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Just make love to that wall, pervert!


Seinfeld
2.10: The Statue

The Premise

Jerry employs a cleaner, the boyfriend of an author whose book Elaine is editing. He leaves the apartment spotless, but Jerry is convinced he has made off with a statue.

Observational

A dazzling return to form, and one of the best episodes of the season. It also, as Michael Richards has noted, gives us a Kramer in full creative flow, so setting the tone for many of his later exploits. This should be no surprise, as the script comes from the more offbeat sensibilities of Larry Charles; there’s usually something slightly cartoonish about his scripts, which may be why they’re often my favourites.

Something we’ve seen little of so far are memorable supporting characters. Most have been other halves of the week, but here we have not one but two and both are very funny. Michael D. Conway’s Ray is an effusive English grad student so theatrical that you know something must be wrong somewhere. And sure enough, we see him return to his girlfriend’s apartment, grumbling and kicking his heels; the façade has fallen away.

Rava (Nurit Koppel) is a ravishing misery with a somewhere-in-the-vicinity Finnish accent and a commentary that can kill a convivial atmosphere stone dead. Koppel was apparently an ex of Richard Lewis, which caused a bit of tension on set with Jerry (as he had naturally been on Lewis’ side through the break-up). Both Koppel and Conway spark off the regulars and Charles seems charged by the creative possibilities; you could imagine an episode of double the length.

The best of Rava’s interplay comes with Elaine, although Jerry gets in the occasional glancing blow at her less than sunny outlook (“So what do you, write children’s books?”) Inevitably Rava and Elaine discuss the brouhaha over Ray, and inevitably they take sides. Tom Cherones stages this sequence with consummate skill, as their argument rages unseen when they enter a lift. Rava, smoking away, is causing distress to the fellow passengers and Elaine is never one to bite her tongue, even if it costs her the much-wanted editing role.

Rava: You are jealous of our love and you want to destroy us.
Elaine: Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?

Jerry, very into his cleanliness, is incredibly impressed by Ray’s work (“He Windexed the little peephole!”), although his upbeat manner gives him pause (“Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?”). While it’s Jerry who initiates the quest for justice against Ray, the full impassioned force comes form George and Kramer.

George, who has been studying new words to introduce into conversation (“It’s anathema”) has a vested interest; the statue (which Kramer discovered in a box of items left to Jerry by his grandfather) is identical to one he broke as a child (while pretending it was a microphone). By this point we have a clear picture of his not-yet-introduced parents (“My mother’s making her roast potatoes”), and we can all too easily see the likelihood of the sight of Frank Costanza’s naked frame scarring George for life.

But it’s George’s bout of indignant rage, directed at Ray in the diner, that really scores. As with the lift scene, the staging is superlative. George sits with his back to Jerry, who is failing to extract a confession from Ray. To each response from Ray George mutters invective, while dismissing Jerry’s attempts (“Did you call me a wuss?”) Finally, he gets up to confront Ray and his turning worm is both impressive and amusing. Until Ray starts to get angry, at which point he wilts.

The very finest scene comes right at the end, however. Kramer came away with most of Jerry’s grandfather’s items (mainly clothes, including a pair of knee socks and a hat like Joe Friday’s from Dragnet). But after his squabble with George over possession of the statue (resolved by a game of Inka-Dink, in which Jerry bends the rules so George wins) he is given to sporadic suggestions that justice should be served (“Let’s go get him”). With only three or four minutes left, Ray answers the door and finds Kramer posing as a police detective and demanding to search the premises (he accuses Ray of grand larceny, possession of stolen goods and “murder!”). Richards is a tour de force, a whirlwind of energy and limbs as he pushes Ray into the corner (“Just make love to that wall, pervert!”) and makes off with the statue.

I’m not sure Kramer ever actually ends up making things better for anyone, as well meaning as he is. So it’s no surprise that the final scene sees George show eternal gratitude, only for Cosmo (not yet known by that name) to pat him on the back. Which sends the statue flying out of George’s hands to fall to the floor, shattering.

Quotable

George: My parents looked at me like I smashed the Ten Commandments. It was the single most damaging experience of my life. Aside from seeing my father naked.

Ray: Greetings. I beg your forgiveness. My tardiness was unavoidable.

Jerry: Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?

Jerry: Kramer, it’s Jerry. Jerry. Jerry. From next door. Jerry Seinfeld. Never mind where I am. Just dip the bread in the batter and put it in the pan. Okay, bye. My mother. She forgot how to make French Toast. You know hoe mothers are.
Rava: My mother left us when I was six years old. All seven of us. We never heard from her again. I hope she’s rotting in an alley somewhere.
Jerry: My mother’s down in Florida.

Ray: How about dinner?
Jerry: No, I can’t eat dinner. Dinner’s for suckers.

George: Who is this? I’m the judge and the jury, pal. An the verdict is, “Guilty!”

Ray: You are starting to make me angry.
George: Well… That was bound to happen eventually.

Elaine: Did you go out last night?
Rava: No, we made love on the floor like two animals. Ray is insatiable.

Elaine: There are degrees of coincidence.
Rava: No, there are only coincidences. (Turning to lift passengers) Are there big coincidences and small coincidences? Well? Well?

Man: Will you put that cigarette out?
Rava: Maybe I put it out in your face.

George: This experience has changed me. It has made me more bitter. More cynical. More jaded.
Jerry: Really?
George: Sure, why not?

Kramer: Just make love to that wall, pervert!

Ray: I think you’ve got me confused with someone else.
Kramer: Is your name Ray?
Ray: Yes.
Kramer: Yeah, you’re the punk I’m looking for.

Ray: Are you a cop?
Kramer: Yeah, I’m a cop. I’m a damn good cop. I’m a cop!

Verdict:


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