Thursday, February 12, 2009

"Pipe down chorus boy": Seinfeld Series 2: The Jacket

I've been rather slack on the Pretzels and Puffy shirts over the past few weeks but here we return with a classic "The Jacket" from Series 2.

Once again the stand up...this time Jerry's dislike of clothes, shopping, wearing them blah blah blah, setting up the storyline centred on his new and very expensive jacket. Thankfully wardrobe has dispensed with the hideous ties that were such a feature of earlier episodes, now just sportjacket with button up shirt.

Jerry and Elaine shopping for his new jacket. Elaine is holding a book...apparently written by her father, a highly regarded but not very famous author. This is a new background for Elaine which sadly is never followed up again (apparently due to the scariness of the actor playing her father during shooting).

Elaine needs Jerry and George to come to dinner with her father. Jerry isn't keen. The reason: it's too difficult to make conversation with intelligent people: "Frankly I prefer the company of nitwits". Does he have a point here?

Suddenly he alights on a suede jacket which is perfection....except for...disaster (and this will be important later so pay attention)...the candy stripe pink lining. And it's enormously expensive. A major decision....he gets it.

Nice scene back at the apartment with Jerry wearing the jacket over his pyjamas. Kramer (also in jammies) enters to admire the jacket...again noticing the pink lining (everyone still paying attention?). Kramer is desperate to know how much the jacket cost. Jerry refuses to tell him. But Kramer still manages to spy the price tag. He's schocked. And then in typical Kramer style he scams Jerry's old leather jacket. He's doing Jerry a big favour clearly, by taking it off his hands.

Next scene, and I love that George enters singing Les Mis's Master of the House. A whole conversation ensues about getting songs stuck in your head. Schumann went mad from that Jerry tells us. I'm not sure if this is right. Well I know that Schumann was institutionalised, but I'm not sure it was from a repeition of the note A)* but it plays nicely with George's already very visible insecurities.

They're off to dinner with Alton Benes and Elaine. This is George's first viewing of the Jacket. He's impressed. "This jacket has completely changed my life". Jerry is confidence epitomised in the jacket. George's verdict is "It's fabulous". And like Kramer he's desperate to know the price. In the face of Jerry's stoic silence George escalates into a nice blend of fury and indignation, imagining the ridiculously high price Jerry may have paid. This is interrupted, thankfully by Kramer, looking for someone to "do him a solid"...a term I am unfamiliar with, but it seems to be he needs someone to do him a favour. The favour is picking up some doves from his magician friend and he needs someone to sit in the car while he runs in and gets them. Only Kramer would have a friend who is a magician.

George and Jerry arrive at the hotel where they are meeting Elaine and her father. Typical hotel foyer...and then they spy Mr Benes reading a paper. Elaine, significantly, is not yet there. They sit. The conversation is terrifically awkward and goes from bad to worse, especially seeing as Elaine fails to arrive in good time. They talk about nothing...clearly perfect for the show about nothing. Mr Benes is not impressed. They chat about the weather, the drinks arrive, salvation for George and Jerry. And then suddenly a right turn and they're chatting about the Korean war, George and Jerry scull their drinks, discreetly looking for Elaine. Jerry fakes an exit to the bathroom, leaving George stranded. He tries his best, complimenting Mr Benes' writing. Oooh, George, subtly has to run away and make a fake phone call.

He and Jerry are now hiding out in the bathroom. They want to leave, but Jerry can't. He'll feel bad for Elaine. What excuse could they give? George has the perfect answer, "We'll say we're frightened and we have to go home". Refreshing honesty and perhaps one of my all time favourite lines and scenes. There should be more of it.

Some more standup...this time on fathers and how intimidating they are.

Back to the foyer with George and Jerry reinstalled on the couch. Elaine has sent a message. She's running late. Geez could it be anything to do with Kramer's solid? Surely not.

George's imitation of Alton is note perfect when Elaine arrives. "Where's Dad?" "He's in the bathroom" says gravelly voiced George. She's been stuck with the doves. Long monologue ensues here about Kramer and the doves from Elaine which, if I'm being really honest is a bit over the top.

George is still singing as they leave. He's neatly reprimanded by the scary Alton: "Pipe down chorus boy!"
And it's snowing. Suddenly, Jerry's beautiful and expensive suede jacket is in jeopardy. Turning it inside out is the solution, but he is thwarted by Mr Benes' objection to the candy stripes. What will Jerry do?

Back at the apartment, and Kramer comes in looking for mini ritzes to feed to the doves. The jacket is ruined from the snow. Kramer is amused "Don't you know what that does to suede?". Elaine arrives and now Kramer has his eye on the ruined jacket. "If you're just going to throw it out, I can take it". Elaine is horrified at the state of the jacket, "You should have turned it inside out". Huh!

And in a lovely final scene we watch Alton driving home singing Master of the House. Perhaps George and Jerry get their revenge after all.

* There is mention of Schumann's obession with A on wikipedia. But they attribute his symptoms and eventual decline to mercury poisoning (mercury being used as a medication for syphilis).

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