Saturday, November 18, 2006

Seinfeld - Nov. 18, 2006




Gone, but not forgotten

It’s been more than eight years since the Seinfeld gang said goodbye. But the show’s impact is still significant on the air– and on DVD.

By Eric Kohanik

Here’s a little something to makeus all feel a little older.

It has been eight years and six months – plus a handful of days – since NBC and Global aired the final original episode of Seinfeld.

It was Thursday, May 14, 1998. And although Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) and his offbeat pals – Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), George (Jason Alexander) and Kramer (Michael Richards) – officially “left” the air that night, they’ve been on TV ever since.

Ironically, Seinfeld was only on the air for eight years, which means the series has already been in syndicated reruns for longer than it spent as a primetime network fixture.

I’m reminded of all this because the seventh season of Seinfeld hits the DVD world on Tuesday, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. It’s a four-disc boxed set that includes all 24 episodes from that season.

Squabbles over money between Seinfeld and his co-stars had prevented the series from making a DVD debut until 2004. They have all made up for lost time since then. There are two seasons to go after this.

The seventh season was noteworthy on a lot of fronts. It started with the engagement of George and Susan (Heidi Swedberg) and ended with Susan succumbing to the effects of bad glue on envelopes.

The season’s episodes featured such classics as The Soup Nazi, The Sponge, The Rye, The Calzone and The Bottle Deposit. The mere mention of those episode titles easily brings smiles of recognition to Seinfeld fans.

In many ways, though, the seventh season had a big cultural impact. It popularized the phrase “No soup for you!” and it made such terms as “spongeworthy” and “Schmoopie” part of the popular lexicon of the day.

The season was the final one for executive producer Larry David, who then concocted Curb Your Enthusiasm. The season’s SoupNazi episode was written by Spike Feresten, now a Saturday-night talk-show host on Fox.

But the season also featured some onscreen guests who would later make an impact on the TV landscape. There was Jerry’s car-stealing mechanic, for instance. He was played by Brad Garrett, who would go on to star in Everybody Loves Raymond.

There was a guest stint by Debra Messing, playing an estranged wife on whom Jerry set his sights. Messing, of course, would later set her sights on Will & Grace.

And, of course, there was Elaine’s bitter rival, a “braless wonder” named Sue Ellen Mischke. She was played by Brenda Strong. Relatively unknown to viewers back then, Strong has now found a different niche –and plenty of fame – as Mary Alice Young, the narrator who guides viewers through each episode of Desperate Housewives.

So, even though Seinfeld is long gone, its impact is definitely not forgotten. And its influence is still felt in many ways.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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