Saturday, May 21, 2005

Seinfeld & Self-Congratulation

The DVD extras on the fourth season of Seinfeld are, as extras tend to be, mostly self-congratulatory. (Even Larry David is, behind the neurotic veneer, pretty darn pleased with himself and his work.) I was hoping that, amidst all the talk of the show's "breakthrough season" and Larry David's idea of giving the season a story arc, someone would point out what I think is obvious: the NBC story arc was a bad idea. Most of the material dealing with that story arc, apart from the famous "show about nothing" scene, is pretty dull. What's worse, it's so inside-jokey that it loses track of what the show was supposed to be about, namely taking everyday annoyances and obsessions (the things that found their way into Seinfeld's standup comedy) and turning them into stories. It was a relief that even though it was about the life of a standup comedian, it wasn't one of those inside-showbiz stories that could be of no possible interest to anyone outside of showbiz. And then, in the show's fourth season, the writers decided to devote a huge chunk of time to jokes about show business and their own experiences in show business -- experiences that the average viewer couldn't relate to and didn't want to relate to. It must have worked, because the show became a breakout hit in the middle of this story arc. But it was pretty dreary compared to the stories about life, as opposed to show business.

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