Saturday, April 21, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 3, Episode 14 - The Pez Dispenser


“The Pez Dispenser”

First Script Read: December 14, 1991
Filmed: December 17, 1991
Aired: January 15, 1992
Nielsen rating: 13.0
Audience share: 20 (19.18 million viewers)
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Larry David

This episode features the worst drug intervention ever staged on network television. It's the bizarro version of "Jessie's Song," the episode of Saved by the Bell (debuted November 3, 1990) when Jessie got so excited and so scared after getting hooked on caffeine pills. This time the addict, Richie, is another one of Jerry's loose acquaintances, a comedian friend who has been working in Los Angeles and who Jerry has spoken to in a couple years. Another loose acquaintance, John Mollica, who used to bartend at the Comedy Club, runs into Elaine and tells her the bad news:

JOHN MOLLICA: He's kind of messed up. On drugs.

Uh oh. Drugs are one of the worst things to be messed up on! Elaine suggests the intervention idea, which John likes, although he says Jerry would have to be involved because Richie always respected Jerry. Smash-cut to Jerry playing with his Tweety Bird Pez dispenser at George's girlfriend's piano recital. Jerry's childishness has already caused Elaine to have a laughing fit, making her leave the recital, and making George's girlfriend, Noel, furious, although she didn't see who was laughing.

Later, John calls up Jerry and talks him into not only attending the intervention, but hosting it:

JERRY: Are you sure you want me, John? I haven't spoken to Richie in two years. I don't have a good apartment for an intervention. The furniture, it's very non-confrontational. All right, all right.

Jerry is not enthusiastic about the intervention at all. Kramer is actually more interested. "Can I get in on that?" he eagerly asks Jerry. He knew Richie, too, because they all played on the Comedy Club softball team together. But Kramer's relationship to Richie is possibly tied to his drug use:

JERRY: You know I think Kramer might have been responsible for getting Richie involved with drugs in the first place.
ELAINE: What? How?
JERRY: A few years ago the comedy club had a softball team. Kramer was our first baseman. You couldn't get anything by him. It was unbelievable. Anyway this one game we came back to win from like eight runs behind. So Kramer says to Richie, why don't you dump the bucket of Gatorade on Marty Benson's head? The club owner. So Richie goes ahead and does it.
ELAINE: So? What happened?
JERRY: What happened? The guy was like 67 years old. It was freezing out. He caught a cold, got pneumonia, and a month later he was dead.
ELAINE: Shut up!
JERRY: All the comedians were happy. He was one of these club owners nobody liked anyway. But Richie was never the same.

Finally the big day arrives. Everyone gathers at Jerry's apartment. But no one seems to know what they are doing. John is sort of in charge, but he is busy stuffing his bloody nose with tissues and trying to ask Elaine out. Another unnamed intervenor is angry because Jerry doesn't have any ice for his soda. Kramer arrives and begins arguing with another intervenor, Steve D'Giff, a Calvin Klein executive who dismissed his idea of making a cologne that smells like the beach. Moments later, Kramer's Polar Bear Club friends stroll in and join the crowd. The buzzer sounds and Elaine shouts, "Hide!" Everyone runs around, but it is only George and Noel. George is happy. For the moment, he has "hand" in his relationship thanks to Kramer's idea of a preemptive break-up. It doesn't last. One of the Polar Bear Club members tells Elaine a joke. Noel recognizes her laugh from the recital. She breaks up with George and storm out, just as Richie arrives to meet the unprepared group.

The rest of the intervention unfolds off camera, but Jerry describes it to George later:

JERRY: It was pretty ugly from the get go. He's not listening, He's hostile. He's talking back.
GEORGE: I can't do these [crossword] puzzles.
JERRY: So he starts to get up. He spots the Pez dispenser on the coffee table.
GEORGE: Aha, Pez dispenser.
JERRY: He picks it up. He stares at it. It's like he's hypnotized by it. Then he's
telling us this story about how when he was a kid he was in the car with his father, and
his father was trying to load one of them.
GEORGE: Well they're hard to load.
JERRY: Tell me something I don't know. So as the father's trying to load it he loses control of the car and it crashes into a high school cafeteria. Nobody's hurt but Pez is all over the car. And the dispenser was destroyed virtually beyond recognition.
GEORGE: Poor kid.
JERRY: So as he's telling the story he starts crying.
GEORGE: What did you do?
JERRY: What do you think? I gave him my Pez dispenser.
GEORGE: Wow
JERRY: Two hours later he checks into Smithers Clinic. I talked to the doctor yesterday. He's doing great on the rehab. He's hooked on Pez! He's eating them like there's no tomorrow!

The intervention itself was a failure. As usual in Seinfeld there is little therapeutic value in relationships. Richie recalls and confronts his own memories not through the help of friends, but through the Pez dispenser.

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