Saturday, June 2, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 5, Episode 3 - The Glasses


“The Glasses”

First Script Read: August 18, 1993
Filmed: August 24, 1993
Aired: 9:00pm, September 30, 1993
Nielsen rating: 19.2
Audience share: 30
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Tom Gammill and Max Pross (This is the first of 13 episodes credited to this pair, who worked as consulting producers during seasons 4-8)

Enter Tom Gammill and Max Pross. This pair worked as consulting producers and wrote many of the best episodes of the show while Seinfeld was at the height of its powers. In the 1980s, the duo cut their teeth writing for Saturday Night Live  and Late Night with David Letterman. After Seinfeld, the pair hooked up with Matt Groening and friends to work on Futurama before moving on to The Simpsons. So these guys contributed to four of the greatest and most significant comedy television shows of the end of the 20th century. 

Their first Seinfeld is a classic, treating us to George in his bathing suit dragging a blind man in his underwear out of the health club and into the street, George buying women's frames for his new glasses, and this famous line:

JERRY: I don't know what to believe! You're eating onions, you're spotting dimes. I don't know what the hell is going on!

That line has been kept alive by my beloved Bill Simmons, who uses it to refer to an athlete who can look breathtakingly brilliant in one moment and shockingly awful the next. In this episode it describes George's squinting ability. He thinks he has squinted out Jerry's girlfriend making out with Jerry's horse-faced cousin (Uncle Leo's son), Jeffrey. Ultimately, it turns out George was squinting at a policewoman kissing her horse.

Another line resonated in my life long after this episode aired. My college roommate Assad used to love exclaiming Jerry's repeated line, "Want to get some pizza?" to his girlfriend whenever she was annoyed at him. He always did it when I was in earshot, knowing I'd burst out laughing. In this episode, Jerry uses it as a clumsy attempt to change the subject after his accusations to his girlfriend are denied.

But on this most recent viewing, my favorite line, and one that I actually rewinded to watch again, came when Kramer requested a snack from the women's glasses-wearing George. Michael Richards delivers the line with exaggerated formality. It comes out of nowhere, returning attention to George's glasses after the comedy had moved from Kramer's "installation" of Jerry's new air conditioner (he merely drops it on the window sill and drops the window blinds down, as if they would hold it in place) to Elaine's rising hysterics over her possible rabies. Then, BOOM, Kramer points to the bag of pretzels and zings George with this:

KRAMER: “May I have one of those, madam?”

The line is pretty vanilla on your screen, isn't it? Within the flow of the show it's hilarious. There is perfection in the timing of Kramer's delivery and George's reaction. But there is a different sort of timing to the scene embedded in the writing of Gammill and Pross. The comedy is swirling around a number of humorous situations, zipping from one to the other.

Season five was the perfect moment for Gammill and Pross to arrive on Seinfeld. This episode picked up the pace of the show, but the show's comedy had been speeding up for a while. Also becoming typical of the show, this episode also interweaves the story lines of each character. Gammill and Pross dove into the rising insanity of Seinfeld and found themselves right at home.

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