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Seinfeld - Seasons 1 & 2


TITLE: SEINFELD - SEASONS 1 & 2


Info:

DVD Release Date: November 23, 2004 (Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment)
Color/MSRP: $49.95
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 18
Running Time: Approx. 437 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: Approx. 13 hours
Languages: English (Stereo), French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Special Features: Notes About Nothing; Inside Looks; In the Vault (deleted scenes); 2 versions of the pilot episode; Not That There's Anything Wrong With That (outtakes and bloopers); Yada, Yada, Yada (6 creator and cast audio commentaries); Master of His Domain (Jerry Seinfeld stand-up comedy footage); How It Began documentary; Sponsored by Vandelay Industries (Original NBC promotional ads and trailers); Tonight Show footage featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Richards; Photo Gallery


Introduction:

The show about nothing has finally arrived on DVD. Considered one of the most innovative, popular and successful TV comedy series of all time, Seinfeld's much anticipated DVD debut was on November 23rd with 2 individual volumes featuring seasons 1-3. Each volume includes approximately 13 hours of exclusive special features from the creative talents behind the show including all-new interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jason Alexander and more.

Seinfeld, which aired on NBC for nine years from 1989-1998 for 180 episodes, focused on four single friends living in New York. The show started very slowly and received the smallest order of episodes ever with only 4 picked up in 1990. It would not really pick up a large amount of viewers until it was moved to Thursday nights at 9:30PM after Cheers. The show changed the landscape of TV forever, leaving the air in 1998 as the number one Nielsen-rated show in both comedy and drama (I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show are the only other series that accomplished this feat). Seinfeld was nominated for an incredible 68 Emmy Awards, winning a total of 10 including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. TV Guide named it the #1 show of all time in its list of "50 Greatest Shows of All Time" list in May 2002.


Memorable Episodes / Notable Guest Stars:

Seinfeld probably didn't hit its full stride until the 3rd season, but there were some memorable episodes starting in season 2. Jerry takes Elaine to a dinner party and makes a comment about children who have ponies that offends the guest of honor in "The Pony Remark." Jerry gets an expensive suede jacket and meets Elaine's father in "The Jacket." Jerry, Elaine, and George stop for dinner and have to wait for a table in "The Chinese Restaurant." George leaves some nasty messages on his girlfriend's answering machine in the "The Phone Message." George thinks he's had a heart attack and later goes to a holistic healer in "The Heart Attack." Seinfeld didn't rely on big name guest stars especially in their early seasons. Lee Garlington played Claire the waitress in the pilot episode "The Seinfeld Chronicles", Lawrence Tierney played Elaine's father Alton Benes in "The Jacket", Michael Chilkis played Steve in "The Stranded," and Stephen Tobolowsky played Tor in "The Heart Attack." Some recurring characters were first seen in season 2 including Liz Sheridan as Jerry's mom Helen, Barney Martin as Jerry's dad Morty, and Len Lesser as Uncle Leo.


Packaging:

Volume 1 contains all 18 episodes of seasons 1 & 2. The outer box is blue and has the Seinfeld logo and a photo of the cast. I would have liked to see them use a season 1 photo for the dvd cover art. The back of the box gives a listing of the many special features. The main dvd box slides out from the bottom and features the same photo as the cover art only larger and with a white background.

There are 4 individual slimcases. The disc 1 slimcase has a photo of Jerry, disc 2 has Elaine, disc 3 has George, and disc 4 has Kramer. Again, I would question why they didn't use season 1 or 2 photos to keep a theme going. The back of the cases list the episodes with their titles with a small individual photo, short summaries, and special features. Since there were multiple storylines for most episodes, I would have liked to see more detailed episode descriptions along with the original airdates. The inside of the cases have a photo of Jerry's apartment. Disc 1 pictures Jerry and has season 1 episodes 1-5, disc 2 features Elaine and has season 2 episodes 1-5, disc 3 has George pictured with season 2 episodes 6-10, and Kramer (known as Kessler in the pilot episode) is shown on disc 4 with season 2 episodes 11-13. A small booklet is also included that lists the episode title breakdown by disc with the main actor and writing credits. I think it would have been even better if they listed the guest stars and original episodes also.


Menu Design and Navigation:

The menus are very creative and have an individual theme designed to resemble locations from the show on each disc. On the first disc, you hear an apartment doorbell and Jerry says to come on up and then you see the main menu screen which pictures Jerry's couch and kitchen. Various clips from the episodes are shown in small circles with the theme music playing in the background. There are 3 sub-menus on each disc for Episodes, Set Up, and Extras. Disc 1 sub-menus feature a bowl of cereal with the episodes listed on a side of a cereal box, a note on the fridge door, and a call box. Disc 2 has a photo of Monk's with the other sub-menus being on a menu board, phone, and check. Disc 3's main menu is the Chinese restaurant with the sub-menus being a table with fortune cookies, on a scroll by the door, and the guest book. Disc 4 shows a hospital room with the sub-menu information being listed on a x-ray, clipboard, and a doctor's notepad. For the Episodes sub-menu, there is a "Play All" button. You can choose the language and sub-titles in the Set Up area, and Extras lists all the special features in one area on each disc.


Video and Audio Quality:

Seinfeld has never looked better. The show has been newly enhanced in high definition. To provide the best picture and sound quality possible, Castle Rock Entertainment, which produced the show, returned to the original film elements and spent many months digitally remastering every episode in high definition. The original analog audio tracks went through a similar process. In addition to looking and sounding great, these episodes are the original NBC network versions and not the syndicated versions you see on cable or local tv stations that have 1-2 minutes edited out. The episodes are presented in their original production order (the order in which they were made) and not the original broadcast order, so the numbering on episode guides you view online could be different. There are 3 language tracks offered - English (Stereo), French, and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.


Special Features:

Most Seinfeld fans would have just been pleased with the episodes by themselves, but the extras add so much enjoyment and re-watchability to this set. Their were initial reports that some of the cast members weren't going to be part of the special features, but thankfully everyone participated and their interviews and insights add a lot to ths set. I will list the extras by episode below and then describe the other features later. Inside Looks are several minute short features that have interviews with the cast and creators that give some behind the scenes details as the episodes were created and filmed. There are a total 6 audio commentaries (Yada, Yada, Yada) on select episodes from the cast, creators, and writers. In the Vault features some deleted scenes that didn't make the final cut of the episodes. Notes About Nothing are little factoids with behind the scenes scoop and production notes that scroll on the screen as you watch the episodes. There are notes for every episode.

1-1. The Seinfeld Chronicles (Pilot) - There are two versions of the pilot episode included. It first aired on July 5, 1989. It was later rerun in 1990 and had a different opening theme/intro and closing credits. Inside Look has interviews with creator Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, NBC Executive Rick Ludwin, Castle Rock Executive Rob Reiner, Castle Rock Executive Glenn Padnick, Michael Richards, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. (4 minutes, 21 seconds)

1-2. Male Unbonding - Inside Look has interviews with Casting Producer Marc Hirschfeld, Julia-Louis Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Writer Matt Goldman, and Jerry Seinfeld. (2:38). There is a deleted scene that includes 2 different scenes at Jerry's apartment with Jerry, Elaine, and Hornung. (3:12)

1-3. The Stake Out - There is an introduction by Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. This was shown when the episode was rerun several years later after they had done 54 episodes. Jerry and Elaine kiss at the end. It was somewhat poor quality, probably from a videotape source. (:49) Inside Look features interviews with Larry David, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Director Tom Cherones, Marc Hirschfeld, Liz Sheridan who played Helen Seinfeld, and Barney Martin who played Morty Seinfeld. (5:23) They talk about how they wanted a harsher parent and how Barney replaced Phil Bruns who originally played Jerry's dad. There is a commentary on the episode by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. It seemed like they hadn't seen the episode in many years and their commentary is pretty sparse.

1-4. The Robbery - Inside Look has interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Matt Goldman, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Producer Tim Kaiser. There was an earthquake during filming of this episode. (2:17)

1-5. The Stock Tip - The only extra is the Notes About Nothing option.

2-1. The Ex-Girlfriend - There are 2 deleted scenes. George and Jerry talk about a kidnapping plan in one scene and Kramer eats canaloupe with George and Jerry in the other. (2:43)

2-2. The Pony Remark - Inside Look features interviews with Larry David, Tom Cherones, Marc Hirschfeld, and Len Lesser who played Uncle Leo. I like how they were able to interview the supporting actors and guest stars as not just the main stars. (3:02)

2-3. The Busboy - Inside Look has interviews with Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Glenn Padnick, Jason Alexander, and Tom Cherones. (3:08) There is an audio commentary with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards. They give some good behind the scenes details on the making of the episode.

2-4. The Baby Shower - Inside Look offers interviews with Writer Larry Charles and Jason Alexander. (2:03) Larry Charles does the commentary. He gives some interesting details and how it was innovative how they had a sitcom character killed in a fantasy sequence.

2-5. The Jacket - Inside Look has interviews with Larry David, Tom Cherones, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards (4:33) There is a deleted scene with Jerry and Elaine at the clothing store trying on some very baggy pants and then his suede jacket. (3:29)

2-6. The Chinese Restaurant - Inside Look offers interviews with Jerry Seinfeld, Writer's Assistant Karen Wilkie Newman, NBC Executive Warren Littlefield (NBC President during the shows run), Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, Larry Charles, Tom Cherones, and Michael Richards. (4:52) There is a deleted scene where George pulls a hamstring and tries to use the phone. (:59)

2-7. The Phone Message - Inside Look has interviews with Larry David and Glenn Padnick. (1:39)

2-8. The Apartment - Inside Look features an interview with Writer Peter Mehlman (2:29)

2-9. The Stranded - There is an episode introduction by Jerry Seinfeld. This episode was originally going to be broadcast during the second season on July 17, 1991 but did not air until the third season on November 27, 1991.. Jerry comes on before the broadcast of this episode and explains that it is from the time before George lost his job and he wanted to "let you know, that we know, you know." (:13)

2-10. The Statue - Inside Look features interviews with Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander. (3:19)

2-11. The Heart Attack - There is a deleted/extended scene of George bringing in an outside cucumber to Monk's. George thinks he is suffering a heart attack. There are more lines with George, Jerry, and Elaine in the hospital room. (5:12) The writer of the episode Larry Charles does the commentary.

2-12. The Revenge - There are 2 versions of this episode on the disc. In the original broadcast version, Larry David provided the voice for Newman. Wayne Knight was later cast as Newman and he did the voice when the episode aired in syndication although he is not seen onscreen. Inside Look has interviews with Larry Charles, Jason Alexander, Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tom Cherones, and Michael Richards. (4:02) Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards do the audio commentary.

2-13. The Deal - Inside Look offers interviews with Larry David, Warren Littlefield, Jerry Seinfeld, Peter Mehlman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jason Alexander. NBC wanted the show to have Jerry Elaine together as a couple and that's how they ended the season. (7:18) Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David provide the audio commentary.

Some of the other special features scattered on the discs include:

"Master of His Domain" (Disc 2) - This is some exclusive Jerry Seinfeld stand-up comedy footage that was shot for the show, but not shown in any episode. They filmed the stand up scenes on a small stage with an audience. (7:07)

"Not That There is Anything Wrong with That" (Disc 3) - One of my favorite features. There is 13 minutes, 41 seconds worth of never-before-seen-outtakes and bloopers. Hopefully, there will be more of these bloopers on future season releases. These are gold Jerry, gold!

"How It Began" - Making of Documentary (Disc 4) - This is a hour-long look at how Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David first came up with the idea of the show and how it almost didn't get made. You have the option to play it in 3 parts or you can play it all together as one feature. Numerous people are interviewed and they give a very good history on how the show was developed, characters were created, and actors were hired. It gives a good synopsis of the first few seasons. (1 hour, 4 minutes)

"The Tonight Show" TV Appearances (Disc 4) - Jerry's first appearance was on May 6, 1981 (6:32). He would appear many other times and then when the show started he appeared on May 30, 1990. (7:07). Michael Richards appears as Hollywood Fitness trainer Dick Williams in an appearance that aired March 2, 1989. Jay Leno was the guest host that night. You have the option of playing these segments all together or individually.

Sponsored by Vandelay Industries (Disc 4) - These are various original NBC promotional ads and trailers. There are a total of 9 spots that run 3 minutes, 48 seconds.

Spider-Man 2 Trailer (Disc 4) - I'm not sure why they included it. I hope there was a Seinfeld DVD commercial on the Spider-Man 2 DVD set for a little cross promotion.

Photo Gallery (Disc 4) - Features 47 publicity photos and scenes from episodes while the theme music is playing. Lots of great photos. Unfortunately, you don't have the option to scroll through them at your leisure. (3:14)


Final Comments:

Overall, this was an excellent release that fans had anxiously awaited. It was worth the wait. The first 2 volumes are the best tv on dvd sets that I've seen this year. It's been years since I've watched the show in reruns, so they appear fresh to me. There are many extras which will add hours of re-watchability even if you've seen the episodes many times. I will predict that this will soon be the top selling tv on dvd series on the market. I can't wait for seasons 4-9 to be released on DVD!


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars):

Video Quality: 4.8/5
Audio Quality: 4.8/8
Special Features: 5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 5/5
Overall: 4.9/5

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller on 12/17/2004

To order the Seasons 1 & 2 (Volume 1) DVD click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00005JLEX/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

You might also be interested in the Season 3 (Volume 2) set:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002UE1WQ/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

or the Seinfeld Gift Set which features Seasons 1-3 with a limited edition script with handwritten notes from Larry David, exclusive "Monk's Diner" salt & pepper shakers and collectible playing cards.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0002UE1X0/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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