TV Review

Seinfeld (1990 - 1998)

EW's GRADE
B+

Details Genre: Comedy; With: Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards and Jerry Seinfeld; Networks: NBC and Syndicated; More

THE FINALE

WRITER Larry David
DIRECTOR Andy Ackerman
SYNOPSIS NBC finally wants to air Jerry and George's sitcom pilot; the foursome hop aboard the network's private jet, but the plane must emergency-land in Latham, Mass., where they witness an obese man being carjacked. After mocking the victim (and videotaping the crime) the four are arrested, brought to trial for ''criminal indifference'' (with Jackie Chiles as defense counsel, natch), and found guilty.
HISTORIC MOMENTS As their jet plummets, George admits to lying about winning the Contest (meaning Jerry won); Judge Arthur Vandelay presides over the quartet's ''Good Samaritan'' trial, and Jerry and George echo the very conversation that opened the series (i.e., Jerry's belief that the second button is the most important on a shirt; as he said in episode 1, if it's too high, ''you look like you live with your mother''). Oh, yes, and after bedding Sidra (Teri Hatcher) of episode 57, Chiles confirms ''they're real.''
CREATIVE CASTING Nearly every supporting character you'd ever want to see again (and a few you didn't) show up to testify as to the foursome's callousness. Peter Riegert as suitably fatuous NBC exec James Kimbrough.
CRITIQUE Like taking your doctoral exam in Seinology — and about as funny. Talk about sour grapes: Returning cocreator David turns spiteful, unforgiving moralist, making Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer pay for all their years of ''selfishness, self-absorption, immaturity, and greed.'' David took the idea that these are essentially unlikable people and ran with it, mainly leaving out the jokes (best moment: Jerry's dad owning up to digging Xena: Warrior Princess). But mostly, retribution prevailed: It's as if David forgot that in nearly every episode invoked, the gang was made to suffer for whatever wrongdoing they committed. It's not as if Jerry got off scot-free for mugging that old woman for her marble rye; as if George didn't pay for going cheap on those wedding invitations. This crew led miserable lives, and we relished their exceptional pettiness. That they should be punished for all the vicarious fun we had at their expense is David's way of saying we never should have made these cruel losers Must See-worthy.

From the episode's start (an oddly paced coffee-shop scene) to an ending that was like a Samuel Beckett first draft, the show's swan song was off-key and bloated. George says at one point, ''If you're bleak, you're bleak,'' and we agree; the best Seinfelds over nine years were dark with the blackest of humor. But this episode's new running jokes (Elaine making a health inquiry via cell phone, Geraldo Rivera as commentator) were lame. Ultimately, Seinfeld and David's kiss-off was a hearty, ''So long, suckers!''

But, hey, Jerry's jailhouse bit over the final credits was boffo. Loved the new material, Jer. C-

MORE TOTAL RECALL

Add the following to the tallies in the Definitive Viewer's Guide. (Anyone ever tell you that you need to get a life?)

Meetings at Monk's Cafe 2
Kramer entrances 1
Jerry on his phone 4
Jerry, Kramer, George, or Elaine driving a car 1
Scenes in a plane/airport 3
Bowls of cereal eaten 2
Nazi references 1
Art Vandelay reference 1

Sign up for EW.com's What to Watch Newsletter!

What to watch on TV. Hear what's on tap for the night ahead and get witty, morning after recaps of top shows (sent weekday mornings).
Originally posted May 29, 1998 Published in issue #434 May 29, 1998 Order article reprints