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Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Static From the Geek In Chief: Still Can't Curb My Enthusiasm for Seinfeld

After blazing through the first three seasons of Seinfeld on DVD earlier this year, I couldn't wait for the much-lauded fourth season to be released. And this new 4 disc set doesn't disappoint: you can feel the show hit its stride and take off. And the special features included (inside looks at many episodes with cast commentary, deleted scenes, "Notes About Nothing" which give running factoids about the episode) are above average DVD extras- they actually are worth watching.

A motto among Seinfeld's creators was always "No hugs, no lessons," keeping the show's saccharine quality to an absolute minimum. But whether society has become more crass since the show first aired- or since numerous shows with similar attitudes have come since- it doesn't seem as off-putting today.

In fact, it's interesting to now re-watch this series after some distance- as well as after enjoying four seasons of the Seinfeld-on-crack Curb Your Enthusiasm. Curb's protagonist, Larry David, is so unlikeable, so crass, so... repugnant, he makes Seinfeld's irksome foursome seem almost sweet.

As unlikeable as Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine were, I could never see them following in David's footsteps by hacking up a lodged pubic hair, slipping Benadryl into a Christian Scientist's brownie, or faking being molested for the benefit of an incest group. Sure, the show was based on many of David's foibles, but needed taming for network television.

The masturbation contest (where the actual word is never used), groundbreaking and controversial at the time, now seems quaint by comparison. Even the vague awkwardness of the characters is eclipsed by newer comedies, especially BBC's The Office.

Of course, without Seinfeld, there'd never have been a Curb. Which makes me wonder... ten years from now, where will the line in TV comedy be drawn? I don't know, but one things for sure: I'll be watching David and company pole vault right over it.

The Geek In Chief writes Static every Wednesday while pitching a pants tent.

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