Se­in­feld re­vis­ited

New book out about, you know, yadda, yadda, yadda

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

Eigh­teen years ago, in one of the most an­tic­i­pated mo­ments in Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion his­tory, fans of Se­in­feld ob­sessed over the se­ries end­ing its nine-sea­son run and strug­gled with say­ing good­bye to one of the most in­flu­en­tial, hi­lar­i­ous and suc­cess­ful come­dies of all time.

In a sense, though, the farewell wasn’t en­tirely nec­es­sary.

The show has lived on in per­pe­tu­ity, with re­runs broad­cast daily in nearly ev­ery cor­ner of the United States. And, in fits and spurts, we’ve been sa­ti­ated with both ex­ten­sions of the show and glimpses into the mak­ing of it.

Jerry Se­in­feld re­sumed his stand-up life, reg­u­larly giv­ing au­di­ences a chance to ask ques­tions about the show, and started Co­me­di­ans in Cars Get­ting Cof­fee, which has in­cluded ap­pear­ances by Se­in­feld co-cre­ator Larry David and co-stars Michael Richards and Ju­lia Louis-Drey­fus. David gave birth to a se­ries, Curb Your En­thu­si­asm, made of pure Se­in­feld DNA, and even built a sea­son around a reunion of the ear­lier show. In­ter­views, panel dis­cus­sions and out­takes have been abun­dant, and easy to viewvia YouTube.

Even though the show has never re­ally gone away, we still crave more — more on the Low Talker and Bob Sa­ca­mano, on cof­fee-ta­ble books and mas­ter­ing your do­main and achiev­ing Seren­ity Now. The pro­lif­er­a­tion of so much ma­te­rial likely com­pli­cates an au­thor’s abil­ity to add some­thing newto the con­ver­sa­tion, though, and de­spite her no­ble ef­forts in Se­in­fel­dia, Jen­nifer Keishin Arm­strong does lit­tle to broaden per­spec­tive on the show for its most ar­dent fans.

Though Arm­strong spoke to nu­mer­ous writ­ers and oth­ers in­volved in Se­in­feld, the new light they shed is lim­ited. The book did not in­clude fresh con­ver­sa­tions with the main char­ac­ters or David, re­ly­ing in­stead on other pub­lished com­ments and the afore­men­tioned litany of eas­ily avail­able sources. With­out key play­ers, we’re brought dis­cus­sions on the pe­riph­ery: with the re­al­life Kramer, the theme song’s com­poser, the woman whose face adorned a movie poster for the in-show movie Rochelle, Rochelle. Not that there’s any­thing wrong with that. But it leaves you won­der­ing why we couldn’t come away with juicier morsels from more of the many hun­dreds in­volved in the show.

Couldn’t the au­thor even track down more mem­bers of the fas­ci­nat­ing pa­rade of an­cil­lary char­ac­ters who might of­fer some new sto­ries? Not Jerry Stiller, who played Ge­orge Costanza’s fa­ther? Not Wayne Knight, of New­man fame? Not the ac­tors be­hind David Puddy or J. Peter­man or Su­san Ross?

It’s not that in­ter­est­ing threads are com­pletely miss­ing from Se­in­fel­dia. We learn of a scrapped episode in which Elaine weighed buy­ing a hand­gun, of Richards’ aloof­ness on the set and of a York Pep­per­mint Pat­tie stand­ing in as the famed air­borne Ju­nior Mint to make sure the cam­era could eas­ily track it.

Those glimpses are few. Deep into the book, in a chap­ter ex­am­in­ing whether a Se­in­feld curse doomed the cast from repli­cat­ing their suc­cess, you’ll find a telling quote from Ja­son Alexan­der. The pres­ence of a curse has eas­ily been dis­pelled by the suc­cesses of Veep, Curb and Co­me­di­ans in Cars, but Alexan­der’s words could eas­ily ap­ply to Arm­strong’s at­tempt. “The prob­lem with Se­in­feld,” he says, “is that mea­sur­ing up is no easy stan­dard.”


Jen­nifer Keishin Arm­strong’s new book on the pop­u­lar TV se­ries.

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