Wednesday, November 28, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 8, Episode 20 - The Millennium

“The Millenium”

First Script Read: Wednesday, March 5, 1997
Filmed: Tuesday, March 11, 1997
Aired: May 1, 1997
Nielsen rating: 20.3
Audience share: 31
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writer: Jennifer Crittenden

I was listening to a Warren Littlefield interview the other day, a few weeks after finishing his book, Top of the Rock, about NBC in the 1990s. Talking about the early years of Seinfeld he noted how the show began as a show about nothing until Larry David "discovered" the fun of colliding multiple storylines together. (This moment happened around the middle of season two, when the busboy ran into Elaine's boyfriend in Jerry's hallway.) I've talked about the frequently interweaving plotlines in Seinfeld before, but I haven't yet noted the regularity of stories related to scheming and hijinks. Of course, Kramer is always coming up with a business idea or an invention; it's part of his typical behavior. The scheming I'm referring to is the planning and manipulation Seinfeld's characters use either to steer events or people in a favorable direction or get back at people who have wronged them. "The Millennium" has a lot of this kind of scheming.

Kramer and Newman discover they are plotting rival parties for the millennium New Year (which is, amusingly, still two and a half years away at the time of this story. Newman wants a Jerry-free Millennium, but in a compromise with Kramer he accepts Jerry as part of his scheme to secure the attendance of Elaine, his not-so-secret love.

Elaine, meanwhile, is out for revenge against Pudemayo, a South American-themed clothing store. She was unhappy with the service she got from the owner. She buys a bunch of clothes from another store, Cinqo de Mayo, before she realizes they are owned by the same person. Then she gets Kramer involved in a scheme to change the price tags on all the clothes. Kramer fails in this mission but succeeds in taking all the desiccants out of the clothes. Kramer insists the clothes won't last five years without them, but Elaine is unimpressed. Unbeknownst to both of them, Kramer accidentally drops a desiccant in the store's free salsa bowl, poisoning the customers and, perhaps, giving Elaine the revenge she seeks.

Jerry gets caught up in the schemes of his girlfriend Valerie's stepmother to secure the top spot on her speed dial. Her scheming is discovered and Valerie takes her stepmother off the speed dial completely. But Valerie gets mad at Jerry when he discovers her stepmother hid him in her "poison control" speed dial slot.

Finally, after getting a job offer from the Mets, George schemes to get fired in a spectacular fashion. But from his desecration of Yankee trophies to his body suit streak across the field, George repeatedly fails in his efforts. Finally, he incurs the wrath of Steinbrenner, but at the last moment, his boss, Mr. Wilhelm, takes the fall; he's interested in the Mets job too.

Their schemes almost never work, but their failings are a key ingredient in the recipe for humor, in Seinfeld as well as many other comedies before and since.

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