Friday, April 13, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 3, Episode 3 - The Pen

“The Pen”

First Script Read:  Friday, September 13, 1991
Filmed: Tuesday, September 17, 1991
Aired: October 2, 1991
Nielsen rating: 11.1 (The first NBC rebroadcast the following April actually got higher ratings)
Audience share: 17
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Larry David

I discuss this episode at length in my post on season 3, episode 5 - "The Library."

Thematically, this episode delves deeper into Seinfeld's interest in the culture of the senior generation first explored in "The Pony Remark" back in season 2. This time Jerry and Elaine are completely immersed in the world of Jerry's parents, and it drives them nuts. Physically, as they struggle in the oppressive heat of Jerry's parent's condo, they are both beaten up. Elaine injures her back sleeping on and old pull-out sofa. Jerry bursts the capillaries around his eyes when he tries scuba diving.

Elaine is also mentally overwhelmed just observing the petty interactions of Jerry's parents with their neighbors. Jerry is sucked up into the madness when he accepts Jack Klompus's offer to take his fancy space pen that writes upside down. Old people talk, and news of the exchange spreads like wildfire. Jerry decides to give the pen back, which infuriates his father, Morty, setting up a climactic confrontation with Jack at the dinner honoring Morty, which Jack just so happens to be emceeing. Uncle Leo also makes his second appearance to add to the chaos.

The community where the Seinfelds live, the Pines of Mar Gables, operates on an oppressive sort of social behavior. The residents are cheap, petty, gossipy, temperamental, and unforgiving. Actually, it sounds a lot like the Seinfeld universe back in New York City. But in this case, the pettiness is not Jerry's own. Rather, he observes it and cannot escape it. Nor can he commiserate about it with his friends. George and Kramer are back in New York. Elaine is too overwhelmed to offer much solace, even when Jerry seeks to talk about Jack's behavior with her late at night, after his parents are asleep. At the Pines of Mar Gables, Jerry may be witnessing his future. But, though he doesn't realize it, he is also looking at his present.

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