Monday, November 19, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 8, Episode 17 - The English Patient

"The English Patient"

Filmed: Thursday, February 11, 1997
Aired: March 13, 1997
Nielsen rating: 21.6
Audience share: 33
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writer: Steve Koren

One of the best qualities of Seinfeld that is seen much less often after Larry David left was the show's ability to use simple scenarios to comment on the complexities of American society. This is a hilarious episode, but I've been staring at my notes for fifteen minutes and I can't come up with anything interesting to say about it. It's easier to find those nuggets of insight into the human behavior during the Larry David era. This episode is about human behavior, but in very simple ways.

Elaine runs into trouble because she hates The English Patient. Her boyfriend decides he can't be with someone who doesn't like the film, and her boss, Peterman, fires her when she admits she doesn't like it. (She gets her job back at the end of the episode by flying to Tunisia to be inspired by the desert). Elaine's story is about feeling isolated when you don't like something that most other people do.

George runs into a beautiful woman who mistakes him for her boyfriend, Neil. Amazed that someone who looks like him could get such a striking beauty, George investigates Neil. Accidentally, he ends up earning the woman's affections. However, Neil fights back and eventually George loses the fight. George's story is about a woman with a surprising taste in men.

Jerry gives his dad a t-shirt that says "#1 DAD" on it, prompting a feud with the Mandelbaum family (including Izzy, played by Lloyd Bridges). The Mandelbaums try to out-do Jerry by lifting heavy objects. They all fail and end up in the hospital with bad backs. Jerry's story is about the silliness of competitiveness.

Kramer imports three Cuban men to roll cigars, trying to start a legal Cuban cigar business. His partner, Earl Haffler (last seen in season six's The Diplomat's Club), discovers the men are actually Dominicans and bails on the deal. Kramer finds them a job rolling crepes for the Mandelbaum's family business while the Mandelbaums are recuperating. It all backfires when the Domincans roll the crepes too tightly, causing them to squirt their hot contents into the faces of customers. Kramer's story is about...I's just a silly pun about Cuban cigars.

The conclusions intertwine in a Larry David-like fashion. In a clever parallel to the plot of The English Patient, Neil gets burned by the tightly-rolled crepes, and his resulting injuries earn him the sympathy from his girlfriend that beats out George. Angered by their treatment, the Dominicans end up hijacking Elaine's flight to Tunisia, turning off the in-flight film she is excited about seeing, Sack Lunch. Ultimately though, the episode, while enjoyable, doesn't have anything to say.

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