Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 5, Episode 18 - The Raincoats

“The Raincoats”

First Script Read: ??
Filmed: March 22-23, 1994
Aired: 9:00pm, April 28, 1994
Nielsen rating: ??
Audience share:??
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writers: Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Larry David, and Jerry Seinfeld

This hour-long episode weaves through several classic story lines. Judge Reinhold guest stars as Aaron, Elaine's close talking boyfriend who goes WAY out of his way to make sure Jerry's parents have a good time in New York City. Reinhold got a deserved Emmy nomination for his over-the-top earnestness. Very few scenes were stolen from the Seinfeld regulars over the years, but I would argue Aaron's close talking scenes, as well as his final Schindler's List parody scene - "...This ring! This ring is one more dinner I could've taken them out to! ..." - are high in the running for best moments a guest actor had on Seinfeld. Only Teri Hatcher's "They're real, and they're spectacular!" comes to mind as a challenger in that category.

But I'll leave J. Reinhold to his court because there is more hilarity to discuss. Morty Seinfeld and Kramer launch an ill-fated venture to sell Morty's old beltless trenchcoats to a vintage clothing store. Jerry is forced into celibacy by his parents' extended stay and the fact that his girlfriend, Rachel, lives with her parents. Thus, the two take advantage of the length of Schindler's List to make out for a couple hours, much to fellow moviegoer Newman's disgust. George, anticipating Larry David's behavior in season eight of Curb Your Enthusiasm, tries to get out of volunteering for a "Big Brother" program by claiming he is going to Paris. And George's parents, after repeated dinner invitations are scorned by the Seinfelds, realize Morty and Helen don't like them. There isn't much room left for Elaine, who plays the "straight woman" to Reinhold's performance, baffled by the attention he lavishes on the senior Seinfelds.

The generational rift between Jerry and George and their respective parents grows wider in this episode. Jerry cannot wait for his parents to leave so his life can get back to normal, i.e. so he can have regular sex. George, ever the prodigal son, pretends his father is dead in order to make a quick buck selling his old clothes from the attic:
GEORGE: I guess I've been hanging on to them for so long 'cause I couldn't accept the fact that Dad was really gone forever.
GEORGE: They will get a good home won't they?
RUDY: Look, I gotta be honest with you. There's nothing here too spectacular.
GEORGE: Oh I beg to differ. My father took great pride in his appearance. He was a very handsome man. A Casanova really.
RUDY: I'll give you 200 dollars for the three boxes.
GEORGE: Could you make it 225? That was his high game in bowling.

George's relationship with his parents hinges on the fact that he is bound to them by blood. He feels a responsibility to them. He'll move out at the end of the episode, but, as crazy as they are, he can't shake that connection. He might love them on some deeper level, but he certainly doesn't like them. Jerry is kinder to his parents, but ultimately his relationship with them is also purely based on blood. Typical of his character, he goes through the motions which he believes a good son is expected to go through. He will let his parents stay with him when they are in New York. He won't ask them for extra space while they are in town. He will help his father with his crazy trenchcoat scheme. He'll do all the things that make his parents declare him to be such a good son, but he'll do them more out of responsibility than genuine fondness.

Family relationships are nowhere near as intimate as the relationships between friends in Seinfeld. Families are more a responsibility than a blessing. Families are more likely to create problems than to help solve problems. This is perhaps the most important distinction between Seinfeld and the traditional sitcom.

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