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September 2, 2015

Seinfeld: The Dog

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 21st 2006 8:05PM
Seinfeld: The Dog(S03E04) This is one of the last episodes in Season Three that feels  like "early Seinfeld": slow plotting, a somewhat awkward dialogue rhythm, and the exploration of interpersonal relationships that actually makes it seem like the Fab Four are caring, functioning human beings. Don't worry, though; Larry David and company shook themselves of that notion pretty soon after they wrote this one.

The thing that's always bugged me about this episode is the Elaine - George plot. This is where Elaine and George find that they don't have anythng to say to each other unless it's about Jerry. They're "friends-in-law," as Elaine puts it. For some reason, I never bought this plot; we had seen the two interact without Jerry in the past and get along great.

In fact, the DVD's "Notes on Nothing" confirm this; it mentioned that George and Elaine conspired to poison George's boss' drink in the Season Two episode "The Revenge". It also mentioned some other plot points that get refuted later on in the series. But it's all a part of the overall Seinfeld pattern; don't worry about the details and just bring the laughter. That's why at alternate times Kramer's been a bath guy then a shower guy, and George extolls the virtues of urinals then says he's a stall guy. Larry David will break consistency in service of a joke. Except, that is, for George's fake career and phony name: He's used Art Vandelay and has always pretended to be an architect since the third episode. It's funnier that way.

We know the rest of this episode's plot: Jerry has to take care of a nutty dog, Farfel, because the drunkard sitting next to him on the plane asks him to after experiencing health problems; the Elaine-George issue leads to a treatise on "saving movies"; and Jerry and Elaine bad-mouth someone Kramer says he's breaking up with, only to get in trouble when the first breakup "doesn't take."

Ok, on to the "awards":

Best line: Another tie, both from Elaine. When Jerry tells her that he could get lockjaw from Farfel, she says, "If only."
The other line is when the drunkard, Gavin Palone, calls looking for Farfel. Elaine's taking care of him because Jerry wants to go out and is about to send the dog to the pound (remember, this is the caring Elaine of the first four or so seasons, not the cold, calculating Elaine of the rest of the series), and she's at the end of her rope. She tells him, "Yeah, well you better pick up your dog tonight or he has humped his last leg!"
Best Facial Expression: Elaine showing George how Jerry gargles.
Best Kramerism: "When we pass each other in the hall, you don't know me and I don't know you. I'm taking my pot."

Observations and notes from the DVD:
  • They actually had four actors come in and audition for the voice of Farfel the dog. They gave the part to voice actor Tom Williams.
  • Gavin Palone, the name of the drunk owner of the dog, is the name of Larry David's agent, who has a speaking part in the Season Four finale, "The Pilot". He's also an executive producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Gavin the drunk is played by veteran character actor Joseph Maher.
  • There's a deleted scene that explains why Farfel is so nutty; Kramer reveals that he's been feeding the dog Turkish Taffy that his aunt had sent him. He didn't want it, so he gave it to the dog. You can see in one of the scenes in the finished version of the episode that Kramer reaches into his coat pocket when entering Jerry's bedroom to see the dog; that was supposed to tie in to the deleted scene with the taffy plot point.
  • The posters at the movie theater are all for Castle Rock productions, mainly to avoid rights fees.
  • "Prognosis: Negative" is the name of a screenplay Larry David wrote in 1988. Of course, we'll hear that phrase again, in the classic Season Four episode (and my favorite), "The Junior Mint".

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For what it's worth, "Prognosis: Negative" is also a major plot point in the classic Bette Davis weepie, "Dark Victory."

June 21 2006 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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