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He escaped from the gulag!


Seinfeld
2:4: The Baby Shower

The Premise

Going out of town, Jerry lets Elaine hold a baby shower in his apartment. George wants revenge on the shower recipient, whom he once went out with. Kramer persuades Jerry to have illegal cable installed.

Observational

Larry Charles’ slightly more fantastical scripts usually go down well with me, and this one is no exception. Here he populates his plot with Russian immigrants (“They’re Soviet cable guys!”) and includes a full-blown dream sequence.

But it’s George, ever one to hold a grudge, who twists and turns excruciatingly at the centre of the plot. Years earlier, Leslie (Christine Dunford) embarrassed George when she sprayed chocolate syrup all over his red shirt during a piece of performance art (“She’s cooking dinner for God”). He didn’t say anything at the time (Jerry: He thought he was still in with a shot!) but is now consumed with the chance for payback. As ever with George, it all horribly backfires (wearing his ruined shirt to the shower, all he gets is chocolate cake added to the stains).

Kramer’s blithe bullshit instigates at least half of the tribulations of the episode, dangling the carrot of free Nicks games before Jerry for only 150 bucks (the end result is a busted TV). His anarchic non-conformity is no doubt close to Charles’ heart. Kramer also gets the most memorable line when Jerry, confronted by the FBI (“Mr Steinfeld”), makes a run for it and is mown down in a hail of bullets. Clutching Jerry’s body in his arms, Kramer mourns “Cable boy. Cable boy. What have they done to my little cable boy?” The dream reveal then finds Jerry aboard a plane experiencing turbulence with a less than comforting co-passenger (“My name is Bill. I might be the last person you ever see”).

The combination of the two plotlines perhaps lacks the intricacy of later efforts, but the eventful clashes between the genteel shower guests, the slobbish Russian cable guys and Jerry, George and Kramer can’t help but succeed. Since they’re all friends, they have to ruin the event for Elaine (“George, don’t even think about it! Don’t even dream about it!”) Then there’s Kramer making a pig’s ear of smooth talking one of the attendees with an account of his fruit consumption (fruit again!) Best of all is the tirade Mary (Margaret Reed) unleashes at Jerry for once snubbing her. Her experience is a mirror of George’s but, unlike his shrinking violet, her vitriol is magnificently unhinged.

Quotable

Jerry: There’s no hazing of the foetus or anything, is there?

George: She deserves a baby monsoon. She deserves Rosemary’s Baby!

Kramer: He escaped from the gulag!

Kramer: It’s the ‘90s. It’s Hammer Time.

Kramer: Yeah, I eat the whole apple. Core, stem, seeds, everything.

Mary: You’re the insignificant piece of dust!

Elaine: Why can’t I meet a Kennedy?

Verdict:




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