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My Top 10 Seinfeld Episodes - Part 2

In case you missed Part One of my Top 10 Seinfeld Episodes, I was compelled to put my Top Ten list into writing by the many "Top Tens" floating around Twitter while everyone sits at home during the quarantine.  Please go check out that article HERE.

It was gratifying to go through the entire series of episodes and pick out my favorites, and I thank you for allowing me to reminisce.  I hope reading my list is half as enjoyable as it was to write and remember, but then again, that's what this site is for... the ability to take "road trips down memory lane."  Seinfeld is easily in my Top Five favorite shows, and I know these episodes like the back of my hand.
I'll frequently drop a Seinfeld line into ordinary conversation, and in the style of Anthony Cumia, I'll very rarely add a "Seinfeld Story" to the conversation like the time I was on the subway and got a hot tip on a horse race.  I went and made a bet and won big, but a guy at the betting window saw how much I won and followed me onto the subway.  Thankfully a cop pretending to be a blind man saved the day and arrested him.

Pretty cool story, huh?  I usually don't say anything if they don't catch on and... boy, some people I work with must think I have some weird crazy life, or I'm the biggest liar of them all.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my Top Five Seinfeld episodes.

5.  The Chicken Roaster - S8E8 - Originally Aired November 14, 1996

I recently wrote quite a bit about this episode and even more about the restaurant in my Fast Food of YesterYear article featuring Kenny Rogers Roasters that you can find HERE.

A new Kenny Rogers' Roasters restaurant moved into Jerry's neighborhood directly across the street from Kramer's apartment.  The restaurant installs a giant neon red chicken sign that illuminates Kramer's apartment every night and begins disrupting his sleep schedule.  Kramer begins a protest against the restaurant and hangs a bedsheet painted with "Bad Chicken" out his window to hurt business.  Kramer convinces Jerry to switch apartments so that he can finally get some sleep. Over the next few days, Jerry begins to take on Kramer's zany mannerisms while Cosmo calms down into Jerry's persona.

Meanwhile, Jerry runs into Seth, an old college friend, and convinces Seth to blow off a work meeting for lunch.  Later, Jerry discovers it was a critical meeting, and Seth had gotten himself fired, leading to the memorable line, "But, I only knew you through Moochie!"  I don't know who Moochie is or why it's so funny, but it's a line that always stuck out to me.  Seth later gets hired at Kenny's as an Assistant Manager.

Elaine, recently the acting President of J. Peterman catalog, goes shopping with George and purchases several extravagant items on the Peterman charge card.  One such item is a giant sable fur hat for George "just because."  One of the accountants at Peterman discovers the charges, and Elaine explains away each item as a "necessary business expense" like using the Waterpik toothbrush to water her office plants.  The accountant demands to see the fur hat, but George had left it behind at his date's apartment the night before.

Heather was not that interested in seeing George again, so he does his patented "leave behind," where he leaves an item on purpose as an excuse to see her again to get the item back.  When the accountant points out that the hat costs $8,000, Elaine forces George to go get it back, but Heather claims she doesn't have it.  George steals her clock as an attempt at a third date and tells Elaine that being with him is like a commercial jingle where at first it's annoying, but after a few encounters it's "Co-Stanz-A" (to the "By Mennen" tune)

Jerry, living in Kramer's apartment, has been awake all night talking to Kramer's friend Bob Sacamano who just happens to sell Russian fur hats down in Battery Park.  Peterman's accountant isn't convinced because Bob Sacamano's hats are made of rat fur and not expensive sable.  Elaine sets off for the jungles of Burma to find Mr. Peterman to save her job, and George gets a phone call from Heather, who, like the jingle theory, can't get George out of her head.  He thinks she wants to exchange the hat for her clock, and when he produces the clock, she is disgusted by him stealing from her and leaves, never having had the hat to begin with.

Through all of this, once moved out of his apartment, Kramer secretly becomes addicted to the chicken.  A personal favorite often-quoted line in my house, and likely my favorite line in the entire series, Jerry finds his neighbor Newman ordering his meal that sounds suspiciously like something Kramer would order.  When Jerry notices that Newman orders broccoli, he asks Newman to prove it to be his.  After popping a broccoli spear into his mouth, Newman spits it out, almost immediately shouting "VILE WEED!" 



Shortly after, Jerry accidentally sabotages the restaurant with George's fake Russian rat-fur hat, shutting down the restaurant and with it the glowing red sign.  At the end of the episode, Kramer is in bed, enjoying a box of chicken when the neon sign goes out.  With a mouth full of chicken, he whimpers for Kenny to return.

The real Kenny Rogers Roasters initially wanted no part of this episode, claiming the scene in which Jerry covers everyone's food with the rat fur hat would be bad publicity for them.  The writing staff claimed they would alter the storyline, but after Kenny's agreed to participate, they did not remove the scene.  Kenny Rogers himself supported the entire episode because it was great free advertising for his restaurant, and the company supplied the cast and crew with catered dinners.

You may also notice that after Kramer moves into Jerry's apartment, the Superman statue that was a fixture on Jerry's bookshelf was suddenly replaced with Kramer's fusilli Jerry statue, first seen in Season 6's "The Fusilli Jerry" episode.  Peterman's antics in Burma was a direct parody of Colonel Kurtz in the film Apocalypse Now.

After switching apartments, Jerry suggests Kramer get rid of some things, one being the doll Mr. Marbles.  Jerry fears Mr. Marbles will come to life in the middle of the night and kill him, Kramer assures him Mr. Marbles is harmless, but once back in his own bed, Jerry awakens in the night to a silhouette of a doll shaped figure shuffling through his bedroom.  This scene is meant to be a nod to the serial killing doll Chucky from the Child's Play series.

4.  The Trip Parts 1 and 2 - S4 E1 and E2 - Originally Aired August 12 and August 19, 1992

Another two-part episode makes my list, but I don't consider it cheating even if this one did air on two different days, unlike number 7 "The Bottle Deposit."  "The Trip" is another one that tickles my travel bone and gives me specific memories of being in my college dorm watching reruns with friends.

The previous season finale, "The Keys," ended with Kramer running off to Los Angeles after Jerry took his spare keys back because Kramer had become too invasive.  Part 1 of "The Trip" opens Season 4, with Jerry offering a free ticket to George to accompany him to Los Angeles.  Jerry is booked on the Tonight Show, and he wants to look up Kramer while he's there.  George, of course, agrees to the free trip.  At the airport, another quotable line from people in the airline industry comes when Jerry sets off the metal detector and gets patted down; he shouts, "I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!"

Arriving at the hotel, Jerry is on the phone looking for information about Kramer, and George is busy soaking in the amenities.  The maid, Lupe, enters with more towels, and George gets into a "tuck or no-tuck" conversation about the sheets.  

I prefer no-tuck, myself.  

Meanwhile, Kramer is going on several auditions without any luck.  At one point, he begins hanging around a young woman he met at an audition, and while at a coffee shop, Kramer scares away a young Fred Savage trying to get him to read his "treatment."  During this time, a series of murders takes place in L.A., and the police are determined to find the culprit.  The woman Kramer had been hanging with ends up dead in another part of the city, and Kramer's script and headshot are found on her body, making him the prime suspect.

Over at the Tonight Show, George has conversations backstage with guests Corbin Bernsen and George Wendt that he thinks went well, but on the show, they both call him a nut and make fun of him.  Jerry can't remember the wording for a joke and blames the hotel maid, Lupe, who threw the joke away while cleaning the room.  Leaving the Tonight Show, the duo sees Kramer's picture on the news as the main suspect as the "Smog Strangler."

In the opening of Part 2, Jerry and George call the police using a payphone to say they have relevant information regarding the Smog Strangler.  Two policemen in a cruiser pick them up and head back to the station, but along the way, they see a man, played by Clint Howard, trying to break into a car.  They arrest him and put him in the back with George and Jerry.  Jerry and the man get into an argument about tipping, ending with the classic line from Clint Howard "Ann Landers Sucks!"  The police get a call about the Smog Strangler, and they discover they are very close to the last known location and stop again.  Jerry and George, thinking Kramer is in the area, open the door and follow.  Clint Howard escapes the police car when George leaves the door open.

Meanwhile, Kramer is taken into custody and is interrogated by the lieutenant.  Typical Kramer is nonplussed by the whole thing, knowing his innocence.  Jerry and George arrive at the station and talk to Kramer through the glass, and he tells them he'll be out in no time.  Kramer is again interrogated but is released when another murder occurs while he was in custody.  Jerry and George meet with Kramer once he's freed, and Jerry apologizes over the whole spare key argument.  Kramer is emotionally moved but decides to stay in California.  Days after returning home, Jerry and George are in Jerry's apartment, and Kramer has surprisingly returned to New York, once again living across the hall.  Jerry returns the spare keys to Kramer as the show ends.

In the final scene, the Smog Strangler is revealed to be Clint Howard, the same man George and Jerry let escape from the police car.  The news anchor calls him a "generous tipper."

The actor portraying the cop riding shotgun in the scene where George and Jerry are in the back of the squad car would later play Elaine's boyfriend, Jake Jarmel.  Elaine herself did not appear in either part of "The Trip" and appears only minimally in the following episodes "The Pitch" and "The Ticket" because Julia Louis-Dreyfus was on maternity leave.  

3.  "The Pen" - S3E3 - Originally Aired October 2, 1991

The Pen is another episode that involves travel (catch the theme yet?) and reminds me of visiting my folks at their Florida condo.  Elaine and Jerry have flown to Florida for the weekend to visit Morty and Helen Seinfeld, who reside at the Pines of Mar Gables "Phase 2."  Jerry and Elaine have plans to go scuba diving the next day, against Helen's wishes.

Much like my parent's place in Florida, the Seinfelds refuse to use the air conditioner, which is Elaine points out several times.  Morty's rival Jack Klompus and his wife Doris come over to settle up with Morty over the previous night's dinner, and Jerry notices Jack's pen.  After asking about it, Jack tells him that it writes upside down and is the same pen astronauts use.  Jack offers an interested Jerry the pen, and Jerry accepts, saying he writes his material in bed, and his pens never work upside down.  As soon as the Klompus' leave, Helen asks why he took the pen and says he should give it back because Doris will tell everyone in the complex that Jerry made Jack give him the pen.

Elaine sleeps on a sofa bed in the guest room with a bar that sticks up through the mattress.  Along with the heat from lack of air conditioning, Elaine has a very rough night and wakes up in so much pain she can't move.  We've all been there on a friend's pullout.  My poor parents slept on one at my house when they'd visit until my Dad let it slip he'd been sleeping on an air mattress without telling us it was so uncomfortable.  Needless to say, we bought them a memory foam mattress that day.  I digress.

Jerry tries to comfort her in the first of two scenes breaking down the days by saying, "Well, today's almost over. And weekdays always go by fast. Friday, we're leaving. It's like two days, really. It's like a cup of coffee. It will go by like that."  I used this quote once in ground school after my airline was bought and merged with another airline, and no one wanted to really be there since we were all being demoted by the new company who just filed bankruptcy, and we were all taking a pay cut.  They extended our training by a few days, and I pulled this one out.... nobody got it or was amused.

The next morning Elaine's back is so sore she can't go scuba diving with Jerry, but he goes without her, and Morty offers her muscle relaxants to ease the pain, but she declines.  Meanwhile, as Helen predicted, their neighbor Evelyn tells the Seinfelds about the rumors spreading around the Pines that Jerry wanted Jack's pen.  When Jerry returns, he has black eyes because the capillaries around his eyes burst from the pressure of his mask underwater.  Elaine is lying on the floor and has begged Morty and Helen to turn on the air conditioning several times.  They have never used it, and Morty doesn't even know how to turn it on.  Much like my mother, when I request the air condition, Helen is wrapped in sweaters and blankets while everyone else is finally comfortable.

Jack comes over again, and Jerry returns the pen.  Morty berates Jack for taking back "Jerry's pen."  Elaine decides she finally wants the muscle pills but takes a slight overdose and begins acting goofy at the ceremony honoring Morty Seinfeld as the last year's president of the condo association.  This gives us the oft-played clip of Elaine screaming, "STELLA!"

During dinner, Jack Klompus turns the ceremony into a roast, making cracks about Morty at the podium.  Morty argues with Jack about the pen, and they start fighting.  Jack's dental work is broken in the process, which later prompts a lawsuit.  The next day, a chiropractor looks at Elaine's back and tells her she shouldn't go anywhere for five days, extending her and Jerry's stay even longer much to their discomfort.  

This is the only episode of the show in which George does not appear.  Jason Alexander, who played George, threatened to quit the show over the script, not featuring his character.  Alexander would later claim he had anxiety and was insecure in his role and was worried that Elaine would eventually replace him as the second lead.  This is also one of two shows that Kramer does not appear (the other being "The Chinese Restaraunt.")

2.  "The Airport" - S4E12 - Originally Aired November 25, 1992 

I know, another travel episode.  And this one on airplanes!  So much of this is an exaggerated look at what I go through daily as an airline pilot.  I love this episode. It's hysterical and true to life. I easily could have made this my number one on my list.  Personally, I enjoy that the plane changes from a DC9 to a Southwest Airlines 737 to more throughout the episode, but that's the airplane nerd in me.

Jerry and Elaine are returning home from St. Louis after Jerry has finished his show, and Elaine had spent time with her sister.  Jerry thought he had timed the rental car return perfectly, but the shuttle van driver leaves them behind, having heard their yelling but drives off anyway.  Been there, done that.  After finally arriving at the terminal, Elaine objects to Jerry, paying the skycap's suggested tip of "$5 a bag."  Jerry tips him the requested amount, and his bags are placed nicely in the "JFK" pile while the skycap tosses Elaine's onto the stack for "Honolulu."

After running through the airport, they find their flight to JFK is canceled, but they are rebooked on a flight to LaGuardia.  Unfortunately (for Elaine), the flight only has one seat in coach and one in first class.  Jerry snags the first-class seat, arguing that since Elaine has never flown first class, she won't know what she's missing, and from the moment they get on board, they are treated like two different class citizens.  The Flight Attendant is rude and surly to Elaine but overly cheerful and friendly to Jerry.

Elaine has to squeeze into a cramped middle seat next to rude, obnoxious passengers. In contrast, Jerry gets seated next to a fashion model, Tia Van Camp (played by Jennifer Campbell), with plenty of room to stretch out and a steady flow of food, wine, and dessert.

Jerry had previously bet George that he could reach the awning on his apartment building in one jump, and George failed miserably.  As payment on the bet, George would be responsible for the "airport pickup."  Along with Kramer, he heads to JFK airport to pick up Jerry and Elaine but gets caught up in traffic and arrive late.  Relieved to find they have time due to the switched flight, they head over to the other airport.

Midflight, while Jerry is dining on fine foods in first-class, Elaine needs to use the restroom.  She first must awaken the man next to her, who refused to check his luggage.  He has all four of his bags in his lap, and he refuses to move, so Elaine just climbs over top of him, falling into other passengers on the other side of the plane.  
When she exits the bathroom, she catches the tail end of the Captain's announcement that they are diverting to JFK due to runway trouble at LaGuardia.  She asks other passengers what the Captain said, but nobody fills her in.  She also finds that the dinner service is already in progress but cannot return to her seat because of the Flight Attendant's service cart.  After returning to her seat, she finds only "the Kosher meal" is left, and Larry David's voice appears saying he "forgot" that he was the one that ordered the Kosher meal, and he had eaten hers.
As Jerry sleeps cuddled comfortably with the model, Elaine slips into first-class when nobody is watching.  As she falls asleep in the luxurious seat, the Flight attendant kicks her out.  Jerry comments on the disturbance and returns back to sleep as he snuggles closer to the model.

George and Kramer head back to JFK and kill time in the gift shop.  George picks up the last copy of Time magazine since Jerry was supposed to have mentioned George.  Another customer argues he has more right to the magazine since he is on the cover with the headline "Caught!"  George realizes his travel companions are a police escort and suddenly grows brave, taunting him with the magazine as he is dragged away.  Kramer sees a man that looks like his former roommate, Grossbard, who owes him money from twenty years ago.  Kramer hatches a scheme to buy tickets for Grossbard's flight, board it, get his money back, get off the plane, and then refund the tickets.  George wants in on the scheme to get the frequent flier miles; however, he mistakenly trusts Kramer, who buys non-refundable tickets.

The two board the plane, and Kramer confronts Grossbard, who denies even knowing Kramer.  Kramer attempts to grab his wallet, which causes a scene with security.  During this, George is waiting for the bathroom.  When the door opens, the prisoner that George taunted earlier is standing inside.  He pulls George in and locks the door.  Meanwhile, Kramer escapes the security guards and runs away.

After Jerry and Elaine's plane lands, Jerry catches a glimpse of Kramer running across the tarmac.  Tia gives Jerry her number while she is followed out of baggage claim by paparazzi as Elaine scowls.  Back in New York, Kramer comes sliding down the baggage chute.  After dusting himself off, the three leave together.  George, however, is airborne, screaming into the ether.  They bookend the show with the great clip of Elaine's bag arrives on a baggage carousel in Honolulu. 

Tia appears several times throughout the series, most notably again in the very next episode "The Pick," where she catches Jerry picking/scratching his nose.  She appears again a few times whenever Calvin Klein is involved.  As mentioned before, Larry David's voice makes another guest appearance as the passenger who forgot he ordered his Kosher meal.  The writer for this episode, Larry Charles, is the man who blew up the bathroom on the plane before Elaine heads in.

I always wondered why George, when taunting the prisoner, said, "But you are, Blanche.  You ARE in shackles!"  Why would he call him Blanche?  According to the internet Seinfeld community, it's a reference to "What Ever happened to Baby Jane?" where Baby Jane delivers a line to the wheelchair-bound Blanche Hudson.

And Finally...

1.  The Hamptons - S5E21 - Originally Aired May 12, 1994

Does it surprise you that my number one is also a "road trip" episode?  Living on Long Island near the Hamptons doesn't hurt this episode in my view, either.  There's just something about a road trip for a beach weekend vacation that makes this my number one.  It also doesn't hurt that it created one of the most memorable and quotable Seinfeld inventions of all time... "shrinkage."

The gang of four travel to the Hamptons to finally "SEE THE BABY!" that Jerry and Elaine's friend Carol and Michael constantly insist.  George is joined by his girlfriend Jane and Jerry's girlfriend Rachel will arrive later in the day.  Rachel, you may remember from the episode "The Raincoats" when she and Jerry are caught making out during Shindler's List, is finally allowed to see Jerry again after Jerry apologized to her father.  She is meeting the gang later after taking the train in from the city while George and his girlfriend Jane drive separately.  
On the drive, George opines about how at this current moment, he can't touch her, but given what he expects to occur that night, he'll have the green light to feel her body any time he wants.  Upon arrival, George is insistent on getting his mother a batch of Hampton's tomatoes, but Jane decides to stay behind.  At the beach, Jane goes topless in front of Jerry, Kramer, and Elaine while George is gone.

While they recover from the sight of a topless Jane, Jerry and Elaine finally go in to see the baby.  The baby is so ugly they both need to catch their breath.  Before leaving the nursery, the baby's doctor, Ben, describes Elaine as breathtaking.  However, much to her chagrin, he uses the term breathtaking to describe the ugly baby as well.  Apparently, the pediatricians in the Hamptons not only make house calls but spend the weekend, too.

Meanwhile, Kramer is out walking the beach and finds a lobster trap full of enough lobster for everyone.  While everyone is excited about the lobster, Kramer lets it slip to George that everyone saw his girlfriend topless.  George is infuriated and demands restitution from Jerry in seeing Rachel naked.  
Later in the afternoon, Elaine warns George while passing in the hallway that Rachel is changing, so George barges into her room, but she hasn't yet taken off her clothes.  Jerry gets angry, and George makes the excuse he was looking for gum to chew because swimming makes him cold, and the chewing warms him up. 

A while later, Rachel mixes up directions to the baby's room and enters George's bedroom as he's changing his clothes after swimming.  She gives him the once over and laughs while looking at his lower half before backing out away.
George tries in vain to convince Jerry to explain to her that it was not his "normal size," and this leads to a pop culture changing moment.  This leads them to ask Elaine if she has ever heard of "shrinkage" before.  Elaine responds with, "It shrinks?" crushing George's hopes of Rachel understanding his predicament.  That night at dinner, Rachel declines to eat the lobster since it's not kosher.  Michael, whose father was a commercial fisherman, is distraught to find out that Kramer stole the trap full of lobster.

On the patio, Elaine asks Ben the pediatrician about the use of his word breathtaking.  He answers, "sometimes you say things like that just to be nice," leaving Elaine more confused than ever.  A loud noise interrupts conversation late at night as Jane suddenly drives back to New York.  George finds out she had just had a conversation with Rachel, and he blames her for telling Jane about his less-than-normal sized situation.  
At breakfast the next morning, George has cooked everyone a full breakfast, which everyone finds out-of-this-world delicious.  George earns his revenge by cooking the eggs with the leftover lobster and getting Rachel to eat it unsuspectingly.  After she leaves the table upset for breaking Kosher, George goes to apologize, and this time successfully sees her naked.  Police arrive at the door searching for a lobster poacher, and a still upset Michael rats out, Kramer.  Unable to pay his fine, he must pick up garbage on the side of the road for community service.  While driving home, George, Jerry, and Elaine stop at a tomato stand, and Rachel throws tomatoes in George's face.

"The Hamptons" was the produced as the fifth season finale, although it aired as next to last, while "The Opposite" was chosen as the finale.  This episode is famous for giving new the world a new word in "shrinkage."  Peter Mehlman, a writer for the series, takes credit for using the phrase with enthusiastic approval from Larry David.  Conversely, Mehlman points to David for another Seinfeld-ism that influenced pop culture in a later episode "sponge-worthy."

So, there you have it.  My top 10 Seinfeld episodes.  Do you agree?  Leave a comment below with your top ten!