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October 10, 2015

Seinfeld: The Alternate Side

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 2nd 2006 3:37PM
Seinfeld: The Alternate Side(S03E10) How many shows airing in 1991 would have had a plot revolve around breaking up with a man who had a stroke? I can tell you this much: even Roseanne Barr couldn't have thought of a such a dark plotline, but, for some reason, Larry David could. That's what made Seinfeld so great; it touched on topics that other sitcoms of its era never even dared to touch. And, though the characters do horrible things to each other and the people who come into their world, it was done in such a funny way that people latched onto these characters. It's a formula that's been tried over and over since without much success; just ask the producers of Arrested Development how hard it was to get people to like unlikable characters.

Anyway, this episode is where the first Seinfeld catchprase was born (see below), where we see some extraordinary effects of George's incompetence, and where we see Kramer get the acting bug, something that will become more important at the end of this season.

There's a lot of "small-subject" humor in this episode: When Elaine thinks she'll be "ostracized from the community" for breaking up with a stroke-addled Owen, Jerry asks "What community?" "There's a community," says Elaine. Also, the entire rental car transaction was something everyone has gone through at least once or twice. Oh, and then there's Sid, one of those "only in New York" characters; his sole job was to move people's cars because of the NYC's unique alternate-side cleaning rules. Episodes concentrating on the little stuff are usually the funnier ones, and this episode is no exception.

On to the "awards":

Best line: Jerry to the rental agent: "Yeah, you better give me the insurance, because I am gonna beat the hell
out of this car."
Best facial expression: The expressions that come over the disabled Owen March's face as Elaine breaks up with him (after feeding him some Navy Yankee bean soup, of course).
Best Kramerism: "These pretzels are makin' me thirsty!" (Could it be anything else?)

Observations and DVD notes:
  • The week before this episode aired, NBC aired for the first time a "lost episode" from Season Two called "The Stranded". If you recall, that episode guest starred Michael Chiklis from The Shield. Most episode guides count it as a Season Three episode, but since it's not on the Season Three DVD (and is starkly different in tone than Season Three's episodes), I decided to skip over it.
  • The incident in the episode where Jerry calls his car phone (heh... "car phone") after the car is stolen actually happened to Larry David. David provides the voice on the other end of the phone, by the way.
  • It's kind of interesting how Woody Allen's and George's lives intersect here -- George's parking ineptitude interrupts Woody's movie. If you remember, Jason Alexander's initial take on George in Season One sounded very much like a Woody Allen impression. He abandoned that when he finally realized that George was basically the fictional version of Larry David.
Stay tuned for later tonight, when I take on one of my favorite Season Three episodes...

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The car rental scene has always been my favorite...especially when the lady says "Sir, I know why we have reservations" and Jerry replies quite snippily, "I don't think you do!"

Also when Stan is reprimanding George for messing up the cars and he says that moving a car across the street doesn't take any more sense than putting on a pair of pants and follows it up with: "What I want to know is: Who's puttin' your pants on?"

August 03 2006 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, it's kinda nitpicky, but you're right. I fixed it. The heat must be getting to me.

August 02 2006 at 5:18 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Not to be too nerdy, but it's Yankee bean soup, not navy bean.

August 02 2006 at 5:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Tom Heintjes

You are so right...this episode was clicking on all cylinders. I love the part where the characters are all giving their interpretations of "These pretzels are making me thirsty." George's was so full of RAGE! It was great...then he storms over to the window and rages at the people on the street. You can see Jerry struggling not to crack up as George rushes past him.

Another GREAT moment in this one is something that everyone can relate to...where Jerry is explaining about how to "HOLD" the reservation. "Anyone can TAKE a reservation," while plucking things out of the air. That is one of my favorite scenes. ALL of the characters had brilliant material in this episode!

August 02 2006 at 3:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

3 shows come to mind ...

Reno 911
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Lovespring International

August 02 2006 at 3:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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