Thursday, July 19, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 5, Episode 15 - The Pie

First Script Read:  Thursday, January 13, 1994
Filmed: Tuesday, February 8, 1994 (4 weeks after the script was finished because of the L.A. earthquake. Seinfeld almost departed CBS Studios for Paramount but CBS Studios' crew worked around the clock to repair the damage.)
Aired: 9:00pm, February 17, 1994
Nielsen rating: 16.5
Audience share: 23
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Tom Gammill and Max Pross

This is the Elaine mannequin episode. That mannequin still cracks me up every time I see it. I love when Jerry is driving Elaine and the Elaine mannequin around and Julia Louis-Dreyfus pulls off the exact same facial expression painted on the mannequin. Kramer making out with the mannequin is also brilliant. (See the DVD blooper reel for another minute or so of Michael Richards and the mannequin going at it in the car.)

Elaine makes a huge fuss at the clothing store about the mannequin, but this episode is really about why people DON'T speak up. Tom Gammill and Max Pross got the idea for this episode from an incident that happened to the real Jerry Seinfeld. In the opening scene of the show, Jerry's girlfriend, Audrey, refuses pie without offering an explanation other then wordlessly shaking her head. One of Seinfeld's dates perplexed the comedian with similar behavior, and so Gammill and Pross set out to solve, through their writing, why she might have refused the pie. They never quite get to the bottom of Audrey's behavior, but Jerry and George find themselves in two different circumstances leading them to turn down pie without explanation.

Audrey takes Jerry to her father's restaurant, Poppie's. Jerry, still pestering Audrey for answers on the apple pie refusal, goes to the restaurant bathroom. There he runs into Poppie coming out of one of the stalls. Poppie promises Jerry he will cook their dinner himself, but then leaves the restroom without washing his hands. Disgusted and shocked, Jerry floats back to Audrey in a daze. She questions him on his mood, but Jerry, revolted by the sight of Poppie kneading dough with his unwashed hands, can't bear to tell Audrey about her father's lack of hygiene. Later, Poppie serves them a pizza pie, but Jerry refuses to taste it, offending father and daughter without explaination. Later, George questions him:
GEORGE: Why didn't you just tell her?
JERRY: I don't think that's the kind of thing you want to hear about your father. But I'll tell you, when he came out of that bathroom and he was kneading that dough, it was a wild scene.

Jerry, never one to go to extreme lengths to save a relationship, doesn't want to create a disturbance in Audrey's relationship with her father. He lets things slide, both his relationship with Audrey and her father's dirty secret. Later Kramer tells Jerry he saw Audrey eating apple pie at Monk's. His curiosity piqued again, Jerry confronts her at Poppie's. They are interrupted by a health inspector who busts Poppie. While Audrey learns about her father's "problem," Jerry never gets his answers.

George gets a sweet deal on a new suit at the store with the Elaine mannequin. He hides the suit for a couple days while he waits for an unadvertised sale, thwarting another size 40-short guy who wanted the suit. George wears the new suit to a job interview with an intense businessman named MacKenzie along with two of his employees. The interview goes well. George even admits to MacKenzie he was concerned that the swooshing noise his suit made might hurt his chances at the job. After they eat, the waiter brings out a piece of apple pie, compliments of the chef who, according to the waiter's mysterious explanation, made it especially for George. Baffled, George looks around and spots the chef. It's the guy he hoodwinked out of the suit. George, perhaps too embarrassed to go into the details of his feud with the chef, refuses to taste the pie without giving the other men an explanation. They take his failure to taste the dessert a sign that he isn't a team player. George doesn't get the job, but as he tells Jerry, "I was the only one at the table that didn't get violently ill."

Both George and Jerry COULD have told the truth and explained their refusal to have a bite of pie. In the moment, both chose to avoid an awkward conversation. In the long run, there were even worse consequences for both men because they didn't speak up. We can blame their lack of courage, but we can also understand how strong the instinct to avoid awkwardness can be.

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