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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Various
Cast:
Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander
Writing Credits:
Various

Tagline:
A show about nothing.

Synopsis:
The infamous "show about nothing" hit its stride in the fifth season, when it reached number three in the ratings, and scored some of its most memorable episodes. Jerry Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David have drawn inspiration from the mundanities and absurdities of their own life experiences - many of which are New York-centric - and shaped them into the stories that have made Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George (Jason Alexander), Kramer (Michael Richards), and Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) some of the most popular and enduring characters on television. In season five, Jerry finds out Elaine faked her orgasms when they were dating, and convinces her to let him try again. George moves back in with his parents, and experiences a reversal of his bad luck when he decides to do the opposite of everything he normally does. Jerry's girlfriend refuses to give Elaine toilet paper in the ladies' room, while Kramer recognizes her voice from a sex hotline. This season also includes the episodes "The Glasses," "The Masseuse," "The Fire," and "The Hamptons."

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 498 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 11/22/2005

Bonus:
Disc One
• Commentaries for “The Mango” and “The Glasses”
• “Jason + Larry = George” Featurette
• NBC Promos and TV Spots
• “Inside Look” Featurettes for Four Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for Three Episodes
• “Notes About Nothing” Text Commentary for All Episodes
Disc Two
• Commentaries for “The Lip Reader”, “The Non-Fat Yogurt”, “The Masseuse” and “The Cigar Store Indian”
• Exclusive Stand-Up Material
• “Inside Look” Featurettes for Three Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for One Episode
• “Notes About Nothing” Text Commentary for All Episodes
• Both Original and Alternate Versions of “The Non-Fat Yogurt”
Disc Three
• Commentaries for “The Marine Biologist” and “The Pie”
• “Inside Look” Featurettes for Five Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for Four Episodes
• “Notes About Nothing” Text Commentary for All Episodes
Disc Four
• Commentaries for and “The Hamptons” and “The Opposite”
• “Inside Look” Featurettes for Four Episodes
• Deleted Scenes for Three Episodes
• “Notes About Nothing” Text Commentary for All Episodes
• Bloopers


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Seinfeld: Season 5 (1994)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 10, 2006)

Time for more fun with Seinfeld. This new package includes all the episodes from the series’ Season Five. These shows will be discussed in the order in which they appear on the DVDs. The plot synopses come from the DVD’s packaging. They’re short, but they do the job.

DVD ONE:

The Mango: “When Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) learns Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) faked orgasms with him, he pleads for another chance in bed. Kramer’s (Michael Richards) banned from his local fruit stand and George (Jason Alexander) learns the sexual power of mango.

I wouldn’t call “Mango” one of the series’ better episodes, but it has its moments. To my surprise, I like the Kramer thread best, as his pursuit of fruit pushes out some great laughs. The whole orgasm element to the rest of the show gets a little tiresome, though.

The Glasses: “George loses his glasses and thinks he sees Jerry’s girlfriend (Anna Gunn) with his cousin Jeffrey. A strange dog bites Elaine and Kramer helps Jerry buy a powerful air conditioner.”

“Glasses” provides a good example of an episode during which all four subplots meld well. None of the four stand out as particularly memorable on their own, but they weave seamlessly into a tight package. Hat makes it a solid program.

The Puffy Shirt: “During dinner with Kramer’s low-talking girlfriend (Deborah May), Jerry unwittingly agrees to wear a puffy pirate shirt for his upcoming Today Show appearance.”

One of the show’s most iconic episodes, “Shirt” delivers the goods. However, I think the George subplot about his gig as a hand model is better. This episode formally introduces Jerry Stiller as Mr. Costanza, and it’s very funny to see George ride the wave when you know he’ll soon crash. This turns into a fine program.

The Sniffing Accountant: “Jerry thinks his accountant (John Kapelos) is a drug addict. Jerry, Kramer and Newman (Wayne Knight) plot a stakeout. George plans another career change: bra salesman.”

While mediocre Seinfeld still beats the best shows of most sitcoms, that doesn’t make this episode less erratic. It presents some good moments, such as Kramer’s idiotic attempt to “sting” the accountant, and Elaine’s break-up over punctuation is clever. Nonetheless, the show leaves me cold, as it never really gets going.

The Bris: “Jerry and Elaine agree to be godparents to their friends’ newborn boy. They find a shaky mohel (Charles Levin) to perform the bris. Kramer is convinced he saw a pigman at the hospital.”

“Bris” improves on “Accountant” but still doesn’t manage to produce high caliber Seinfeld. The best moments come from Kramer’s obsession with the pigman, especially when he speaks on the subject as a self-considered authority. George comes across as a little too self-absorbed here, though, and the mohel is so over the top that he stops being funny quickly.

DVD TWO:

The Lip Reader: “George tries to get Jerry’s deaf girlfriend (Marlee Matlin) to read lips at a party. Kramer becomes a ballboy at the US Open.”

Is even George so oblivious that he’d make such a mess of himself with an ice cream sundae? Probably not, but since it makes for great comedy, I don’t care. The show balances political correctness with laughs in the Matlin plot as well, a tone that works nicely.

The Non-Fat Yogurt: “Jerry and Elaine investigate to see if their favorite frozen yogurt is non-fat. Their research causes a stir during the New York mayoral election. Elaine dates George’s boyhood nemesis, Lloyd Braun (Peter Keleghan).”

Plenty of amusing moments pop up here. From Kramer’s constant references to Jerry’s weight to the kid’s comment of “where’s my f—king cupcake?” to Newman’s gleefulness, this is a terrific show. This program shows the effortless quality of the best Seinfeld.

The Barber: “Jerry frets over leaving his incompetent barber (Anthony Ponzini). Elaine enlists Kramer to participate in a bachelor auction.”

We come back down to earth with the decidedly lackluster “Barber”. George’s thread works fine as he gets a new job and slacks off there, but the problems with Jerry’s barber dominate and make this a moderately lame program.

The Masseuse: “Jerry’s masseuse girlfriend (Jennifer Coolidge) won’t give him a massage. Elaine dates Joel Rifkin (Anthony Cistaro) – not the mass murderer.”

The series rebounds with this good show. I like Jerry’s pathetic attempts to get a massage, and George’s obsession with Jodi is also delightful. George is easily the show’s most neurotic and psychologically damaged character, a fact this episode explores well as he demonstrates a pathetic and pathological need for approval. This program soars.

The Cigar Store Indian: “Jerry offends Elaine’s friend (Kimberly Norris) with a cigar store Indian. Kramer sells his coffee table book idea to Elaine’s boss (Richard Fancy).”

A fun thread starts here with the first mention of Kramer’s coffee table book. It’s entertaining to see Jerry’s awkward attempts at political correctness, and I also like watching George attempt to seduce a woman while in his parents’ house. Add to that Elaine’s creepy TV Guide-obsessed suitor and we find another terrific show.

DISC THREE:

The Conversion: “George goes through the process of converting to the Latvian Orthodox religion for a girl (Jana Marie Hupp). Jerry spots a suspicious ointment in his girlfriend’s (Kimberly Campbell) medicine cabinet.”

Unfortunately, we follow “Indian” with a much more mediocre episode. It seems enjoyable but it lacks any real standout moments. I can’t cite any true weaknesses, but I can’t find anything memorable about it.

The Stall: “Elaine agonizes over a woman’s refusal to pass her some toilet paper under the stall of a public restroom. Kramer convinces Jerry that his girlfriend (Jami Gertz) makes a living as a phone sex operator. George befriends Elaine’s ‘mimbo’ boyfriend (Dan Cortese).”

An episode chock full of catchphrases, “Stall” bounces back after the forgettable “Conversion”. I don’t think I really buy Elaine going after Tony, though. Sure, he’s good-looking, but she’s never responded to such superficial guys in the past, and Tony’s such a jerk that I can’t accept her pursuit of him. He’s arguably the least likable character to come down the pike on the series, as he lacks even the rudimentary quirkiness of other jerks; he’s too realistically obnoxious. The rest of the show works better; it’s not great, but it’s above average.

The Marine Biologist: “George starts dating an old classmate (Rosalind Allen) when Jerry tells her that George is a successful marine biologist. Elaine’s electronic organizer injures a passerby (Carol Kane) when her Russian novelist client (George Murdock) launches it from their limo. Kramer golfs on the beach.”

One of the more popular episodes, I think it’s good but not quite a classic. I feel the show is remembered positively because of its memorable conclusion. George’s terrific ending speech almost makes up for an otherwise lackluster program.

The Dinner Party: “En route to a dinner party, Elaine and Jerry pair off to buy a babka. George’s jacket gets in the way at the liquor store where he and Kramer look for a bottle of wine.”

Usually George has the wrong idea about everything, but I’m on his side here. If someone invites me to dinner, why am I bringing food? If I asked people to my house, I certainly wouldn’t berate them for expecting me to provide the eats! And if they did bring edibles, Pepsi and Ring Dings sounds damned good to me.

I took away one of my favorite catchphrases from this show. Granted, I’m not sure “sorry” really qualifies as a catchphrase, but I love the actor’s enunciation, which I use all the time. This simple story reflects early Seinfeld classics like “The Chinese Restaurant” and works exceedingly well, largely due to that concise focus.

The Pie: “Jerry meets his girlfriend’s (Suzanne Snyder) father Poppie (Reni Santoni) and loses his appetite. Elaine discovers that a mannequin resembling her has been showing up in window displays. George plots a strategy to buy a suit on sale. Kramer dates a Monk’s cashier (Sunday Theodore).”

We meet one of the series’ odder running characters via the occasionally disgusting Poppie. I like his second appearance better, but this still adds up to a nice show. All four stories here are good. It seems a little busy after the tight “Party”, but it’s a fine program anyway.

The Stand-In: “Kramer is hired as a stand-in on a soap opera. He encourages Mickey (Danny Woodburn) to put lifts in his shoes, but this advice doesn’t sit well with the other little people stand-ins. George is ready to break up with his girlfriend (Karla Tamburrelli) until he discovers that she’s being urged to call it quits with him.”

Another occasional running character pops up here via Mickey. He gives the series an unusual component that succeeds. Seinfeld doesn’t treat “little people” in a patronizing manner, but it also doesn’t offer a crude assault. I like George’s odd pronunciation of “Daphne”; with that one weird gesture, he conveys his detachment from his girlfriend. This isn’t a classic, but it has more than a few strong moments.

DVD FOUR:

The Wife: “Jerry lets his girlfriend (Courtney Cox) pose as his wife so that she can receive his dry-cleaning discount, but the scam backfires when his family learns of his ‘marriage’. Elaine’s health club boyfriend (Scott LaRose) wants to turn in George for peeing in the shower.”

My main problem with this episode: Jerry saying “I love you”. I don’t believe he’s ever uttered that to a girlfriend in the past, and it feels like a huge stretch for him to end up in that form of situation. I’ll forgive this oddness since it sets up Jerry’s funny faux marriage, and the shows other elements succeed as well. I especially like Elaine’s confusion as she wonders about the attitude of the guy at the club.

The Fire: “George panics during a fire at his girlfriend’s (Melanie Chartoff) son’s birthday party and botls for an escape route. Kramer saves Elaine’s co-worker’s (Veanne Cox) pinky toe.”

Larry Charles wrote some of Seinfeld’s darker scripts, and that occurs with “Fire”. Heck, George knocks down old ladies as he rushes to the door! “Fire” is a consistently excellent program on all levels. I especially like Cox’s absurdly over the top turn as Toby, Elaine’s obnoxious co-worker. Usually such exaggerated performances are annoying, but she strikes a hilarious note. Kramer’s hilarious story about rescuing the pinky toe caps this terrific show.

The Raincoats (Parts 1 & 2): “Elaine dates a ‘close talker’ (Judge Reinhold) who loves spending time with Jerry’s parents (Barney Martin and Liz Sheridan). Jerry is caught making out during Schindler’s List. Morty and Kramer go into business together.”

After the stellar “Fire”, I suppose a decline was inevitable. That said, “Raincoats” still comes as a disappointment. It offers sporadic entertainment but fails to coalesce. Part of the problem stems from the jerky story telling, as it flits from one thread to another without much coherence. It loses characters and themes to become awkward. It’s decent but not a great show.

The Hamptons: “A weekend getaway to the Hamptons spins out of control when Jerry’s girlfriend (Melanie Smith) sees George – a victim of ‘shrinkage’ – naked.”

Season Five rebounds a bit with “Hamptons”. Maybe I’m still too stuck on “Fire” to appreciate it, but the show has many good moments. It’s not the tightest episode, but it works.

The Opposite: “George decides to do the opposite of his instincts and everything falls into place, even a job with the Yankees. Meanwhile, Elaine loses her boyfriend (and her job, but Jerry remains ‘even Steven’.”

Season Five comes to a conclusion with a memorable show. The whole concept of “Opposite George” is ingenious, and I love the way tables turn with Elaine as well. Though it stretches for the “Even Steven” aspect, this episode offers a great finish to the year and stands as one of the season’s best.


The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C+/ Bonus A-

Seinfeld appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Should you expect Season Five to look better than prior years? Nope, as it offered visuals very similar to those of the other packages.

From start to finish, sharpness was pretty good. Some mild instances of softness occurred, but the majority of the shows were acceptably concise and accurate. A few light examples of jagged edges and shimmering occurred, and some minor of edge enhancement was apparent. The shows continued to look somewhat grainy, and I also noticed the usual occasional instances of small specks and marks.

For the most part, I thought colors looked good. They faltered periodically, but they usually were reasonably lively and concise. Blacks seemed dark and rich, but shadows varied. They sometimes appeared a little too dark, though they were usually acceptable. Again, these shows didn’t offer stellar visuals, but they consistently provided pretty solid picture quality.

Season Five continued the trend of lackluster Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtracks for Seinfeld. The mixes remained restricted. Most of the audio focused on the center channel, and we didn’t get much information from the other speakers. Music broadened to the sides and rears a bit, though. Effects didn’t do much. Even exterior locations stayed subdued, as laughter from the audience provided the main side and rear material. A few shots opened up matters slightly, but don’t expect fireworks here.

Audio quality was perfectly decent. Speech sounded reasonably natural and didn’t suffer from much edginess. Effects came across as acceptably concise and accurate, though they didn’t exactly tax my system. Music presented the liveliest elements, with decent highs and fair bass response. There wasn’t much to the audio, but it was fine for the shows.

Season Five offers supplements very similar to those in past releases. We find Notes About Nothing on all the programs. These text commentaries fill us with all sorts of Seinfeld-related information. They cover biographical and career notes about cast and crew plus specific details about the episodes such as shooting and rehearsal dates, air dates, ratings and reviews. We find scads of details about changes from the original scripts, deleted scenes, and other variations. The tracks go over series development and issues connected to characters and situations. Also, we get cute “counters”; these keep track of Kramer’s entrances, Jerry’s, Kramer’s and George’s girlfriends, Elaine’s boyfriends, and Jerry’s declaration of “Hello, Newman”. Those continue from the earlier sets.

As with the tracks on earlier sets, I learned a lot from “Notes About Nothing”. “Nothing” provides some very detailed and illuminating discussions. They’re an excellent bonus and may well be the strongest aspect of the set.

Next we find 11 running, screen-specific audio commentaries. For “The Mango” and “The Lip Reader”, we hear from actors Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander, while “The Glasses”, “The Pie” and “The Cigar Store Indian” feature writers Tom Gammill and Max Pross. “The Non-Fat Yogurt”, “The Masseuse” and “The Hamptons” focus on writer Carol Leifer and co-producer Peter Mehlman, while “The Marine Biologist” gives us director Tom Cherones and production designer Tom Azzari. Finally, “The Opposite” presents Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

I found prior commentaries to be uninspiring. Unfortunately, that trend continued here. The David/Seinfeld track was consistently boring, and the two actor pieces were similarly flat. They told us some decent notes like Jerry’s crush on Julia and the fact they never shot in NYC, but otherwise they just laughed and left us with lots of dead air.

The Gammill/Pross tracks were better. They talked about how they got onto the series and how they came up with the story. They also went through the processes related to working on the series, dealing with other staff members, and various production notes. The pair didn’t give us a scintillating discussion, but they seemed pretty good.

The Leifer/Mehlman commentaries were similar, though they suffered from a bit more dead air. They covered territory along the same lines as Gammill/Pross. Again, the tracks weren’t excellent, but they gave us some decent information.

“Biologist” ended matters on a bland note. Cherones and Azzari delivered some production issues like getting a whale, but dead air dominated and they didn’t give us much of interest. Overall, the commentaries had their moments, but they remained lackluster. I still think the “Notes About Nothing” do the job much better.

Across all four discs, we get Inside Look featurettes for 16 of the episodes. They come for “The Mango” (2:05), “The Glasses” (2:34), “The Puffy Shirt” (10:21), “The Sniffing Accountant” (4:14), “The Lip Reader” (2:34), “The Non-Fat Yogurt” (4:28), “The Barber” (2:32), “The Conversion” (1:47), “The Stall” (3:53), “The Marine Biologist” (7:06), “The Pie” (3:13), “The Stand-In” (4:53), “The Fire” (3:28), “The Raincoats” (4:01), “The Hamptons” (2:54) and “The Opposite” (7:13). These mix show snippets plus new interviews with David, Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld, Pross, Gammill, Alexander, Cherones, Richards, Leifer, Mehlman, Larry David’s neighbor Kenny Kramer, costume designer Charmaine Simmons, actors Jerry Stiller, Estelle Harris, Wayne Knight, Reni Santoni, Danny Woodburn, and Phil Morris, casting director Marc Hirschfeld, producer Tim Kaiser, composer Jonathan Wolff, TV critic Ray Richmond, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and writers Andy Robin, Bruce Kirschbaum and Larry Charles.

Like the “Notes About Nothing”, the “Inside Looks” take on a mix of basic topics. We hear about inspirations for various lines, characters and sequences, the series’ growing willingness to depart from reality via the silliness of Gammill and Pross, development of some stories, character topics, casting guest actors, designing the puffy shirt, recasting George’s father and Stiller’s work in the role, shooting two versions of some parts of “Non-Fat Yogurt”, music for “The Barber”, trying to land George Steinbrenner, and general notes. Too many show clips appear, and inevitably some of the information repeats from other sources. Nonetheless, the “Inside Looks” toss out lots of good bits that help us learn more about the series. Some highlights come from info about the development of Frank Costanza, and we find out quite a lot of other good stuff. These work nicely.

We discover deleted scenes for 11 episodes: “The Mango” (one scene, 1:09), “The Glasses” (two scenes, 1:38), “The Puffy Shirt” (two scenes, 2:16), “The Non-Fat Yogurt” (two scenes, 1:35), “The Conversion” (three scenes, 3:35), “The Stall” (one scene, 1:02), “The Marine Biologist” (three scenes, 2:10), “The Pie” (two scenes, 1:35), “The Fire” (two scenes, 1:14), “The Raincoats” (one scene, 1:09), and “The Opposite” (four scenes, 3:33).

Most of the snippets offer minor additions to existing sequences. A few minor unique segments appear, such as one in which we actually see Cousin Jeffrey. We also get two alternate endings for “The Conversion”, and we witness Kramer as he saves Toby’s pinky toe. Of course, some of these are somewhat weak, but most are pretty good, and I’m glad to find them here.

DVD One includes a documentary called Jason + Larry = George. This 25-minute and 34-second show features Alexander, David, Seinfeld, Hirschfeld, Louis-Dreyfus, Richards, Pross, Gammill, Leifer, Kirschbaum, Richmond, NBC executives Rick Ludwin and Warren Littlefield, executive producer George Shapiro, director Andy Ackerman, Castle Rock executive Rob Reiner, and actors John O’Hurley, Bob Balaban, and Barney Martin. They get into the origins of George’s character and his development, casting the part, Alexander’s take on the role and his personality, connections to David, elements of David’s career and their influence on the part, and other elements.

Inevitably, we hear some information that repeats from prior sets and other pieces. Nonetheless, “George” offers a succinct recap of elements connected to the character. We find some good new bits and receive a solid overview. I especially like the glimpses of Alexander’s prior sitcoms as well as bits from Fridays and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Entitled Sponsored by Vandelay Industries, DVD One includes a three-minute and 26-second collection of NBC promos and trailers. 10 of these spots appear here, and almost all of them address the show’s move to the time slot formerly occupied by Cheers. These are quite amusing and fun to see.

DVD Two also gives us Master of His Domain. This seven-minute and 51-second clip includes “exclusive stand-up material”. As one might expect, this consists of unused comedy routine snippets. Not all of the bits work, but I’m happy to get the chance to see them.

DVD Two includes both the original and alternate Mayor Dinkins versions of “The Non-Fat Yogurt”. The latter lets us see the episode as it would have aired if Dinkins had won the election. He doesn’t appear, however. It’s fun to compare and contrast the two.

We locate some bloopers on DVD Four. This 13-minute and 16-second reel mostly includes the usual goofs and giggles. A few funny outtakes pop up but mostly this is the same old stuff.

Did Season Five of Seinfeld measure up to the heights achieved in Season Four? Probably not, but any possible decline in quality remained marginal. Season Five continued to offer consistently strong material, as only a couple of episodes were relatively mediocre. The visuals and audio were unexceptional but just fine, and they improved slightly over prior seasons. Extras remained very strong and added a lot to the package. Season Five offers another terrific set that easily earns my recommendation.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.8181 Stars Number of Votes: 11
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