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Customer Review

121 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 Years of Living Haphazardly, November 13, 2007
This review is from: Seinfeld: The Complete Series (DVD)
This box set (and by the way the TV show behind it) deserves every star it can possibly get. Offering us the long view on "Seinfeld," from day one to day last, it allows us to see the scope of this greatest of all television shows, transmogrifying itself from Jerry-In-Red-Sweatpants at the beginning to Jerry-In-Lear-Jet at the end, like the old drawing of Darwin's "ape-caveman-upright man" progression.

And we see that the ape era wasn't so bad, after all; in fact, looked at as part of the show's evolution, the first two seasons, while the writers and actors were finding their voices, were the truest period of all for the show. Scrambling (sometimes raging) to find something, ANYthing to make a show about, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld plumbed the best of their depths, offering a crash course in late-20th century survival of the un-fittest. Even at its 4th-season artistic zenith, the show would never be this real.

With the whole thing here in one place, we can even see that there are periods to this show as with any longterm work. The first period (Seasons 1-2) is the most grounded in reality; the second period (Seasons 3-5) is the most artistically rich, where the show has truly found its niche and explores it like a kid in a Toys R Us with an unlimited charge account; the third period (Seasons 6-7) is the wheels-are-off-the-wagon period, where anything goes as long as it's funny, no idea is too insane; the fourth and final period (Seasons 8-9) is just as anything-goes but it gets just a bit too manic at times, and you occasionally lose the suspension of disbelief you need to enjoy any work of fiction. Still, there is no "bad" season of this show, and no single episode is completely devoid of that brilliant "Seinfeld" wit that made this one of the most popular television shows of all time.

But scope is not all this set offers. It offers, simply, EVERYTHING. Confident that you have every episode at your fingertips, you can flip through the set for a show like you'd flip through the Bible for a quote (that's not going too far, is it?). Pick "The Red Dot," then pick "The Limo," then pick "The Puffy Shirt," then pick "The Finale." On and on it goes, until you've seen so many you forget which ones you've seen and you start again. It's all there. And all the extras from all the box sets, from the feature-length documentary on the creation of the show to the great "Inside Looks" and the (frankly kind of useless) commentaries.

New for this box set is a Seinfeld Coffee Table Book, which is kind of the trivia-rich "Notes About Nothing" segments rolled into a single volume. Also included is an hour-long special recorded in 2007 featuring the original four cast members and Larry David watching and commenting on various clips from the show's nine-year run. It's fun and interesting, but it probably won't be watched more than once or twice. The "Inside Looks" are better for tidbits and insight into the show's workings. Finally, the packaging simply couldn't be better: tight, durable, compact. As always, they've cared enough to think of everything.

I love this show, I can watch it again and again, and it bugs me every time I hear people (even Seinfeld and co. themselves) talking about the characters as unredeemable or even vaguely sociopathic. The characters in "Seinfeld" are not anything like that. I think this misinterpretation, which is widespread even among the show's fans, is the fault of the actors and producers themselves, who have famously said that "Seinfeld" is a "no-learning, no-hugging" show. They themselves sold the characters as unredeemable; but the fact is that the 4-way friendship portrayed in this show is the strongest friendship ever portrayed on television. To me, that's what makes "Seinfeld" so great. What that show is REALLY about is people living in a massive, overwhelming urban environment (which, in our society of computers and malls and digital cable is everyone, even those living in small towns) who create and maintain a small outpost of human closeness, of love, in the face of that industrial anonymity we all feel closing in every day. That's certainly why I react to it, and why I've watched it so often. Not just the dialogue and the unorthodox structure of the show, which is brilliant, and not just the dead-on satire of modern American culture, but the relationships. "Seinfeld" is deeper than it ever sold itself.

All in all the complete box set is everything you could ask for, assuming you already like "Seinfeld." If you don't, come on, you're not plunking down two hundred bucks for this thing anyway.
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 19, 2008 11:40:21 AM PST
Tome Raider says:
FABULOUS analysis of why the show works. It had not occurred to me before, but the moment I read your words I knew you were spot on.

Posted on Aug 5, 2009 3:25:04 PM PDT
Great review Bruce, as a recent fan of the series (The series goes on season 5 on Cable in Mexico), I'm very tempted into buying this set, and your excelent review made my crave for everything from the show. Since I got into the series about a year ago, this will make my appettite for the show get a little calm down. Thanks and congrats!

Posted on Dec 6, 2011 2:05:38 PM PST
RonR says:
Took me four years but finally they had a Gold box deal for $94.00...very happy!

Posted on Jan 19, 2012 10:59:21 PM PST
This is extraordinarily well-said, and sums up what the show was about way better than anything else I've ever read.

Posted on Aug 25, 2012 12:15:52 PM PDT
Anna says:
I totally agree with this accurate and insightful review. Thanks Bruce!

Posted on May 24, 2013 4:21:25 PM PDT
CD says:
Very well written Bruce. I am a huge fan of Seinfeld and what you have written here sums it up perfectly. Thanks for this very insightful analysis on the greatest show in American Television.

Posted on Jul 3, 2014 4:53:09 PM PDT
actsam says:
That's was a very insightful review. It struck a deep and even melancholy chord with me in how much I miss the show and the characters. I don't think the likes of it will be seen in television again.
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Location: Spokane, Washington

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