s good natured put-downs of Cosmo’s quirkiness are quickly becoming a highlight.

The ending is a well drawn together too; a sign of things to come. With the trio of Elaine, George and Jerry all losing out, they sit on a couch at the housewarming of the couple who did take the apartment, commiserating. As per the misanthropic theme of the series, they cannot muster the goodwill to be genuinely happy for them so they lie.

Quotable

Kramer: I got caught up watching a soap opera – The Bold and the Beautiful.

Kramer: I made a mistake.
Elaine: These things happen.
Kramer: I’m human.
Jerry: In your way.

Talking to the police officer about his stolen answering machine:
Jerry: Boy, I hate the idea of somebody out there returning my calls.
Officer: What do you mean?
Jerry: It’s a joke.
Officer: I see.

Discussing the Englishman who lives down the hall:
Kramer: The last couple of days he’s been acting very strange. I think he’s avoiding me.
Jerry: Hard to imagine.

Kramer’s attempt to ensnare the Englishman:
Kramer: I said, “Oh, by the way, I know about the stuff”.
Elaine: What did he say?
Kramer: “What stuff?”

And the completely insincere congratulations at the housewarming:
George: We’re really glad for you.
Elaine: Couldn’t be happier.
Jerry: It’s wonderful.

Verdict:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

He’s probably paranoid, high-strung, doesn’t like daylight. You know, has a lot of crumbs in his beard, if he has a beard.

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) (SPOILERS) I’d like to report I had a blast with Godzilla vs. Kong . It’s lighter on its oversized, city-stomping feet than its slog of a MonsterVerse predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters , and there are flashes of visual inspiration along with several engaging core ideas (which, to be fair, the series had already laid the seeds for). But this sequel still stumbles in its chief task: assembling an engaging, lively story that successfully integrates both tiny humans and towering titans.

You stink, my friend.

Mulan (2020) (SPOILERS) Let that be a lesson to Disney. It’s a fool’s errand to try and beat the Chinese at their own game, no matter how painstakingly respectful – or rather, pandering – you are. Indeed, Mulan ’s abysmal $40m box office take in the country – where it did get a proper release, so no plandemic excuses can be cited – feels like a direct rebuke; don’t try and tell us how to suck eggs. There’s an additional explanation too, of course. That Mulan sucks.

Roswell was a smokescreen, we've had a half a dozen better salvage operations.

The X-Files 1.24: The Erlenmeyer Flask The Erlenmeyer Flask makes for a fast-paced, tense and eventful ride, but does it make any sense? That less than mattered at the time, but revisiting the mythology arc (for probably the fourth or fifth time) reveals increasingly tenuous internal coherence as the various conspiracy elements begin to pile up and the situations become ever-more convoluted. This will become the Chris Carter’s signature: don’t examine the details too closely, go with the flow. Trust Chris implicitly.

It's Dark Age, by Jupiter!

The Dig (2021) (SPOILERS) An account of the greatest archaeological find Britain would know until Professor Horner opened the barrow at Devil’s End. And should you scoff at such “ fiction ”, that’s nothing on this adaptation of John Preston’s 2007 novel concerning the Sutton Hoo excavations of the late 1930s. The Dig , as is the onus of any compelling fictional account, takes liberties with the source material, but the erring from the straight and narrow in this case is less an issue than the shift in focus from characters and elements successfully established during the first hour.

By heaven, I’d thrash the life out of you… if I didn’t have to read the Nine O’Clock News.

The Green Man (1956) (SPOILERS) The Green movie from Launder and Gilliat starring Alastair Sim that isn’t Green for Danger. Which is to say, The Green Man can’t quite scale the heady heights of that decade-earlier murder mystery triumph, but neither is it any slouch. Sim is the antagonist this time – albeit a very affable, Sim-ish one – and his sometime protégée, a young George Cole, the hero. If the plot is entirely absurd, Robert Day’s movie wastes no time probing such insufficiencies, ensuring it is very funny, lively and beautifully performed.

UFO IN MOSSINGHAM?

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2020) (SPOILERS) One might reasonably suggest the recourse of the ailing or desperate franchise is to resort, seemingly out of nowhere, to space aliens. Even Police Academy didn’t go that far (to Moscow, yes, but not to space). Perhaps animators think kids have no skills of discernment and will swallow any old sugar-coated crap. Perhaps they don’t, and they will. Ice Age had been enjoying absurd success until Collision Course sent Scrat spinning into the cosmos and grosses tumbled. Shaun the Sheep has been around for a quarter of a century, but this is only his second movie outing and already he’s pulling an E.T. on us. Of course, this may all be part of the grand scheme, and Nick Park is simply doing his bit to familiarise the tots in time for Project Blue Beam.

Careful how much boat you’re eating.

Onward (2020) (SPOILERS) Pixar’s Bright , or thereabouts. The interesting thing – perhaps the only interesting thing – about Onward is that it’s almost indiscernible from a DreamWorks Animation effort, where once they cocked a snook at such cheap-seats fare, seeing themselves as better class of animation house altogether. Just about everything in Onward is shamelessly derivative, from the Harry Potter /fantasy genre cash-in to the use of the standard Pixar formula whereby any scenario remotely eccentric or exotic is buried beneath the banal signifiers of modern society: because anything you can imagine must be dragged down to tangible everyday reference points or kids won’t be able to assimilate it. And then there’s the choice of lead voices, in-Disney star-slaves Chris Pratt and Tom Holland.

Farewell, dear shithead, farewell.

Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) (SPOILERS) I saw Highlander II: The Quickening at the cinema. Yes, I actually paid money to see one of the worst mainstream sequels ever on the big screen. I didn’t bother investigating the Director’s Cut until now, since the movie struck me as entirely unsalvageable. I was sufficiently disenchanted with all things Highlander that I skipped the TV series and slipshod sequels, eventually catching Christopher Lambert’s last appearance as Connor MacLeod in Highlander: End Game by accident rather than design. But Highlander II ’s on YouTube , and the quality is decent, so maybe the Director’s Cut improve matters and is worth a reappraisal? Not really. It’s still a fundamentally, mystifyingly botched retcon enabling the further adventures of MacLeod, just not quite as transparently shredded in the editing room.

A subterranean Loch Ness Monster?

Doctor Who The Silurians No, I’m not going to refer to The Silurians as Doctor Who and the Silurians . I’m going to refer to it as Doctor Who and the Eocenes . The Silurians plays a blinder. Because both this and Inferno know the secret of an extended – some might say overlong – story is to keep the plot moving, they barely drag at all and are consequently much fleeter of foot than many a four parter. Unlike Malcolm Hulke’s sequel The Sea Devils , The Silurians has more than enough plot and deals it out judiciously (the plague, when it comes, kicks the story up a gear at the precarious burn-out stage of a typical four-plus parter). What’s most notable, though, is how engaging those first four episodes are, building the story slowly but absorbingly and with persuasive confidence.

Suspicions of destiny. We all have them. A deep, wordless knowledge that our time has come.

Damien: Omen II (1978) (SPOILERS) There’s an undercurrent of unfulfilled potential with the Omen series, an opportunity to explore the machinations of the Antichrist and his minions largely ignored in favour of Final Destination deaths every twenty minutes or so. Of the exploration there is, however, the better part is found in Damien: Omen II , where we’re privy to the parallel efforts of a twelve or thirteen-year-old Damien at military school and those of Thorn Industries. The natural home of the diabolical is, after all, big business. Consequently, while this sequel is much less slick than the original, it is also more engaging dramatically.