“The Merv Griffin Show”
First Script Read: October 9, 1997
Filmed: October 15, 1997
Aired: November 6, 1997
Nielsen rating: 21.4
Audience share: 32
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writer: Bruce Eric Kaplan (This is the first of three Seinfeld scripts written by Kaplan, a well-known cartoonist for The New Yorker. The other two are The Cartoon and The Puerto Rican Day. Kaplan went on to write and produce episodes of Six Feet Under and Girls.)
Kramer finds the set from the old Merv Griffin Show in a dumpster on the street. He lugs all the pieces back to his apartment and starts acting as though he is the host of a talk show. Eventually, the gang ends up sitting with him on the set, talking about their lives. So that's television characters talking about their fictional lives on an old set from a real television show. Kramer pretends they are on TV, though the other characters know they are NOT on TV...even though they really ARE on TV! That's some nice postmodernism.
Though they play along, Jerry, Elaine, and George roll their eyes at Kramer's enthusiasm for playing Merv Griffin. However, they are just as guilty at getting caught up in nostalgia. Jerry dates a woman with an extensive antique toy collection, but she won't let him play with them. Eventually, with the help of various sleep-inducing techniques, foods, and drugs, he manages to get her napping so he can play with her toys. He invites George over and then Elaine, and all three get a huge kick out of playing with the toys from their childhoods. Of the three, its probably most surprising to see George embrace the playthings of his youth. Elsewhere in the same episode, he can't love the squirrel his girlfriend makes him rescue. But he, along with Jerry and Elaine, have a childish, innocent side waiting to come out. All it takes is drugging Jerry's girlfriend to release it.