Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 8, Episode 18 - The Nap

“The Nap”

First Script Read: February 16, 1997
Filmed: February 16-18, 1997
Aired: April 10, 1997
Nielsen rating: 21.1
Audience share: 33
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writers: Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin

This episode is really funny but EXTREMELY absurd. Seinfeld had dabbled in the improbable before, but in this episode the unbelievable elements keep piling on top of each other. Some could argue convincingly it happened earlier, but if Seinfeld jumped the shark, this is the episode. Here's a run-down of the absurdity:

-George makes plans to have his desk re-modeled so he can take naps underneath it at work
-George begins napping away the entire work day. When his nap is done, he grabs his coat and heads home. No one confronts him about his work.
-Kramer begins swimming laps in the East River. He likes it even though he begins to smell like the East River.
-Steinbrenner sits in George's office for three and a half hours waiting for George, who is napping under the desk.
-About half a dozen of Steinbrenner's grandchildren find their grandfather in George's office and begin playing.
-George, afraid of getting caught by Steinbrenner, calls Jerry from his phone under his desk and asks Jerry to call in a bomb threat so Steinbrenner will evacuate.
-When the bomb threat is announced, Steinbrenner tells all of his grandchildren to hide under the desk rather than leave the building.
-Instead of being angry with George, Steinbrenner thinks George had ESP and had been hiding under his desk all afternoon, somehow knowing the bomb threat would be called in.
-Steinbrenner decides he will negotiate with the mad bomber and asks George to see that the bomber's (Jerry's) demands for a fitted hat day are met.
-Jerry's carpenter remodels Jerry's kitchen so it is filled with cabinets. There is barely any space to move, see, or talk.
-At George's request, Jerry as the mad bomber calls Steinbrenner back and changes his demand from fitted ht day to a service that calls season ticket holders ahead of time if there is a rain out. Steinbrenner again puts George on the job.
-George resumes his under-the-desk napping routine.
-Steinbrenner comes into George's office to look for George but hears George's ticking alarm clock in his space under the desk. Steinbrenner thinks it is a bomb and runs out of the office screaming.
-Elaine's mattress, which was given to her by her boyfriend who works at a mattress store, now smells like the East River because Kramer used it. She injures her back trying to move the mattress. It falls on her and traps her.
-Word of Kramer's East River lap swimming idea spreads and soon his swimming area is crowded with people. One older gentlemen jumps into the water and Kramer watches as he sinks "like a stone!" This tragedy is never dealt with or mentioned again.
-Steinbrenner calls in the bomb squad which sends in a robot to George's office to chainsaw the desk.
-To George's disappointment, Steinbrenner announces that to prevent future bomb threats he's going to take out all the desks and replace them with four-legged tables.
-Kramer runs into Elaine swimming in the East River to help her back.
-Jerry's apartment is back to normal. In the final scene he opens a small upper cabinet to reveal George sleeping inside.

You could argue that a premise like the existence of the doppelgangers in "The Bizarro Jerry." However, that craziness worked in the service of a multi-layered joke. "The Bizarro Jerry" is both silly and clever. There's nothing clever in "The Nap." Steinbrenner crosses over from comically irrational boss to cartoonishly irrational boss. The difference isn't vast but it is noticeable. Kramer's idea of swimming in the East River could be acceptable because he is known to be an eccentric. But ultimately the least eccentric character, Elaine, joins him in the muck. Crazy becomes normal. All bets are off.

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