2.2: The Pony Remark
Jerry attends a relative’s dinner party and she takes extreme offence at a joke he makes.
Much as I like Morty and Helen Seinfeld (Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan), I find their episodes don’t tend to have the zest or spark of, say, those with George’s parents. This may be because there’s something slightly recumbent about them, which you could never say of the senior Costanzas.
This idea behind this one is ultimately slightly better than the finished episode; an offhand bit Jerry throws out proves objectionable to Manya (Rozsika Halmos). When she dies that night, Jerry wonders if the offence he caused was so great it killed her. What really sells the thing is the sheer unlikeliness of the subject matter (“Who figures an immigrant’s going to have a pony?”). Jerry decides to lay into these equine beasties (“In fact, I hate anyone that ever had a pony growing up”), little realising that Manya had one (“He was a beautiful pony and I loved him”). Halmos relays Manya’s indignation beautifully. But the dinner scene is such a highlight that the rest can’t quite match up.
Still, there’s some good material at the subsequent funeral, not least the eulogy delivered by Earl Boen (Silberman in the first three Terminators). Louise-Dreyfus also has to shout her inquires over the possibility of letting Manya’s apartment to the not-quite-present Isaac (David Fresco). Consistently barbed are the blunt suggestions that Jerry’s remarks killed Manya; no one is attempting to smooth over his trouble conscience (not really that troubled at all, since a baseball game is his priority), even after Isaac indicates that he wasn’t the cause (“She was much more upset about the potato salad”). Later in the series Jerry will generally coast by unaffected by what transpires; here he is “punished” by losing his baseball game (“Makes you wonder about the spirit world”).
A number of staples of Jerry’s family background are introduced. We learn that Morty had the idea for the beltless trench coat, which will later blossom into a less-than-fruitful business transaction with Kramer. We also see Uncle Leo for the first time, a boorish relative of Jerry’s who comes complete with a tache and a chin; and the inimitably enthusiastic delivery of Len Lesser.
It’s George who shares a backseat with Kramer this time. In fact, he doesn’t even appear until the second half when he surfaces with non-sequitors about his absent sex life. The best part of this scene is his digression and Elaine’s digression over the workings of the spirit world (“It’s all mental!”) Kramer’s contribution is a bet with Jerry over whether he will actually put into effect his plan to split-level and carpet his apartment. When he goes off the idea he does the very Kramer thing of proclaiming the bet is off (Jerry replies, “That’s the bet. That you’re not doing it!”)
George: Do you know how easy it is for dead people to travel? One second! It’s all mental! It’s not like getting on a bus.
Eulogist: Oh, how she loved that pony. It’s lustrous coat. It’s flowing mane. It was the pride of Krakow.
Jerry: But I went to the funeral!
Elaine: Yeah, but that doesn’t make up for killing her.