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December 20, 2014

Seinfeld: The Parking Space

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 6th 2006 4:03PM
Seinfeld: The Parking Space
(S03E21)
I'm the only person I know who actually drives in New York. The funny thing is, the only reason why I drive is because I live 30 miles away from the city, and I tend to find that sometimes driving is much faster than taking the train. But if I were actually living there, I'd ditch my car in a nanosecond. Most people who live in New York don't own a car, because it's too tough to find parking and the subway can get them to just about anywhere they need to go.

So why are so many episodes of Seinfeld so auto-centric? Jerry has a car. Kramer has a car. George doesn't have a car here but eventually gets a car. Thank goodness for Elaine; she never got a car (and we find out later in the series that she's an illness-inducing driver). But, really, that ratio should at least be reversed, if not doubled (8 non-drivers for every driver, if you don't feel like doing the math). Oh, well. At least most of the driving-related episodes, including this one, are pretty good.

I've never heard of anyone fronting into a spot in such a tightly-packed parking environment as New York City. So the fact that Kramer's friend Mike Moffit fronts in -- especially in that huge '70s-era clunker -- was always kind of weird to me. But it's not illegal, which is why George and Mike spend the entire episode in a face-off over who had the rights to that space. But then again, if I were prattling on like George about the "science" of parallel parking -- "It's all geometry, knowing all
the angles, when to make that first turn and then when to swing it back in, that's the key." -- I'd deserve to lose that parking space.

Gotta love Mike, by the way. He's a weaselly little guy, but he tries to act all tough. He tells Kramer in private that Jerry's a phony, and his sorry explanation after Jerry tells him that Kramer let that detail slip is just something a weasel like him would say: "I meant it in a complementary way. I mean, you know when people say, 'He's bad', it really means he's good, that sort of thing? You know, slang." When Jerry asks him to use it in a sentence, he comes back with "Man, that Michael Jordan is so phony!"

Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus really shines as Elaine weaves the tale of being chased by thugs in a convertible, just to make sure Jerry doesn't care about the thunk that happened after George hit a pothole. The excited, panicky look in her face as she described the scene was just so well done, as is the timing she displays as she knocks the bag of pretzels on the floor just so she can pour out the Hennigan's as Jerry picks up the bag, making him think she just downed what looked like three shots of the stuff.

Ok, on to the "awards":

Best line: No great ones stand out, but here's a tie. When Jerry hears the thunk in his car, he yells at George, asking him what happened. George breaks down and goes, "I couldn't help it! Elaine moved the mirror, I got discombobulated." Elaine responds, "Oh, like you've ever been bobulated."
I also like when Jerry calls George "Indiana" after seeing the hat he bought at the flea market.
Best facial expression: See above re: Elaine's tale of being chased. I just love every expression she had during that story, especially when she said "I think it was a gun!"
Best Kramerism: When Kramer finds out Elaine and George didn't invite him to the flea market, he says you don't want to get on his bad side: "Because I'm like ice, buddy. When I don't like you, you've got problems." I also liked Jerry and Kramer sparring.

Observations and DVD tidbits:
  • I wish Mike would have come back sooner, but Lee Arenberg didn't come back as Mike until the Season Eight episode "The Susie."
  • This is the last episode filmed during Season Three; the season finale, "The Keys," was filmed the week before.
  • The driver of the ice cream truck is played by a man named Michael Costanza. He was a comedy friend of Jerry's. Don't know if George's last name came from him or not.
  • John Christian Gass, who played the little kid whose father's shop Jerry accidentally tells him is closing, and Maryedith Burrell, who plays his non-pregnant mom (Kramer thinks she's pregnant), come back two seasons later as the same characters in "The Non-Fat Yogurt."
  • Most of the scenes were shot outdoors on the four-storefront city lot. Director Tom Cherones and production designer Tom Azzari brought in bleachers and a studio audience to view these scenes, something that had never been done before in sitcom-dom. There was a reason for that; the audience couldn't hear anything and didn't laugh.
  • This is the only Seinfeld episode written by Greg Daniels, who went on to helm King of the Hill and the American version of The Office.
  • Because of production delays, they shot into the evening, which wasn't intended. That's why it seems like scenes suddenly go from bright sunlight to twilight to darkness. It actually ended up working for them, as it made it look more like the argument extended into the night.
  • The part of the second cop, who argued with his partner about who should get the spot, is played by Stan Sellers. Mark Curry of Hangin' with Mr. Cooper fame auditioned for the part.
Coming up later today... the season finale, and one of my favorite Season Three episodes.

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Tom Heintjes

I really like this episode. The dialogue crackles, as when Jerry is getting Kramer to "beg" for information about George and Elaine's whereabouts. And when George angrily reveals his baldness to the woman admiring his hat, it showed how deeply insecure he is (yet again). Also, I've always been amused by how little kids on "Seinfeld" are never cute but are always annoying little brats. This one is no exception...when Jerry lets it slip about closing the store, the kid starts freaking out..."You mean we won't have money for food?!" (Of course, this is the same brat who unspooled Jerry's cassette tape in "The Nonfat Yogurt"..."What the $#@% are you doing, you little piece of $#!$?")

In episodes like this, I always like to read the stores's signs to see what they advertise and what things cost. One day we'll watch these reruns and marvel at how cheap stuff was in the olden days!

September 06 2006 at 5:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SeanTubbs

I think the show is car-centric because while the show is based in NYC, production was in L.A., which requires a car to get around.

September 06 2006 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Sassone

Michael Costanza was a school friend of Seinfeld's. He later wrote a book about Jerry Seinfeld and also sued Seinfeld, Larry David, Sony and Castle Rock over using his name/likeness for the George character (even though the character is based on David). Not sure what happened to the case.

September 06 2006 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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