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

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…

Prepare the Heathen’s Stand! By order of purification!

Apostle (2018)
(SPOILERS) Another week, another undercooked Netflix flick from an undeniably talented director. What’s up with their quality control? Do they have any? Are they so set on attracting an embarrassment of creatives, they give them carte blanche, to hell with whether the results are any good or not? Apostle's an ungainly folk-horror mashup of The Wicker Man (most obviously, but without the remotest trace of that screenplay's finesse) and any cult-centric Brit horror movie you’d care to think of (including Ben Wheatley's, himself an exponent of similar influences-on-sleeve filmmaking with Kill List), taking in tropes from Hammer, torture porn, and pagan lore but revealing nothing much that's different or original beyond them.

You can’t just outsource your entire life.

Tully (2018)
(SPOILERS) A major twist is revealed in the last fifteen minutes of Tully, one I'll happily admit not to have seen coming, but it says something about the movie that it failed to affect my misgivings over the picture up to that point either way. About the worst thing you can say about a twist is that it leaves you shrugging.

There's something wrong with the sky.

Hold the Dark (2018)
(SPOILERS) Hold the Dark, an adaptation of William Giraldi's 2014 novel, is big on atmosphere, as you'd expect from director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) and actor-now-director (I Don’t Want to Live in This World Anymore) pal Macon Blair (furnishing the screenplay and appearing in one scene), but contrastingly low on satisfying resolutions. Being wilfully oblique can be a winner if you’re entirely sure what you're trying to achieve, but the effect here is rather that it’s "for the sake of it" than purposeful.

No one understands the lonely perfection of my dreams.

Ridley Scott Ridders Ranked
During the '80s, I anticipated few filmmakers' movies more than Ridley Scott's; those of his fellow xenomorph wrangler James Cameron, perhaps. In both cases, that eagerness for something equalling their early efforts receded as they studiously managed to avoid the heights they had once reached. Cameron's output dropped off a cliff after he won an Oscar. Contrastingly, Scott's surged like never before when his film took home gold. Which at least meant he occasionally delivered something interesting, but sadly, it was mostly quantity over quality. Here are the movies Scott has directed in his career thus far - and with his rate of  productivity, another 25 by the time he's 100 may well be feasible – ranked from worst to best.

Well, you did take advantage of a drunken sailor.

Tomb Raider (2018)
(SPOILERS) There's evidently an appetite out there for a decent Tomb Raider movie, given that the lousy 2001 incarnation was successful enough to spawn a (lousy) sequel, and that this lousier reboot, scarcely conceivably, may have attracted enough bums on seats to do likewise. If we're going to distinguish between order of demerits, we could characterise the Angelina Jolie movies as both pretty bad; Tomb Raider, in contrast, is unforgivably tedious.

If you want to have a staring contest with me, you will lose.

Phantom Thread (2017)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps surprisingly not the lowest grossing of last year's Best Picture Oscar nominees (that was Call Me by Your Name) but certainly the one with the least buzz as a genuine contender, subjected as Phantom Thread was to a range of views from masterpiece (the critics) to drudge (a fair selection of general viewers). The mixed reaction wasn’t so very far from Paul Thomas Anderson's earlier The Master, and one suspects the nomination was more to do with the golden glow of Daniel Day-Lewis in his first role in half a decade (and last ever, if he's to be believed) than mass Academy rapture with the picture. Which is ironic, as the relatively unknown Vicky Krieps steals the film from under him.

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

This is it. This is the moment of my death.

Fearless (1993)
Hollywood tends to make a hash of any exploration of existential or spiritual themes. The urge towards the simplistic, the treacly or the mawkishly uplifting, without appropriate filtering or insight, usually overpowers even the best intentions. Rarely, a movie comes along that makes good on its potential and then, more than likely, it gets completely ignored. Such a fate befell Fearless, Peter Weir’s plane crash survivor-angst film, despite roundly positive critical notices. For some reason audiences were willing to see a rubgy team turn cannibal in Alive, but this was a turn-off? Yet invariably anyone who has seen Fearless speaks of it in glowing terms, and rightly so.

Weir’s pictures are often thematically rich, more anchored by narrative than those of, say, Terrence Malick but similarly preoccupied with big ideas and their expression. He has a rare grasp of poetry, symbolism and the mythic. Weir also displays an acute grasp of the subjective mind-set, and possesses …

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.