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One of the cleverest TV shows ever made now in one boxed set
on August 25, 2007
To me, Seinfeld can basically be broken into three parts - seasons one and two where the series is just finding itself, seasons three through seven in which absolutely everything clicks due to the cast's great on-screen rapport and the genius of Larry David, and the last two seasons after Larry David's departure in which the focus shifted somewhat from a satirical look at the uglier side of human nature to zany comedy. Usually every episode was a stand-alone. In fact, some of the early episodes are so stand-alone as to have the audience wonder what happened. In season two's "The Deal", Elaine and Jerry decide to try combining their current friendship ("this") with their past by sleeping together ("that"). As George portends though, it is pretty much impossible to mix "this and that" without eventually losing both. The end of the episode shows Jerry and Elaine pretty much settling into "this that and the other" - a romantic relationship - and then the series just drops the subject like the whole episode never happened.
Occasionally Seinfeld would have a story arc of sorts. For example, in season four the show poked fun at network television executives and their decision-making process when George and Jerry wind up pitching the idea for "a TV show about nothing" to NBC. The two offer up what is essentially the script of the widely acclaimed Seinfeld episode "The Chinese Restaurant". The network suits are unimpressed. As an alternative George and Jerry present a ridiculous plot in which a judge sentences someone who has hit Jerry's car to be his butler. This time the suits are bowled over. Seinfeld also truly had a gift for entertaining while pushing the audience to the brink of offense. "The Bubble Boy" presents the audience with a rude and obnoxious individual as the victim of an immune deficiency disease versus the patient angels that usually play this role. "The Outing" introduced the phrase "not that there's anything wrong with that" into American pop culture and also smartly satirized political correctness. "The Junior Mint" shows George in familiar form when he pleads with Jerry not to intervene to save an artist's life because it would devalue the artist's paintings he has purchased in anticipation of that same artist's death.
The show is often absurd, and though it seems impossible that such a group of self-absorbed people could carry on even the pretense of a multi-year friendship, something about it is oddly familiar to most of us. That is at least partly because of the great interaction between the main characters in which they have both comic and straight-man duties depending on the situation, making their relationships seem real although exaggerated.
As far as the details on the set, it is a 32-disc, two-volume set offering all 180 episodes of the show along with "The Official Coffee Table Book," a 226-page, bound anthology filled with photos, quotes, trivia from every episode, and personal reflections from Jerry. The collectible book also includes a bonus disc featuring "The Roundtable," an hour-long round table discussion among the four cast and creator Larry David reminiscing about the award-winning show's run on air.