“The Hot Tub”
First Script Read: Friday, Septmber 15, 1995
Filmed: Wednesday, September 20, 1995
Aired: October 19, 1995
Nielsen rating: 21.3
Audience share: 33
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writers: Gregg Kavet & Andy Robin
In the final third of its nine year run Seinfeld leans more heavily on zany, interrelated stories than witty social observation. As I re-watch these episodes for the umpteenth time, but do so with a more critical gaze, I still find the later years funnier. However, I'm also noticing how much the show's own critical gaze on the world faded in the later years, morphing into an ironic, self-deprecating view of itself. In other words the characters spend less time making fun of the world around them and more time making fun of each other.
This episode is a fantastic tale with multiple storylines crashing together at the end in typical Seinfeld fashion. Elaine is hosting Jean-Paul Jean-Paul, a marathon runner from Trinidad and Tobago who famously (in the Seinfeld universe) overslept and missed his Olympic race. Jerry questions Elaine's ability to wake Jean-Paul up in time until he convinces Jean-Paul to put his wake-up in Jerry's care.
Besides dealing with Jerry's pestering about her wake-up abilities, Elaine is struggling to come up with a Peterman Catalog entry for a the Himalayan Walking Boot. Only a late night of wandering the streets looking for Jean-Paul, who Jerry has taken into his care, gives Elaine an idea for the description.
George's boss, Wilhelm, rewards George for his hard work (George has perfected the art of looking annoyed to give the appearance of busyness) with the task of showing representatives from the Houston Astros a good time in New York City. George adopts their way of talking, using "son of a bitch" and "bastard" as friendly nicknames for each other. This gets him into trouble eventually when Wilhelm overhears George talking to his new Houston friends on the phone.
Finally, Kramer installs a hot-tub with a powerful heater in his apartment which eventually blows a fuse, killing the power in the building and leading Jean-Paul and Jerry to oversleep. Jean-Paul almost overcomes all these distractions to win the New York City marathon, but on the final stretch he mistakes Kramer's scalding cup of coffee for a cup of water and burns himself. Like many others, Jean-Paul is poorer for having encountered this quartet.