Monday, August 6, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 6, Episode 9 - The Secretary

“The Secretary”

First Script Read: November 2, 1994
Filmed: November 9, 1994
Aired: December 8, 1994
Nielsen rating: 20.7
Audience share: 31
Directed: David Owen Trainor
Writers: Carol Leifer and Marjorie Gross

By the midpoint of season six, Seinfeld was more frequently putting its characters into wacky circumstances rather than have them extract humor from normal circumstances. If you watch the documentary featurettes sprinkled throughout the DVDs, Jason Alexander notes this shift. I used to think he was over-reacting but as I re-watch the series this time I am seeing it. Check out the funny stuff in this episode, broken down into two categories:

Humor of the Ordinary  
-George passes on attractive secretaries, realizing he'll be happier with an efficient, homely secretary over one who is physically beautiful yet maddeningly unattainable for him.
-Blaming skinny store mirrors, Elaine regrets buying a dress that, once she leaves the store, she finds she doesn't like.
-Kramer likes moisturizer even though it is supposedly a "feminine" product.
-Elaine talks loudly about the ending of a movie as she and Jerry leave the theater, spoiling the plot for those waiting in line.

Humor of the Zany  
-Kramer gets Uma Thurman's phone number but loses it when his moisturizer blurs out the numbers, foiling his chance at a date with the movie star.
-Jerry's dry cleaner and his wife wear their customer's clothes.
-George sleeps with his secretary, Ada, because he is turned on by her efficiency.
-George blurts out "I'm giving you a raise!" to Ada during sex. When he follows through on this promise, she starts earning more than he does.
-Kramer sells Bania the clothes he is wearing, concluding the deal in a department store women's change room. He finds himself with no clothes and is eventually forced to wear nothing but his underwear and Jerry's mother's fur coat home through the winter streets of New York.
-Elaine wears a dress she is trying on out into the streets to look for a "non-partisan" mirror. She doesn't like the dress, but is forced to buy it because she got salt stains on it.
-George meets with George Steinbrenner twice about his secretary's salary. Other than the scene when he hired George at the end of season five, these are the first appearances of Steinbrenner. These almost always end with George wandering out of The Boss's office even while Steinbrenner is still ranting nonsense.

As ridiculous as early Seinfeld could be, most of the stories remained rooted in the ordinary because they were frequently based on real things that happened to Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, and the other writers. This was still true for some stories. Writer Tom Gammill really did buy a LaBaron because the salesman convinced him it once belonged to Jon Voight; in fact, they used that car in the episode, "The Mom and Pop Store." As zany as that story is, it still feels possible because it really did happen. What DIDN'T really happen was a run in with the real Jon Voight, or an attempt to match a pencil from the car's glove compartment with the bite marks Jon Voight left at that run-in. Seinfeld didn't get less funny after season five, but it did start to move away from reality.

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