Friday, November 2, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 8, Episode 14 - The Van Buren Boys

“The Van Buren Boys”

First Script Read: Thursday, January 9, 1997
Filmed: Tuesday, January 14, 1997
Aired: February 6, 197
Nielsen rating: 22.2
Audience share: 34
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writer: Darin Henry (A former writer’s assistant, this is his first and only script, though he was also co-credited with the stories for season nine’s “The Slicer” and “The Bookstore,” as well as the clip show, “The Chronicle.”)

I can almost copy and paste these recaps for season eight. Once again a character resembles George in negative and comical ways. George is put in charge of interviewing candidates for a scholarship being given out by the Susan Ross Foundation. He rejects all the overachievers before finding a student who tries to escape a question about his favorite chess player by muttering an unintelligible name under his breath, as George himself has been known to do. When George discovers the boy, Steven, is interested in being an architect, he knows he has found a deserving student.

However, he is betrayed when Steven admits to the foundation's board that he's setting his heights higher than architecture; he'd really like to be a city planner. George denies Steven the scholarship. Steven ends up with the infamous (and absurd) Van Buren Boys, a gang dedicated to the memory of the eighth President. (Other than being the first President from New York, I'm not sure what the significance of Martin Van Buren could be for Seinfeld.) George has a run in with Steven's new friends which ends violently.

Meanwhile, Jerry has a new girlfriend, Ellen (played by Christine Taylor). As far as Jerry can tell (and the audience) Ellen is beautiful, charming, and perfect in every way. Jerry is confused, then, when Ellen's friends thank him for dating her as though she were a charity case. He's even more perplexed when Kramer and George tell him he's dating a loser.

JERRY: There is no way Ellen is the loser of that group.
GEORGE: Are you looking deep down at the real person underneath?
JERRY: No, I'm being as superficial as I possibly can!

Other than the attitudes of her friends, George, and Kramer, there is absolutely no evidence Ellen is undesirable. Jerry keeps looking for a problem but he can't find one. Finally, he introduces her to his parents. He's reassured when they tell him they like her, but the more they gush about her the more troubled he becomes until finally their complements about her convince him there really IS something wrong with her:
JERRY: So? What do you think?
HELEN: Jerry, she's fantastic!
JERRY: I knew it! I'm not crazy.
HELEN: She's so sweet. And she's got some body on her!
MORTY: And smart! Like a computer!
HELEN: And so much personality! But it doesn't matter what we think. Do you like her?
JERRY: ... Now, I'm not so sure.
HELEN: Well, she's ten times better than that awful Amber girl that you were with.
JERRY: Yeah, Amber... I wonder if she's back from Vegas...

And thus, Jerry's superficiality has reached a new low. He can't even see the fault in Ellen, but dismisses her solely based on the comments of other people.

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