Seinfeld - Season 9
Seinfeld's final season seems to take its cue from a little piece of "showmanship" advice that Jerry offers to the hapless George (Jason Alexander) in the episode "The Burning": "When you hit that high note, say goodnight and walk off." In television, as in comedy, timing is everything, and that's what Seinfeld, No. 1 in the ratings, did. The show that TV Guide would later rank the greatest of all time, left the stage, perhaps not at the top of its game, but at least on its own terms. To the end, Jerry, George, Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards) remain true to the show's misanthropic muse. In the episode "The Merv Griffin Show," Jerry induces sleep in his new girlfriend so he can have his way with her retro toy collection. In "The Apology," George relentlessly badgers an old acquaintance (James Spader) now in AA, for a Step Nine apology over a long-ago insult. At one point, Elaine resumes her on again-off again relationship with Puddy (Patrick Warburton) because she needs a bureau moved. In the end, it all comes crumbling down for the so-called "New York Four" when they are put on trial in a Massachusetts courtroom for violating a Good Samaritan Law after not coming to the aid of an obese carjack victim. A parade of lack-of-character witnesses spanning the series' near-decade-long run, from Mabel Choate, the Marble Rye Lady, to Babu and the Soup Nazi testify how they were "abused, wronged, deceived, and betrayed" by Jerry and company. Anyone expecting Seinfeld or Larry David to apologize for this bitter, and not at all sweet, finale, can just stuff those sorrys in a sack, mister. In "The Last Lap," a bonus featurette about Seinfeld's decision to end the series despite unprecedented offers from NBC brass to continue, they acknowledge the episode's "mixed reaction," but remain defiant. As Alexander notes, nothing could have lived up to the massive hype the episode received.
Seinfeld's ninth does not quite leave audiences wanting more. While there are several great episodes, including "The Butter Shave," "The Betrayal," "The Cartoon," and "The Maid," the season is loaded with what George might call "gaffes," including a series nadir, "Puerto Rican Day," which in these PC times, drew enough protest to hinder its rebroadcast. The writing this season is more outrageous (see "The Merv Griffin Show," in which Kramer salvages a discarded talk-show set and installs it in his apartment), but there are enough inspired bits...
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