The Seinfeld Chronicles

Season 8: 1996/1997

127 THE FOUNDATION
FIRST AIRED 9/19/96
WRITERS Berg/ Schaffer
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS The Rosses establish a foundation in their late daughter's honor. To his disgust and surprise, George finds that (1) he's to head it up, and (2) his dead fiancee was worth millions. Elaine, now running the show at her office (burnt-out Peterman's languishing in Burma), fashions the disastrous Urban Sombrero. Kramer takes up karate.
INTRODUCES Bruce Davison as Mr. Wyck, chairman of the Susan Ross Foundation
HISTORIC MOMENT No more opening stand-up routines — Seinfeld is now too busy picking up the creative slack in David's absence.
CRITIQUE A solid return, capitalizing nicely — yet again — on an untimely demise. Kramer's encounter with the ''little fists of fury,'' however, foreshadows the more slapsticky bent of this season. B+

128 THE SOUL MATE
FIRST AIRED 9/26/96
WRITER Mehlman
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Elaine — somewhat echoing Jerry's Jeannie crush (126) — is gonzo for her flighty, child-phobic equal, Kevin. Kramer's attraction to Jerry's new girlfriend, Pam (Kim Myers), makes a formerly blase Jerry ''gaga'' over her. George — thinking Wyck (127) suspects him of guilt in Susan's death — pulls a ''Jerry Lewis'' and secretly tapes a foundation meeting. Wise Crack Elaine tells Jerry she's hot for Kevin because they have a common goal. What, asks Jerry, ''A barren, sterile existence that ends when you die?''
INTRODUCES Tim DeKay as Kevin, Bizarro Jerry in 129
HISTORIC MOMENTS A boyishly cropped Elaine. We also learn that she (probably) doesn't want kids: ''It's been done to death.'' Kramer has a vasectomy.
CRITIQUE A delightful paean to infatuation, despite a truly awful Jerry-chasing-Newman bit (see foreshadowing in previous
CRITIQUE). B

129 THE BIZARRO JERRY
FIRST AIRED 10/3/96
WRITER Mandel
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Jerry's whole system breaks down as George dates a model, Kramer becomes a nine-to-five suit, and Elaine takes up with a trio of new buds (Kevin, Gene, and Feldman), the sensitive, cerebral opposites of her current klatch. If that isn't enough, Jerry's dating Gillian (Kristin Bauer), a woman with ''man hands.''
CRITIQUE This Superman reference writ large makes for the first post-David masterpiece. Two inspired moments: Jerry's wifely bickering with ersatz exec Kramer, and the sidewalk showdown between Elaine's two worlds. A

130 THE LITTLE KICKS
FIRST AIRED 10/10/96
WRITER Feresten
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Elaine's office-party dancing (''a full-body dry heave set to music'') makes her an object of ridicule. When Peterman employee Anna (Rebecca McFarland) gets the hots for George, believing him to be a ''bad boy,'' he eagerly makes like a latter-day Fonzie. Kramer's pistol-packin' pal Brody (Neil Giuntoli) forces Jerry to become a video-bootlegging auteur.
CRITIQUE Jerry's and George's forays into delinquency pay off, but Elaine's spastic mutation of ''The Hitchhike'' provides the mother lode. Sweet fancy Moses! A

131 THE PACKAGE
FIRST AIRED 10/17/96
WRITER Jennifer Crittenden
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Thanks to Kramer, Jerry is investigated for mail fraud. Elaine is branded a ''difficult'' patient and shunned by the medical community. George pursues a misguided ''dance'' of seduction with one-hour photo-shop employee Sheila (Heather Campbell).
CRITIQUE ''Pretty boy'' George's cheesecake posing and Uncle Leo's faux eyebrows are the sole guffaws in this flaccid package. The medical- establishment-as-conspiratorial- secret society gambit is a loser, as is an overused Newman; like any pungent seasoning, he's best in small amounts. C-

132 THE FATIGUES
FIRST AIRED 10/31/96
WRITERS Kavet/Robin
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS It's mentor madness, as Jerry, Elaine, and George find themselves guiding the careers of Ovaltine-obsessed Bania, soldier-of-fortune mailroom guy Eddie Sherman (Ned Bellamy), and risk-management student Abby (My So-Called Life's A.J. Langer). Kramer's hosting of a Jewish Singles Night stirs up Frank Costanza's Platoon-like memories of a wartime cooking debacle.
CRITIQUE Bania's wide-eyed rankling just slays us, as does most of this military-tinged romp. B

133 THE CHECKS
FIRST AIRED 11/7/96
WRITERS Steve O'Donnell/Gammill/Pross
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Jerry (very) modestly cashes in on Japanese stardom thanks to a cameo on The Super Terrific Happy Hour. Kramer puts up a trio of Japanese tourists. Elaine dates Uberyuppie Bret (James Patrick Stuart), a ''Desperado'' devotee who won't share his song.
HISTORIC MOMENT Wilhelm is abducted by the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners cult.
CRITIQUE A plethora of in-jokes (references to the Urban Sombrero, the NBC pilot, Jerry's stand-up act, etc.) and one unforgettable image — the Japanese bunking in Kramer's dresser — make this B-worthy. Our weariness with yet another quirky-to-the-max Elaine beau demotes it to a B-.

134 THE CHICKEN ROASTER
FIRST AIRED 11/14/96
WRITERS Berg/Schaffer
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Kramer's Newman-abetted Kenny Rogers Roasters addiction overcomes his initial boycotting of the chain. Elaine's Peterman expense-account abuse sends her to Burma in search of her boss and propels George on a misguided pursuit of a hat saleswoman. Jerry's reunion with old college acquaintance Seth (Mark Roberts) precipitates the latter's professional downfall.
CRITIQUE An episode as unconvincing as Seinfeld's acting (highlighted here in a brief Jerry and Kramer identity switch) is saved by Seth's pitiful plight. Peterman's dissipated Far East breakdown, and Kramer and Newman's clandestine gluttony. B-

135 THE ABSTINENCE
FIRST AIRED 11/21/96
WRITER Steve Koren
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS A sick girlfriend forces George into celibacy, which turns him into a Phenomenon-style brainiac. Elaine dates a doofus almost-doctor, Ben, and tries the no-sex route, with brain-draining results. Kramer's at-home smoking lounge ends in a tobacco-company lawsuit.
CREATIVE CASTING Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show) as the clueless med student
HISTORIC MOMENT We learn of a second alma mater that Jerry and George share — Edward R. Murrow Junior High School — when Jerry is bumped from their Career Day.
CRITIQUE Another trip to bizarro land as Elaine and George become their mental opposites. But we don't mind repetition when it yields such smart comedy. Bonus points for the David Letterman closer. B+

134 THE CHICKEN ROASTER
FIRST AIRED 11/14/96
WRITERS Berg/Schaffer
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Kramer's Newman-abetted Kenny Rogers Roasters addiction overcomes his initial boycotting of the chain. Elaine's Peterman expense-account abuse sends her to Burma in search of her boss and propels George on a misguided pursuit of a hat saleswoman. Jerry's reunion with old college acquaintance Seth (Mark Roberts) precipitates the latter's professional downfall.
CRITIQUE An episode as unconvincing as Seinfeld's acting (highlighted here in a brief Jerry and Kramer identity switch) is saved by Seth's pitiful plight. Peterman's dissipated Far East breakdown, and Kramer and Newman's clandestine gluttony. B-

135 THE ABSTINENCE
FIRST AIRED 11/21/96
WRITER Steve Koren
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS A sick girlfriend forces George into celibacy, which turns him into a Phenomenon-style brainiac. Elaine dates a doofus almost-doctor, Ben, and tries the no-sex route, with brain-draining results. Kramer's at-home smoking lounge ends in a tobacco-company lawsuit.
CREATIVE CASTING Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show) as the clueless med student
HISTORIC MOMENT We learn of a second alma mater that Jerry and George share — Edward R. Murrow Junior High School — when Jerry is bumped from their Career Day.
CRITIQUE Another trip to bizarro land as Elaine and George become their mental opposites. But we don't mind repetition when it yields such smart comedy. Bonus points for the David Letterman closer. B+

136 THE ANDREA DORIA
FIRST AIRED 12/19/96
WRITER Feresten
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS To score a two- bedroom apartment, George must convince a tenant board that he's more pathetic than a shipwreck survivor. Big-headed Elaine dates bad breaker-upper Alan (Tom Gallup). Neither wind nor sleet nor snow (nor humiliation) will prevent Jerry from helping Newman achieve his dreams of a Hawaii transfer. M.D.-hating Kramer seeks a doggy-style cure for his cough.
CRITIQUE With Kramer channeling Lassie and George playing victim to the hilt, how can you miss? B

137 THE LITTLE JERRY
FIRST AIRED 1/9/97
WRITER Crittenden
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Kramer buys a rooster and is soon running afoul of cockfighting impresario/deli owner Marcelino (Miguel Sandoval). George finds that fugitive sex is even better than conjugal-visit sex when convict Celia (Andrea Bendewald) breaks out and pops in. Elaine encourages bald-by-choice Kurt (John Michael Higgins) to grow his hair back, only to find he's losing it.
CRITIQUE Jerry and Kramer training their champion pecker had us crowing — a mere moment in a media hora muy excellente. A-

138 THE MONEY
FIRST AIRED 1/16/97
WRITER Mehlman
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Financial insecurity infects George, who worries his parents are blowing his nest egg; Elaine, who finds herself demoted when Peterman unexpectedly returns; and the Seinfelds, who, fearing Jerry's broke (after he bounced a check at Marcelino's in 137), sell the Cadillac he gave them to Jack Klompus.
CRITIQUE Awash in comic transactions, ''Money'' is bankrupt nonetheless. C

139 THE COMEBACK
FIRST AIRED 1/30/97
WRITERS Kavet/Robin
DIRECTOR Trainor
SYNOPSIS George is insulted during a Yankee lunch meeting and becomes obsessed with delivering his (he thinks) brilliant ''jerk store'' retort. Abysmal tennis player and pro-shop manager Milos (Mark Harelik) recruits Jerry to help him save face in front of his woman. Elaine begins a phone affair with Vincent, a mysterious video-store cineast. Kramer drafts a living will.
CREATIVE CASTING Ben Stein as the unflappable drafter of Kramer's will
CRITIQUE George has a vindictive field day. And once again the show milks ethnicity for laughs, this time with the inept, pompous Eastern Bloc emigre Milos. B

140 THE VAN BUREN BOYS
FIRST AIRED 2/6/97
WRITER Darin Henry
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Jerry dates Ellen (Christine Taylor), a ''fantastic'' woman who nevertheless appears to have no friends. (George to Jerry: ''Every group has [its loser] — like us, with Elaine.'') George selects a kindred spirit as the first Susan Ross Foundation scholar: underachieving liar Steven Koren (Jed Rhein). Peterman co-opts Kramer's life stories for his autobiography.
CRITIQUE George's sponsorship of his deceitful protege is abandoned too soon (in favor of the dopey Van Buren Boys angle), as is the Elaine-as-loser concept. And Kramer's ''ripping yarns'' should have been hilarious; instead, he's reduced to slipping on golf balls. C+

141 THE SUSIE
FIRST AIRED 2/13/97
WRITER Mandel
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS More identity games, as Elaine is mistaken for a nonexistent coworker named Susie; Kramer becomes George's girlfriend by proxy; and bookie Mike Moffet (he of the parking space fracas in episode 38) believes Jerry is a Mafia-style hitman.
CRITIQUE ''The Susie'' is possibly Seinfeld's most ill-conceived premise yet. Two things save this from D-dom: Kramer and George's ''romantic'' rapport, and the latter's now-infamous Greatest American Hero answering machine greeting. C+

142 THE POTHOLE
FIRST AIRED 2/20/97
WRITERS O'Donnell/Dan O'Keefe
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Obsessions run amok: George is desperate to recover the prized Phil Rizzuto key chain that was swallowed by a street crater; fastidious Jerry can't kiss his girlfriend (Melrose Place's Kristin Davis) after her toothbrush falls in the toilet; Elaine's hankering for a Chinese flounder dish has her assuming an address (a closet, actually) within the restaurant's delivery zone; and Kramer takes the adopt-a-highway concept a little too literally.
HISTORIC MOMENT The highway scenes, the pothole explosion, Newman's combustion (don't ask), and the toilet's-eye camera shot add up, according to Seinfeld, to the most technically ambitious sitcom episode in TV history. And here's food for thought: In an episode of her pre-Seinfeld sitcom Day by Day, Louis-Dreyfus is seen faking an address in order to receive delivery from a fave Chinese restaurant. Hmmm...
CRITIQUE Physical high jinks dominate. And while impressed with this episode's F/X triumphs, we are sorely missing the witty erudition that is, after all, the show's claim to fame. C+

143 THE ENGLISH PATIENT
FIRST AIRED 3/13/97
WRITER Koren
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Elaine — seemingly the only living person not nuts for The English Patient — offends everyone. A trip to Florida finds Jerry mired in one-upmanship with the Mandelbaum clan, headed by Izzy (the late Lloyd Bridges), and transporting Cubans (literally) back to Kramer. George meets a foxy blond and becomes obsessed with her boyfriend — his supposed twin.
CRITIQUE This season's one pure travesty — unbearably simplistic and broad (especially that Mandelbaum crap)—made us feel as burned as the episode's eponymous protagonist. D-

144 THE NAP
FIRST AIRED 4/10/97
WRITERS Kavet/Robin
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS A sleep-deprived George engages Jerry's conscientious carpenter, Conrad (Stephen Lee), to construct a mini-bedroom beneath his office desk. Kramer unwittingly initiates a lap-swimming craze in the East River.
SEXUAL DEALING Jerry on a ''walking'' first date: It's a good date because ''you don't have to look right at the person.'' Adds Elaine, ''It's the next best thing to being alone.''
CRITIQUE Before you know it, a good start (George as workplace snoozer) leads into lame terrorist nonsense. Remember what we said about Newman in 131? That goes double for Steinbrenner. C+

145 THE YADA YADA
FIRST AIRED 4/24/97
WRITERS Mehlman/Jill Franklyn
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Conversation fudger ''yada, yada'' infects the group thanks to George's succinct, shoplifting girlfriend, Marcy (Suzanne Cryer). Jerry suspects that Tim the dentist has converted to Judaism purely for the jokes. After Elaine screws up an adoption opportunity for Beth (125) — now remarried to Arnie (Stephen Caffrey) — she sinks to a new low redeeming herself. Kramer and Mickey squabble over their double dates.
CRITIQUE Bad news: A feckless Kramer-Mickey sideshow gets no help from gratuitous Robert Wagner and Jill St. John cameos (as Mickey's parents). And are we actually to believe that Elaine has stooped to a sex-for-baby trade with the adoption counselor? Good news: Tim's conversion and Jerry's ''anti-dentite'' outrage against it are brilliantly handled, and a welcome return to the verbal virtuosity we love. As for Jerry in the confessional — a blessed event! B+

146 THE MILLENNIUM
FIRST AIRED 5/1/97
WRITER Crittenden
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Competing plans for a 1999 New Year's Eve party force Kramer to choose between Jerry and Newman. George gets an irresistible offer from the Mets but has to get himself fired first; alas, each of his purposeful fiascoes (including streaking across Yankee Stadium in a nude bodysuit) only make him a hero to Steinbrenner. Elaine tries to drive Putumayo out of business.
HISTORIC MOMENT Steinbrenner ultimately dumps George by trading him to...an Arkansas fast-food chain (Tyler Chicken).
CRITIQUE Though Jerry gets stuck with a silly speed-dialing subplot, we never tire of watching George fail — this time upward. B-

147 THE MUFFIN TOPS
FIRST AIRED 5/8/97
WRITER Feresten
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Lippman resurfaces, co-opting Elaine's brainstorm: a store selling only muffins sans stumps. Mistaken for a tourist by Mary Anne (Rena Sofer), an attractive New York City Visitor's Center employee, George avidly assumes the role. Kramer creates the Peterman Reality Tour in response to the autobiography filled with his life stories (140). Jerry shaves his chest.
HISTORIC MOMENT Kramer's reality tour is based on an actual NYC jaunt hosted by the real-life Kramer.
CRITIQUE The top of this muffin is deliciously moist and tasty. Midway through, however, it suddenly goes stale, crumbling into howling stupidity. Nothing will prepare you for that moonlit bus drive — to the dump indeed. A for the first half, F for the second.

148 THE SUMMER OF GEORGE
FIRST AIRED 5/15/97
WRITERS Berg/Schaffer
DIRECTOR Ackerman
SYNOPSIS Kramer inadvertently receives a Tony for the musical Scarsdale Surprise and is then asked to fire their ''train wreck'' of a star, Raquel Welch (playing herself). Now-unemployed George offers to be Jerry's summer intern, helping him attend to the needs of Lanette (Amanda Peet), a high-maintenance girlfriend. Elaine is pegged a catty shrew, then stalked, by coworker Sam.
Creative Casting Kudos to Welch for caricaturing herself, and to SNL's Molly Shannon for pulling off simian-walking Sam.
CRITIQUE Some lazy plotting harkening back to last year's finale (George gets his comeuppance when an invitation-related accident lands him in the hospital) puts a damper on a solid season send-off. B-

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