Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 3, Episode 20 - The Good Samaritan

“The Good Samaritan”

First Script Read: Saturday, February 15, 1992
Filmed: Wednesday, February 19, 1992
Aired: 9:00 pm, Wednesday, March 4, 1992
Nielsen rating: 11.5 (Three subsequent weeks of re-runs received higher ratings)
Audience share: 18 (16 million)
Directed: Jason Alexander
Writer: Peter Mehlman
Awards: Directors Guild Awards nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series. (The award went to Tom Cherones for “The Contest.")

An episode after George developed a crush on a neo-Nazi, he finds himself contemplating an affair with a married woman, Robin, all because he said "God bless you" and noted her husband's failure to utter the phrase. He is conflicted, though not in the ways that might be expected. He is intimidated by the idea that he, timid George Costanza, could pull off the affair, but excited about the presumptive low cost of the endeavor:

GEORGE: Oh my God, an affair. That's so adult. It's like with stockings and martinis, and William Holden. On the other hand it probably wouldn't cost me any money.

After sleeping with the woman in his apartment, Robin consoles his guilt:
GEORGE: Oh my God. I must be crazy. What have I done?
ROBIN: Oh no, what's wrong?
GEORGE: What's wrong? I'll tell you what's wrong. I just committed adultery!
ROBIN: You didn't commit adultery, I did.
GEORGE: Oh yeah.
ROBIN: If I didn't do it with you, I would have done it with someone else.
GEORGE: Well, I wouldn't want you to do that. You know there's a lot of losers out there. [That line is SO Woody Allen.]
ROBIN: Maybe even someone who didn't say 'God bless you'.
GEORGE: Well, that's a given.
ROBIN: In three years with Michael, not one 'God bless you'.
GEORGE: Must be hell living in that house.

George is consoled, until he finds out from Elaine that Michael is suspicious and threatening violence. This sends George into a panic. Jerry, too, can tolerate his own conscience when he dates a hit-and-run perpetrator rather than turn her in, but he doesn't want Elaine to know about it. In this way, the characters are able to compartmentalize their unethical behavior, rationalizing away the moral ambiguities to serve their individual desires (frequently sexual). In this episode, as it was throughout the series, it is Jerry and George who deny their moral obligation to society in order to pursue sex, while Elaine and Kramer serve as the moral authorities, the voices who force Jerry and George to confront their own consciences.

Unfortunately, Elaine and Kramer are ignored. George goes through with the affair and risks the wrath of the husband. Jerry only confronts Angela, his new girlfriend, when he learns the car she hit belongs to a beautiful neighbor, Becky Gelke; he sees an opportunity to trade his immoral girlfriend for an apparently better option. This backfires. Angela threatens him with violence, and Becky Gelke suspects Jerry is the one who hit her car but is too embarrassed to admit it. The relatively good Samaritan, Kramer, ends up getting a date with her.

As the series progressed, Elaine's behavior began to match that of Jerry and George. In this episode Jerry jumps on an example of her own dishonesty, teasing her mercilessly when he hears from George that she made up a story about dating a Spanish matador. Even Kramer does not have a blameless record of morality. In Seinfeld as in The Psalms "Everyone has turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one."

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