Skip to main content

Jerry, have you ever taken a bath in the dark?


Seinfeld
2.1: The Ex-Girlfriend

The Premise

George summons up the courage to break it off with a girlfriend. Jerry debates whether to go out with her.

Observational

If the plots haven’t yet become finely crafted jewellery, you can already see how Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David have honed their approach in the wake of the brief first season. The central premise is a solid one, but the concurrent storylines take place off-screen.

George’s worry and prevaricating is typical George, while Jerry’s blasé approach to matters of the heart (“Just do it like a band aid. One motion. Right off”) is of a piece. George’s nonchalance at Jerry wanting to go out with his ex, even given that he is surprised by his lack of concern (“You’re a fine person. You’re a humanitarian”), is probably not something the writers would have gone for in later seasons (the consequent neuroses would have proven irresistible).

And Tracy Kolis’ broad southern gal Marlene is very funny, duskily sexy and unsettling at the same time. The answer phone message she leaves Jerry is hilariously batty (“Jerry, have you ever taken a bath in the dark? I’m not talking into the soap right now. Call me back”) and her vacant delivery shows fine comic timing. If there’s a criticism it’s that the pay-off seems rather an obvious one with the benefit of hindsight; she doesn’t like his comedy act and won’t go out with someone she doesn’t respect.

If George’s casualness over his ex is a surprise, he makes up for it elsewhere, It’s his sense of his own weakness that pushes Jerry towards Marlene in the first place (George persuades him to pick up some books he left at her apartment, too cowardly to do it himself). His conviction that chiropracty is a racket provides a great running gag (“They don’t do anything!”) and then there’s his reaction to the bill (“What, am I seeing Sinatra in there?”) George’s penny-pinching will also become a series constant; he only pays half the bill for his treatment, and Jerry picks up the rest of the tab. Likewise, he will regularly be confronted with lurking doubts over the mettle his heterosexuality. He also swallows a fly (“What should I do? What can happen?”)

Elaine has an issue with a neighbour who used to say hello everyday but now ignores her (“He went from nods to nothing”), and is persuaded to confront him. The scene where she recounts what happened is a great example of the energy Julia Louis-Dreyfus brings to the show, but she and Michael Richards are definitely pulling the rear-guard action in this one. Kramer’s particularity over fruit gets an early innings as he tries to persuade Jerry of the wonders of his cantaloupe vendor. Of course, Jerry buys from his own seller (“See, that stinks!” exclaims Kramer).

Nothing much to write home about on the monologues front; discussions of road lane experts and women needing to like the job of guys they’re dating.

Quotable

Elaine: I think you’re a little afraid to sit next to a man. You’re a little homophobic, aren’t you?
George: Is it that obvious?

George: I think you absolutely have to say something to this guy. Confront him.
Elaine: Really?
George: Yes.
Elaine: Would you do that?
George: If I was a different person.

Jerry: I don’t return fruit. Fruit’s a gamble. I know that going in.

George: I left some books at her apartment.
Jerry: Did you read them?
George: Yeah.
Jerry: So what do you need them for?
George: They’re books!

George: You paid that crook? He didn’t do anything, Jerry! It’s a scam!

Marlene: I can’t be someone if I don’t respect what they do.
Jerry: You’re a cashier!

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