I continue to watch Seinfeld. Considering it’s still on multiple times a day I probably watch it more than any other show. When I think of it that way, a show being off the air for 14 years, and still being my #1–it’s a little disturbing. They always promo the show that will be on the following day, and I found myself getting irrationally excited when I saw the Soup Nazi “trailer” a week or two ago. YES! That’s what I thought to myself. I’ve probably seen the episode six, ten times? It doesn’t matter. I’d watch it right this minute.
How is this possible? I like Modern Family, but if you want me to sit down and watch a re-run? Eh. Probably not happening. I’ve seen this one. That’s probably what I would say. Of course, I’ve seen every Seinfeld. Someone told me the other day that they liked watching syndication because sometimes they’d catch an episode they’d never seen before. That amazes me. I don’t doubt that it’s a thrill, but there’s really a Seinfeld episode out there you’ve never seen? There were only 180 episodes. What are you doing with your life that you haven’t seen all of them? You can’t spare 90 hours?
Anyway, at this point in my Seinfeld watching career there are two things that I really enjoy about watching the show. The first is small and simple. I can watch Seinfeld without really watching. I can be making dinner. I can be sniffing around on the internet, I can be just flipping to it during a commercial, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing really, I’ll always be able to jump right into the episode. Each one is that ingrained that I can watch a two or three-minute chunk, overhear a line, and immediately put it into context and still get the full entertainment value. The other reason I still like watching the show is you never know who you’re going to see. It feels like almost every person who went on to be a TV star after 1998 was at one point on Seinfeld in some capacity. Last night I’m watching and poof, there’s Amanda Peet. A couple of minutes later Elaine is complaining about her threatening co-worker (Molly Shannon) to a cop on the street that happens to be the father in The Middle.
It’s retroactive guest-starring. The most common role for future stars was certainly Jerry’s girlfriend. By the time the show was in its prime the best way to land a sit-com or get some real work was to do a few episodes as Jerry’s love interest. Courtney Cox was Jerry’s wife (according to the dry-cleaner). Jerry was fixated on breaking up Debra Messing and Cary Elwes so that he could date her. Of course, she turned out to be racist (and an anti-dentite) before ending up on Will and Grace. Who was the dentist being discriminated against? Bryan Cranston. There was Teri Hatcher, Catherine Keener, Kristen Davis and Jane Leeves as well. It wasn’t all Jerry, though. Sara Silverman played Kramer’s girlfriend. Megan Mullally (who now does 4-7 pilots a year now for some reason) was George’s girlfriend in the famous double-dipped chip episode. That’s like putting your whole mouth in the bowl.
Those are the easy ones, though. The real joy is seeing the more obscure, bit parts, like seeing Neil Flynn as that cop. Jon Favreau was Eric the clown in the episode where George panics during the fire and tramples children and grandmothers on his way out of the building. Jeremy Piven auditioned to play George when he and Jerry were trying to sell their pilot. Just last year I started watching a bit of a show called White Collar. I had no recollection of ever seeing the show’s main character, but then a few weeks later I’m watching my Seinfeld reruns and there’s the guy from White Collar as bizzaro Jerry. It’s truly amazing. Frickin’ Seinfeld. Every episode is like a Before They Were Stars.