Friday, February 1, 2013

SEINFELD - Season 9, Episode 21 - The Chronicle (Clip Show)

“The Chronicle”

Aired: May 14, 1998 (same night as the series finale)
Nielsen rating: 33.6
Audience share: 53 (58.5 million viewers)
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writer: Darin Henry

The last clip show begins with a spruced up version of the Seinfeld theme song. On the evening of the finale, it added to the celebratory mood. In the only new footage, the quartet is getting ready to go to a film. George and Kramer are impatient, but Jerry stops to talk directly into the camera. He introduces the clip show with an over-the-top, slightly sarcastic sincerity. He's friendly, but he's laughing inside and his attitude suggests he senses the audience is laughing with him. There will be little sentimentality this evening.

The first montage of clips is set to the Theme from Superman, a nod to Jerry's favorite cartoon character, who was referenced or appeared in one form or another (usually as a magnet on his fridge) in most of the episodes of the series. The montage is a smorgasbord of zany, outrageous moments from the series. From there, the clips are split up into the following rather scattered categories:
Getting Out
People We Know
Unusual Problems
They're random but catch-all. They also suggest a community. "Getting Out" refers to the New York City setting, the only place Seinfeld could have existed. "Parents" and "People We Know" refer to wider social network within which the quartet operated and interacted. Finally, "Unusual Problems" is, obviously, the complications they always ran into. The montage shows them talking to each other about their myriad problems, reminding us how important their relationships are to each other, though none but perhaps Kramer would ever admit it. Of course, talking about problems is the basic formula of the sitcom; there was nothing groundbreaking about that. It was the nature of the problems that changed TV sitcoms. Seinfeld's addressing of explicit topics blazed the trail for Sex and the City soon after, Girls more recently, and Curb Your Enthusiasm most obviously. The show's obsession with social etiquette and other banal problems has perhaps only been matched by Curb Your Enthusiasm, but probably every sitcom writer since Seinfeld was influenced by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld to look for humor in the little things.

At the end of the clip show, Seinfeld does offer a few minutes of sincerity. Set to Green Day's sweet, sentimental pop ballad "Time of Your Life," the audience is treated to a montage of behind-the-scenes visuals. While the show itself was never interested in tugging heart strings, its clear that the show meant something deep and significant to the people who worked on it.

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