Sunday, September 4, 2011

My 10 Favourite Seinfeld Episodes

Inspired by Nicholas Prigge's list of his Ten Favourite Seinfeld Episodes, and being a huge Seinfeld fan myself, I have decided to come up with my own. My list of 25 Greatest Curb Your Enthusiasm Episodes gets a huge amount of hits, so it seems people are interested in what fans consider to be the 'best' examples of popular television comedies. The episodes I will select here are going to be my personal favourites, and not necessarily what I consider to be the 'best', though many of these are often considered some of the best. But, this list is one that is constantly changing also. Every time I put on an episode I love it individually in it's own way.

Considering the fact that there are very few weak Seinfeld episodes throughout it's nine fine seasons (even Season Two has some gems...The Statue and The Phone Message), choosing just ten episodes is quite tough. As a result, I'm going to cheat a little bit and start out with ten 'Honourable Mentions' before getting stuck into the list. But, really, this could be fifty 'Honourable Mentions'. Though I didn't watch it all that much when it was originally aired, I own every season of the show, and have watched every episode multiple times. For classic episodes, like some of the ones listed below, I may have surpassed ten.

So, first, my honourable mentions, and later my TOP 10: 

The Pick - Jerry's model girlfriend catches him in a 'pick' which Jerry denies on the basis that there was no 'nostril penetration'. George wrestles with his 'little man', Elaine sends a Christmas card to her family and friends with a photo of her with an exposed nipple and Kramer becomes a Calvin Klein model. 

The Pilot: Parts 1 and 2 - The culmination of Season 4, which is arguably the best season the show ever produced. The proposed television show about 'nothing', which is an arc for the entire season, gets the green light. Auditions start, a box of raisins mysteriously go missing, and each of the prominent supporting characters introduced (Russell Dalrymple and Crazy Joe Davola amongst others) get their final moments.

The Mango - Jerry's opening stand-up act about the seedless watermelon is one of my favourites, and this leads into another wonderful scene at Monks. George is telling Jerry about his lack of confidence in bed, which leads to Elaine revealing that she faked orgasms with Jerry. A flabbergasted Jerry spends the rest of the episode trying to convince Elaine to give him another shot - "Sex to save the friendship."

The Sniffing Accountant - Jerry, Elaine and George run into Jerry's accountant, Barry Prophet, whose frequent sniffing they cannot ignore. They suspect he may be using their money on drugs and Jerry, Kramer and Newman plot a sting to catch him in the act. This episode features one of Kramer's greatest moments, who's tracking of Barry into the men's room results in an unflattering photo. Elaine's newest relationship is influenced by the haphazard use of the 'exclamation point!'

The Hamptons - The gang head to the Hampton's to see Elaine's friends' baby, who seem to be having babies 'to get people to come see them.' Some insane things happen; Jerry and Elaine are sickened by the baby, who turns out to be as ugly as it's mother's voice is annoying, everyone gets to see George's new girlfriend topless before him, and his attempts to get back at Jerry by seeing his girlfriend naked, misfire. He becomes a victim of 'shrinkage', and he subtly tries to make the women aware of such an unfortunate phenomenon. Meanwhile, Kramer's adventures by the beach result in his arrest for lobster poaching. A classic!

The Couch - Jerry buys a new couch, but is repulsed (in one of my favourite scenes) when he realises that Poppie (of Poppie's restaurant) has peed on it during a brief visit. Kramer and Poppie go into business together, where Kramer proposes that 'customers get to make their own pie.' George, who needs to read Breakfast at Tiffany's for a book club, goes to great lengths to watch the film instead. 

The Mom and Pop Store - I love this episode for so many reasons. George buys a 1989 LeBaron convertible based on the reason the former owner was a 'John Voight'. He decides to test the claim by comparing a chewed pencil found in the car with Kramer's gnarled arm (by none other than Jon Voight) with one of the dentists at Tim Whatley's (Bryan Cranston) Thanksgiving party. Jerry, who wasn't invited to the party, gatecrashes in search for a dentist after he trips and chips a tooth wearing a pair of boots -  the only shoes left in his apartment by Kramer, who is trying to keep a Mom and Pop shoe repair store afloat. 

The Friar's Club - This is not a particularly great episode, I just always find myself watching it. Jerry borrows a jacket from the Friar's Club he is trying to become a member of. He attends a circus show with George, Susan and a date and the jacket (which he forgot to take off, and subsequently fails to return) is used in the magic act and mysteriously disappears. I love it for Jerry's face as his jacket is thrown into the crowd, and for the puzzled observation of a moose crest on an alternative jacket he has stolen. Kramer, convinced the Da Vinci sleeping method (20 mins every 3 hours) is an effective one, wakes up in the East River in a sack.

The Little Jerry - Jerry bounces a check with a clown design at the local supermarket, with the owner, Marcelino refusing to take it down off is register unless Kramer allows his new rooster (Little Jerry Seinfeld) to enter a 'cock fight.' Kramer and Jerry hastily train it for the big night. George dates an inmate and experiences the abhorrent 'break-out, pop-in'. Elaine's discovers her boyfriend, who decides to grow back his thick, lustrous hair, has gone bald - he seeks out George for life advice. 

The Serenity Now - I love this episode because it is one of Jerry's best. Jerry's girlfriend claims she has never seen him get mad, and Jerry's attempts to prove otherwise (hilarious) result in several other unusual emotions, including caring about the breakup, leading to tears - "What's this salty discharge?" Kramer installs a screen door and turns the hallway into 'Anytown, USA'. Elaine realises she has "shiks-appeal" - men renounce Judaism in order to be with her. 

10. The Chicken Roaster - A Kenny Rogers Chicken joint opens up across the street from Jerry and Kramer's apartment, with the large neon sign turning Kramer's apartment into a 'red menace'. After Kramer pours tomato juice into his cereal thinking it is milk, Jerry agrees to swap apartments, but soon develops Kramer's mannerisms, with Kramer more resembling Jerry. Elaine agrees to use the Peterman account to purchase George a sable hat (Jerry to George: "Why didn't you get the big one?") which he uses as a 'leave behind' to force another date with the store clerk. When George loses the hat, Elaine has to visit Peterman in the jungles of Burma to seek permission for the purchase, which features several amusing references to Apocalypse Now. 

9. The Pez Dispenser - George, dating Noelle, a concert pianist, feels like he has no control in the relationship, so Kramer advises him to attempt a 'pre-emptive breakup' to gain the upper hand, leading to one of my favourite quotes from George: "I have so much hand I'm coming out of my gloves." Prior to this Jerry and Elaine accompany George to one of her recitals, with Jerry placing a Pez Dispenser on Elaine's leg during the recital, causing her to laugh and distract Noelle. George, trying to hide the fact that  his friends were the cause of the distraction nearly comes to blows with Elaine. Meanwhile, Kramer has joined the Polar Bear club and gets a bright idea for a cologne that smells like 'the beach'. His ideas are rejected, but each of the arcs brilliantly come together during an intervention in Jerry's apartment for Jerry's former friend who has become messed up on drugs. 

8. The Puffy Shirt - "But I don't want to be a pirate!" To start off, Kramer is dating a low-talker and Jerry and Elaine, during a dinner date, cannot understand a word she says. But somewhere during their conversation Jerry agrees to wear on his appearance of The Today Show a shirt she has designed. When Kramer brings the shirt over, Jerry is mortified, and his face when he first tries on the shirt (Elaine: "you look like the Count of Monti Cristo) is enough to claim this a favourite. But George has also moved back in with his parents and during a particularly loathsome dinner he runs into a model agent who is impressed by George's hands and offers him a job as a hand model. Of course, George will never be a success and his dreams as a hand model are ruined because of the 'Puffy Shirt'. 

7. The Opposite - The infamous episode where George vows to do the opposite of every instinct he would normally have, with Jerry challenging George to talk to an attractive woman in Monks and successfully declare: "My name is George Costanza. I'm unemployed and live with my parents." Elaine, coincidentally, falls into a rut, with a series of unfortunate mishaps result in her falling into a life that usually resembles George. Jerry remains "Even Steven" while Kramer promotes his Coffee Table Book About Coffee Tables on Regis and Kathy Lee.

6. The Contest - Another famous episode, and probably the most famous in Seinfeld history. The episode opens with George admitting to getting caught 'alone' by his mother, who had fallen over and wound up in the hospital. Jerry is skeptical to George's claims of never doing 'that' again, with the foursome agreeing to enter a contest (putting up $100, and $150 for Elaine) to see who could hold out the longest. They are all distracted by various temptations; Elaine by John F. Kennedy Jr. at the health club, Jerry by a woman who prances around naked across the street, and George by a daily sponge bath in the ward next to his mother's at the hospital. Kramer's fold is hilarious, and the shots of the the group tossing and turning at night; followed by Kramer fast asleep will never be forgotten. 

5. The Bizarro Jerry - Here is a damn near perfect episode, with each of the arcs nothing short of brilliant. Jerry dates a beautiful woman with 'man hands'. George uses a photo of this very same woman to attract another beautiful woman by declaring that his former wife (a model) had passed away - successfully gaining access to the 'Forbidden City', a club full of attractive models and actresses that Jerry doesn't believe exists. Kramer winds up getting a job at Brandt/Leland, where he TCB (Takes Care of Business) and eats crackers all day, while Elaine remains friends with her latest boyfriend, and finds him more reliable than Jerry - a 'Bizarro Jerry'.

4. The Boyfriend: Parts 1 and 2 - My earliest favourite episode. An absolute classic split over two parts. Jerry and George meet Keith Hernandez, a famous baseball player, in the locker room. Keith is a fan of Jerry and the latter becomes pretty obsessed. When Keith starts dating Elaine ("I'm Keith Hernandez"), there is some jealous tension. Not everyone is a fan of Hernandez, however. Kramer and Newman recount a story of how Keith had spat at Kramer following a baseball game where they had been heckling him. This leads to Jerry's reenactment of the incident, where he comes to the conclusion that there was a 'second spitter' and concludes that no loogie could do what Kramer and Newman have claimed all this time. George, trying to find work, invents Vandelay Industries (a latex manufacturer) based out of Jerry's apartment - of course Kramer foils the ingenious plan.

3. The Race - Now we're getting really, really good. The premise of this episode surrounds Jerry's long-time rivalry with Duncan Meyer, a guy he once substantially beat in a race in high school, and one who is convinced (and rightfully so) that Jerry got a head start. Jerry denies such an advantage and now "chooses not to run". Superman references are in abundance, as Jerry's girlfriend, Lois, challenges him to race Meyer again, which Jerry reluctantly agrees to. Kramer and Mickey are working as a Santa and an Elf at their local department store, but are given the boot when Kramer starts spreading Communist propaganda picked up from Elaine's Communist boyfriend - whom Elaine gets blacklisted from his favourite Chinese Restaurant. There is a scene in the middle of the episode, where George, pretending to not know Jerry, backs up Jerry's story about the advantage in front of Lois and Duncan - but the pair get so caught up insulting one another, that George forgets the reason for the 'fake meeting' - Brilliant!

2. The Outing - "Not that there's anything wrong with that". A line that's now a part of culture. Elaine, George and Jerry are at Monks and Elaine spots a pair of women eavesdropping on their conversation - challenging George and Jerry to pretend that they are gay. One of these women happens to be a reporter that Jerry was supposed to be meeting there. Rescheduling with her, she eventually comes to his apartment for the interview and finds the pair there together. Needless to say the questions take an unexpected turn ("You should see how my boyfriend speaks to me."), before George and Jerry manage to convince her otherwise. Then an incident with a faulty two-way phone, given to Jerry as a birthday present from Kramer, results in the article being published with the original angle - and another accident for Mrs Constanza, a concerned phone call from Jerry's parents and a shunning from Kramer ensue. This works as a great double feature with The Contest, and is at what many consider to be the peak of the show. In another famous line appearing in this episode, George, trying to break up with his current girlfriend, tells her that he is gay and turns up at Jerry's to prove it. Needless to say, Jerry is now making out with the reporter (after the falsities have been cleared up). Shocked, George proclaims in one last desperate attempt; "My name is Buck Naked, and I'm a Porno Actor." If I was a porno actor, I can genuinely claim that name. 

1. The Switch - Jerry is dating a woman, Sandy, that doesn't laugh ("I can't be with a woman who doesn't laugh. It's like something."). George is dating a model who he believes may be 'refunding' ("It's like throwing money down the toilet.") A pair of elaborate schemes are thought up. When Jerry visits Nina at her apartment he is greeted by her attractive roommate who instantly laughs at one of his comments, prompting his infatuation in what George declares to be impossible and a scheme you can get locked up for thinking about...'the roommate switch.' When George discovers that Kramer's mother, Babs, is a matron, he enlists her to tell him why his girlfriends runs off the the bathroom after every meal. He also captures another juicy little nugget about Kramer, that his real name is 'Cosmo'. Jerry and George spend all night scheming a way to make the switch before George comes up with the plan - to suggest a menage-a-trois in the hopes that Sandy will be repulsed, and the roommate equally flattered. It's the perfect plan, until Sandy reveals she's 'into it'. I have watched this episode so many times and there are countless memorable moments and quotes. This is the one I could show anyone, even non-Seinfeld fans, and yes, there are some out there who loathe the show, and raise a laugh or ten.

So there you have it. What do you think? I'd love feedback on some of these choices. What are some of your favourite Seinfeld episodes?


  1. Never laughed once!!!! Ugh silly show.

    But look, i'm reading AND commenting!!!

  2. I know you have never liked it, but your commenting makes me happy :-)

  3. Sorry, as Hispanic-American teen in the mid-90s. I was never into Seinfeld. It was too white for me and I was more into The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The Simpsons.

  4. Nice list man!

    As a Seinfeld addict myself, I must add:

    The Puerto-Rican Day Parade: Damn you laser guy! You're just a prop comic!

    Soup Nazi: Definitive episode.

    The Dealership: Another one from the much maligned final season. TWIX!!!!!!

    The Soup: Soup isn't a meal, That doesn't count.

    I could go on and on... props for even getting down to 20 favorites... i couldnt do it... too many great ones.

  5. @ Steven - Fair enough, man. I wasn't really a Simpsons man, and back in the 90's I wasn't a Seinfeld man either. I mean, I was pretty young then!

    @ Rich - Cheers. Yeah, there are so many episodes. One glaring one that I feel should be there is The Marine Biologist. But I love The Dealership, The Soup Nazi and The Soup too. Actually, there are few that I don't. Pretty set on my Top 10 - they stand out for me. Thanks for the comment, Rich!

  6. Andy - did you watch FRIENDS?


  7. No Soup Nazi? Man...

    Well, at least you have The Puffy Shirt.

  8. @ Simon - Not really. Caught an episode here and there. I enjoyed the show but never made it a regular watch.

    @ Anna - The Soup Nazi was hyped up by my friends before I saw it, and when I finally did, I guess I was a little disappointed. I like it for a couple of hilarious sequences, but I don't watch it too much anymore. But still, I always laugh at Newman and "JUMBALAYA." The Puffy Shirt is so great!

    Thanks for the comments, friends!

  9. I believe I mentioned this sort of list you awhile back ... but I feel I'm going to have to sit down for a week, and go through each episode - then make a list.

    Good stuff.

    Must haze you and everyone else who did not mention ... the fucking one and only "The Marine Biologist" - perhaps the funniest episode of Seinfeld.

  10. Yeah, I realised immediately that I left out THE MARINE BIOLOGIST. It's a glaring hole, and I do love that episode. Shame on me haha.

  11. Great choices Andy. From your Top 10, I really love The Opposite, The Boyfriend, and The Puffy Shirt. Another favorite of mine is The Parking Garage, one of their great one-set episodes. Another silly early episode in a similar vein is The Chinese Restaurant. What do you think about these?

  12. Dan, I love their one-set episodes, with The Parking Garage being my favourite, I think. The Chinese Restaurant, The Dealership and The Puerto Rican Day are also classics. They are unfortunate exclusions. I love the show a great deal, and there are few episodes that I wouldn't watch at any time. Thanks for the comment.

  13. Well done, man. Really the amount of honorable mentions says it all.

    The Switch as #1. I like it. It IS a classic but also not one of the most obvious choices. "Do you realize that in the entire history of western civilization no one has successfully accomplished the roommate switch?!"

    Now I want to watch Seinfeld.

  14. Yeah, for a long time it was The Outing, but I can't go past The Switch. That quote may just be my all-time favourite. I also love it when Jerry turns up at Sandy's apartment and the roommate tells him that Sandy is in the shower and if he would like to come in - Jerry responds by saying: "I would but I forgot to bring a towel." Another classic!

  15. I am not sure of the name of the episode, but the one that goes backward in time that has the wedding in India has always been a favourite one.

  16. I'm new to your site & am incredibly impressed with the huuuuge, varied amount of information you've amassed! Kudos and many thanks!

    I'd like to cast a vote for the Seinfeld episode called "The Butter Shave." Kramer decides that butter is infinitely better (ha!) to shave with and that leads to him using it as a tanning "lotion" as well. The smell of the sauteeing flesh leads building busybody and gourmand Newman up to the roof and he begins hallucinating about cooking Kramer! The scene in Monk's where he sees Kramer's head on a turkey, waving a wing at him always leaves me laughing to the point of crying.

    The other characters are good for laughs as well. Jerry tangles with his nemesis, Kenny Bania. George claims to be handicapped & gets involved in a scooter chase w/some irate senior citizens. Elaine and Puddy are on the flight from hell back from a European vacation. But you can't beat the sight of Kramer walking around, dressed, but brown as a bucket of KFC and Newman, in his wake, drooling.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Martha and for the very kind words. It means so much to have enthusiastic support. As for The Butter Shave - it is definitely one of my favourite episodes from the 9th Season, and just missed this list. Actually, I thought I might have included it, but when I checked, it wasn't there. There are some hilarious moments - George buttering up for a shave and then slipping over, and using a cane. I love the show, and I'm glad you're a fan too!