Get Out! "Seinfeld" on DVD? He's already the Master of His Domain why would it need to be released it on DVD? Because the fans demanded it and justice can only be served if one of the most popular and best sitcoms can be viewed, uncut and with lots and lots of background material on this groundbreaking show. Just a warning this review is for the gift set which includes the salt shakers, playing cards and a copy of one of Larry David's scripts. That's the main difference between this gift set (that and the fact that it includes the two boxed sets including the first three "seasons"). The first season consisted of five episodes (including the pilot)while the second consisted of 13 episodes as the network decided to commit to the show when the show received solid ratings. The third season consists of 22 episodes. All the episodes are the uncut original episodes that aired on NBC (most of the episodes in syndication are usually trimmed by a minute or two). The boxed set has a slipover case. Inside the inside slipcase each disc is nicely housed in individual slim DVD holders. 15 commentary tracks (if I'm counting correctly)for both sets. Deleted scenes, unused stand up bits, promos, featurettes make this a generous set particulary when compared to the bare bones releases for other similar (although not as funny) series.
When "The Seinfeld Chronicles" (the original title) first aired as a limited series no one suspected it would be the next big thing. Seinfeld and his collaborator/co-creator/co-producer and frequent co-writer Larry David pushed TV comedy to its boundaries and then demolished them. They'd then establish new boundaries and demolish those. That's groundbreaking, important television. It's also what made "Seinfeld" unique. Sure, "Who's The Boss?" could be funny but it had to be about something where someone learned something in every episode. Seinfeld's and David's mantra "learn nothing and be about nothing" proved that TV touching on the absurdity of real life could be funnier than TV where the characters learned valuable lessons and became better people. In truth, that rarely happens in the real world and the fact that Seinfeld made fun of and played with that convention made it important. It helped that it was damn funny as well.
Looks like something here in a marvelous high definition transfer from Columbia-Tristar. The good news is that even though the show was videotaped, the quality of the picture and sound for most of those analog episodes continues to look great. The blacks are solid for a videotaped program and the colors are as real and true as they appeared over a decade ago.
For a show about nothing this boxed set spends plenty of time and space talking about the something special that made this an outstanding show. The hour long documentary has interesting, revealing tidbits including a shocker from Julia Louis- Dreyfus-she never saw the original pilot episode. In fact, she didn't see it until she prepped for the commentary tracks and interview for this boxed set. Larry David's acerbic dry fatalistic sense of humor (which informs his terrific show "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO) along with the witty, informed but ultimately wacky observations of the rest of the cast and crew make this a marvelous documentary. Unlike the featurettes or documentaries on a lot of TV shows (any of the "Sex and the City" ones for example), to invert a famous quip by a famous writer, "there's there there". Substance for a show about nothing what an ironic twist but in reality "Senfield" was about something. It was about the absurd little moments that populate our lives but a little more twisted.
"Kramer vs. Kramer" allows the real life inspiration for Cosmo Kramer to comment on his fictional counterpart. Kenny Kramer comes across as wacky and weird as Cosmo but a little scarier in that he occupies real space. We also get outtakes, bloopers (watch Jerry and the cast screw everything up and make the screw ups almost as funny as the scripts) and deleted scenes from episodes that ran a little but too long. "Master of His Domain" features the stand up material that introduced much of the first and second season (before it was ultimately seen as unnecessary) that was shot but never featured in the show. You can well imagine which episodes they were intended for and guess pretty accurately without seeing any info on the subject. "Sponsored by Vandelay Industries" features the funny promo ads and trailers that NBC ran to promote the show. "Inside Looks" provides a glimpse behind-the-scenes as to what was really happening when various episodes were shot. There's also some discussion about improve on the set, what inspired the various episodes and the chemistry that the ensemble cast had together. We also have the chance to see trivia about the various episodes but, more importantly, two slightly different versions of the pilot episode that play a bit different as well. It's like entering the Bizarro Universe from Superman at times.
The boxed set of the first three seasons is the way to go. There's really not a bad episode among them and "Seinfeld", like "Star Trek: The Original Series" literally hit the ground running. Yes, the series developed but it's frightening how good and sure these first three seasons are. That's rare in TV. There's also a copy of Larry David's script for with comments about the script, playing cards and, more importantly, replicas of the salt and pepper shakers from "Monk's". It's pricey but, really, it's the best bargain considering the extra stuff you get. If you want just the series, though, picking up the first two boxed sets separately is more cost effective.
Sharp, witty and frequently funny observations pop up in the 15 commentary tracks for the episodes from the first three seasons. While all of them are good, those featuring David, Seinfeld and the rest of the cast work best. Why? Because we are familiar with all of them and it's like inviting friends into your living room to comment on their own home movies and embarrassing photos. In closing, Seifeld was certainly sponge worthy. Yada-yada-yada, yabba-dabby-doo, get out!