Skip to main content

I love Elaine but, you know, in the building.


Seinfeld
2.8: The Apartment

The Premise

Jerry suggests Elaine rents the recently vacated apartment above him, but quickly regrets the idea.

Observational

This was Peter Mehlman’s first script for the series and, while you can see why Larry and Jerry instantly welcomed him into the fold, it’s a patchy affair. The two key plot threads are strong enough (the potential problems of having an ex living in the same building and the idea that a wedding ring is a chick magnet) but there is something of a standardised sitcom feeling to the structure.

Most evident is the awkward inclusion of Jerry’s landlord Harold (Glenn Shadix, of Beetlejuice and Heathers fame) and his partner Manny (Tony Plana). These scenes are clumsily constructed, with Jerry required to leave his apartment several times to engage in a stagey conversation in the hallway. This kind of interaction exposes Seinfeld’s shortcomings as an actor, and the scenes are heavy with dead air.

George’s subplot sees him in full miscalculating, misfiring mode as he decides to wear the aforementioned wedding ring (band) to improve his chances with the ladies (Kramer: You know, I don’t know why you’re fooling around with his ring. I’ve been telling you, get yourself some plugs – or a piece”). He gets to test his theory at a party hosted by one of Elaine’s friends, unsubtly waving his ring about (“Yeah, my wife couldn’t make it today”). Of course, he’s on the receiving end of a string of propositions, if only he weren’t married (“That’s too bad, because I really have a thing for bald guys with glasses”).

His back-and-forth with Jerry over how he is the world’s biggest idiot (“No one’s a bigger idiot than me”) displays classic George perversity; at least he gets to be good at something, even if it’s something not very good.

Elaine’s utters her first “Get out!” of the series as she pushes Jerry in response to the news that not only does she have an apartment but also it is dirt-cheap. Her jubilation over the death of Mrs Hudwalker (“She died!”) is just the kind of remote, empathy-free response the show will become famous for (and conclude with), as the characters put their selfishness front-and-centre without a semblance of moderation.

So Jerry’s reaction, which is underhand in the extreme, might be seen as justice if wasn’t aimed at one of the few people he might be expected to go that extra distance for. Getting cold feet over his idea (“I’ll be here all the time!” Elaine tells him), he is relieved to hear that the price has gone up (extoling a sudden, and brief, belief in a divine plan). Until Kramer volunteers him to lend Elaine the money.

Kramer: Wait, you didn’t want her in the building?
Jerry: No, I didn’t.
Kramer: Well, uh, why did you loan her the $5,000 then?

The solution arrives when Kramer finds someone will to put up $10,000. It’s pretty lowdown and remorseless (as far as we know, Elaine never finds out), and comes across as somehow different to the quartet’s usual misanthropy; his “I love Elaine but, you know, in the building” doesn’t really cut it. As it turns out, the guy who moves in above has regular band practice (Kramer: Oh, I love the one they do right after this one) so Jerry’s no winner (Elaine: Wow, you’re right. That is loud). But even that seems like pat sitcom justice, rather than something really clever.

Kramer is beginning to make more of a splash, putting his foot in it on Jerry’s behalf and then coming up with a solution that only makes things worse. He’s also sporting a different look (“I moussed up”). Jerry is quite ready to insult Kramer (“You see, you’re not normal. You’re a pod”) because he knows he won’t take offence; he really doesn’t perceive things the way everyone else does.

If the episode is a bit of shift down in quality compared to the last few, the stand-up bits are surprisingly good; Jerry’s explanation of why the bridge of the Starship Enterprise is the ultimate male fantasy (it’s the perfect living room, with a big screen TV in the middle), although the mistaking someone as pregnant is over-familiar. When the show actually does this within the story, with Kramer in the driver’s seat, it’s very funny, however.

Quotable

Jerry: She died.
Elaine: She died?
Jerry: She died!
Elaine: SHE DIED!

Elaine: Get out!

Woman: What does she do?
George: She’s an entymologist. Er, you know. Bees, flies, gnats.

George: You have no idea what an idiot is.
Jerry: This is an idiot.
George: Is that right? I just threw away a lifetime of guilt-free sex and floor seats for every sporting event in Madison Square Garden. So please, show some respect. For I am Costanza, Lord of the Idiots.

Verdict:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Damn prairie dog burrow!

Tremors (1990) (SPOILERS) I suspect the reason the horror comedy – or the sci-fi comedy, come to that – doesn’t tend to be the slam-dunk goldmine many assume it must be, is because it takes a certain sensibility to do it right. Everyone isn’t a Joe Dante or Sam Raimi, or a John Landis, John Carpenter, Edgar Wright, Christopher Landon or even a Peter Jackson or Tim Burton, and the genre is littered with financial failures, some of them very good failures (and a good number of them from the names mentioned). Tremors was one, only proving a hit on video (hence six sequels at last count). It also failed to make Ron Underwood a directing legend.

Here’s Bloody Justice for you.

Laughter in Paradise (1951) (SPOILERS) The beginning of a comedic run for director-producer Mario Zampa that spanned much of the 1950s, invariably aided by writers Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies (the latter went on to pen a spate of Norman Wisdom pictures including The Early Bird , and also comedy rally classic Monte Carlo or Bust! ) As usual with these Pertwee jaunts, Laughter in Paradise boasts a sparky premise – renowned practical joker bequeaths a fortune to four relatives, on condition they complete selected tasks that tickle him – and more than enough resultant situational humour.

I hate natural causes!

Body Bags (1993) (SPOILERS) I’m not surprised Showtime didn’t pick this up for an anthology series. Perhaps, if John Carpenter had made Coming Home in a Body Bag (the popular Nam movie series referenced in the same year’s True Romance ), we’d have something to talk about. Tho’ probably not, if Carpenter had retained his by this point firmly glued to his side DP Gary Kibbe, ensuring the proceedings are as flat, lifeless and unatmospheric as possible. Carpenter directed two of the segments here, Tobe Hooper the other one. It may sound absurd, given the quality of Hooper’s career, but by this point, even he was calling the shots better than Carpenter.

I'm offering you a half-share in the universe.

Doctor Who Season 8 – Worst to Best I’m not sure I’d watched Season Eight chronologically before. While I have no hesitation in placing it as the second-best Pertwee season, based on its stories, I’m not sure it pays the same dividends watched as a unit. Simply, there’s too much Master, even as Roger Delgado never gets boring to watch and the stories themselves offer sufficient variety. His presence, turning up like clockwork, is inevitably repetitive. There were no particular revelatory reassessments resulting from this visit, then, except that, taken together – and as The Directing Route extra on the Blu-ray set highlights – it’s often much more visually inventive than what would follow. And that Michael Ferguson should probably have been on permanent attachment throughout this era.

Who’s got the Figgy Port?

Loki (2021) (SPOILERS) Can something be of redeemable value and shot through with woke? The two attributes certainly sound essentially irreconcilable, and Loki ’s tendencies – obviously, with new improved super-progressive Kevin Feige touting Disney’s uber-agenda – undeniably get in the way of what might have been a top-tier MCU entry from realising its full potential. But there are nevertheless solid bursts of highly engaging storytelling in the mix here, for all its less cherishable motivations. It also boasts an effortlessly commanding lead performance from Tom Hiddleston; that alone puts Loki head and shoulders above the other limited series thus far.

I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this.

The Tomorrow War (2021) (SPOILERS). Not so much tomorrow as yesterday. There’s a strong sense of déjà vu watching The Tomorrow War , so doggedly derivative is it of every time-travel/alien war/apocalyptic sci-fi movie of the past forty years. Not helping it stand out from the pack are doughy lead Chris Pratt, damned to look forever on the beefy side no matter how ripped he is and lacking the chops or gravitas for straight roles, and debut live-action director Chris McKay, who manages to deliver the goods in a serviceably anonymous fashion.

Why don't we go on a picnic, up the hill?

Invaders from Mars (1986) (SPOILERS) One can wax thematical over the number of remakes of ’50s movies in the ’80s – and ’50s SF movies in particular – and of how they represent ever-present Cold War and nuclear threats, and steadily increasing social and familial paranoias and disintegrating values. Really, though, it’s mostly down to the nostalgia of filmmakers for whom such pictures were formative influences (and studios hoping to make an easy buck on a library property). Tobe Hooper’s version of nostalgia, however, is not so readily discernible as a John Carpenter or a David Cronenberg (not that Cronenberg could foment such vibes, any more than a trip to the dental hygienist). Because his directorial qualities are not so readily discernible. Tobe Hooper movies tend to be a bit shit. Which makes it unsurprising that Invaders from Mars is a bit shit.

What's a movie star need a rocket for anyway?

The Rocketeer (1991) (SPOILERS) The Rocketeer has a fantastic poster. One of the best of the last thirty years (and while that may seem like faint praise, what with poster design being a dying art – I’m looking at you Marvel, or Amazon and the recent The Tomorrow War – it isn’t meant to be). The movie itself, however, tends towards stodge. Unremarkable pictures with a wide/cult fanbase, conditioned by childhood nostalgia, are ten-a-penny – Willow for example – and in this case, there was also a reasonably warm critical reception. But such an embrace can’t alter that Joe Johnston makes an inveterately bland, tepid movie director. His “feel” for period here got him The First Avenger: Captain America gig, a bland, tepid movie tending towards stodge. So at least he’s consistent.

Hey, my friend smells amazing!

Luca (2021) (SPOILERS) Pixar’s first gay movie ? Not according to director Enrico Cassarosa (“ This was really never in our plans. This was really about their friendship in that kind of pre-puberty world ”). Perhaps it should have been, as that might have been an excuse – any excuse is worth a shot at this point – for Luca being so insipid and bereft of spark. You know, the way Soul could at least claim it was about something deep and meaningful as a defence for being entirely lacking as a distinctive and creatively engaging story in its own right.

As in the hokey kids’ show guy?

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) (SPOILERS) I don’t think Mr Rogers could have been any creepier had Kevin Spacey played him. It isn’t just the baggage Tom Hanks brings, and whether or not he’s the adrenochrome lord to the stars and/or in Guantanamo and/or dead and/or going to make a perfectly dreadful Colonel Tom Parker and an equally awful Geppetto; it’s that his performance is so constipated and mannered an imitation of Mr Rogers’ genuineness that this “biopic” takes on a fundamentally sinister turn. His every scene with a youngster isn’t so much exuding benevolent empathy as suggestive of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ’s Child Catcher let loose in a TV studio (and again, this bodes well for Geppetto). Extend that to A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood ’s conceit, that Mr Rogers’ life is one of a sociopathic shrink milking angst from his victims/patients in order to get some kind of satiating high – a bit like a rejuvenating drug, on that score – and you have a deeply unsettli