Seinfeld: Season 4
US Theatrical Release: 1992-1993 television season (Sony Pictures Television)
US DVD Release: May 17, 2005
Running Time: Approximately 552 minutes
Rating: N/ A
Video: 1.33:1 (Extra Features: 1.33:1)
Audio: English DD2.0, French DD2.0, Spanish DD2.0 (Extra Features: English DD2.0)
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish (Extra Features: Portuguese, Spanish)
TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: none)
Menus: Not animated
Packaging: Cardboard slipcase with 4 slim keepcases; 4-page insert lists episode credits.
THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 4/5
In its fourth season about “nothing,” Seinfeld really hit its stride. The central characters entered the national pop culture consciousness, the ratings started to take off, and the writing took chances that blew away an audience hungry for something new. Many of the episodes touched on previously unheard-of sitcom subjects (“The Contest;” “The Implant”), while others simply explored the realm of Bizarro TV (“The Trip;” “The Junior Mint”). Along the way, some of the most-repeated catchphrases ever to come out of the boob tube made their debuts:
“Master of your domain”
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that”
“They’re real – and they’re SPECTACULAR!”
In addition, some of the show’s most beloved characters made their first appearances in season 4, including George’s parents (Estelle Harris and Jerry Stiller). (Interestingly, George’s father was originally portrayed by John Randolph in “The Handicap Spot,” which was later partially re-shot with Stiller in the role. This set includes both versions of the episode.) “The Drake” (Rick Overton) also arrives on the scene. And, of course, the diabolically hysterical (in more ways than one) Newman (Wayne Knight), who debuted in season 3, pops in on a number of occasions.
This season is chock-full of classic episodes (see the Swag section of this review for a complete list). It kicks off with the two-part “The Trip,” which actually continues a storyline begun in the season 3 cliffhanger. In addition to being one of the very few (if not the only) 3-part sitcom episodes, it manages to take some very dark material, including a murdered character, and milk it for laughs without veering too far into bad taste. It’s followed by “The Pitch,” which begins a season-long, self-referential running plot about Jerry and George pitching a “show about nothing.” Not many 30-minute comedies have put as much effort into continuing stories as has Seinfeld, which has always been appreciated by its generally sophisticated audience.
Also featured in this season is “The Contest,” which is to this day 22 of the funniest minutes in the history of television. It doesn’t miss any opportunity for a laugh (in fact, the cast can clearly be seen struggling to maintain their composure throughout the episode). The subject matter, which is verbally danced around but never explicitly stated, is handled in a very clever way, and earned this one an Emmy and several other awards.
Seinfeld, more than perhaps any other program of recent years, has a real love-it-or-hate-it relationship with viewers. Its observational humor (which has held up better as situation comedy than as stand-up) doesn’t work for everyone, but those who do appreciate it tend to really devour the material. If one likes Seinfeld, then one probably loves Seinfeld. And for those few who haven’t yet made up their minds, it’s easy to find in syndicated heavy rotation to this day. For fans, season 4 is definitely a worthy addition to the collection – perhaps even the best season of all.
THE WAY I SEE IT: 2.5/5
The image is nothing special, but it’s OK considering the source material. Colors are overly saturated, and bleed a bit. Picture detail is pretty soft. Some digital artifacts are present, but they aren’t too distracting. There is also a bit of flickering. On the other hand, it still looks better than the reruns on cable.
THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5
The basic DD2.0 soundtrack is fine. Dialogue and music are crisp and clear. There isn’t much in the way of audio excitement here, but this track gets the job done.
THE SWAG: 4/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)
This set is chock-full of extra features that all together run in the neighborhood of 13 hours. Most of them are episode-specific, but a few standalone features are included as well. The quality runs the gamut from worthless (like Jerry Seinfeld’s nearly nonexistent commentary on “The Contest”) to hilarious (like the timeslot promos) and fascinating (like many of the “Inside Look” featurettes). The episode-specific features include “Notes About Nothing” (trivia subtitle tracks that also feature things like the “George Girlfriend Counter” and the “Kramer Entrance Counter”), “Yada Yada Yada” (commentaries), “In The Vault” (deleted scenes), and “Inside Look” featurettes that showcase new interviews with the cast and crew.
The Breakthrough Season (19:09)
This featurette includes interviews with the main cast, writers and producers about the development of the fourth season, when the show really broke out and became a big hit. There’s some fluff and a few clips, but overall, it’s worth checking out.
Regis & Kathie Lee Parody (4:39)
This is a bit that appeared on Live With Regis & Kathie Lee and involved members of the Seinfeld cast poking fun at the hosts. It’s good for a chuckle.
- The Trip Part 1: Inside Look (4:52); Deleted Scenes (2:06); Commentary with writer Larry Charles; Notes About Nothing
- The Trip Part 2: Commentary with writer Larry Charles; Notes About Nothing
- The Pitch/ The Ticket (1 Hour Episode): Inside Look (6:44); Notes About Nothing
- The Wallet: Deleted Scene (2:42); Notes About Nothing
- The Watch: Notes About Nothing
Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That (Bloopers) (21:11)
This absurdly long blooper reel contains some funny stuff. On the other hand, chapter stops would have been nice, as 21 minutes is a lot of giggling to view in one sitting.
Master Of His Domain: Exclusive Standup Material (8:03)
This featurette consists of various unused bits from the stand-up routines that bookend each episode. It’s cute, but unfortunately, a lot of Jerry’s observational stand-up humor hasn’t aged all that well.
- The Bubble Boy: Inside Look (4:39); Notes About Nothing
- The Cheever Letters: Inside Look (4:20); Deleted Scenes (3:38); Commentary with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards; Notes About Nothing
- The Opera: Inside Look (3:23); Deleted Scenes (3:05); Notes About Nothing
- The Virgin: Deleted Scene (0:51); Notes About Nothing
- The Contest: Inside Look (9:51); Deleted Scenes (2:02); Commentary With Jerry Seinfeld; Notes About Nothing
Sponsored By Vandelay Technologies (NBC Promos) (2:58)
A collection of funny promos featuring the cast reminding viewers that the show is moving to “9:30 Thursday after Cheers!”
1992 Olympic Promos (4:14)
These jokey “Seinfeld Olympic Moment” promo clips feature tie-ins to the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics. (Ironically, they all say “Seinfeld: Starting Wednesday August 12!”) Some of them are hysterical.
- The Airport: Inside Look (4:21); Deleted Scene (0:29); Alternate Ending (0:45); Commentary with writer Larry Charles; Notes About Nothing
- The Pick: Inside Look (3:27); Deleted Scenes (1:45); Notes About Nothing
- The Visa: Inside Look (1:41); Notes About Nothing
- The Movie: Deleted Scene (1:48); Notes About Nothing
- The Outing: Inside Look (5:16); Deleted Scenes (2:28); Commentary With Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards; Notes About Nothing
- The Shoes: Notes About Nothing
- The Old Man: Inside Look (4:08); Deleted Scenes (0:52); Alternate Ending (0:54); Notes About Nothing
- The Implant: Inside Look (3:49); Commentary with writer Peter Mehlman; Notes About Nothing
- The Handicap Spot: Original version with John Randolph as Mr. Costanza; Syndicated version with Jerry Stiller as Mr. Costanza; Introduction to original version with Jason Alexander (0:35); Inside Look (5:48); Notes About Nothing (original version only)
- The Junior Mint: Inside Look (4:47); Deleted Scene (0:59); Commentary with Jerry Seinfeld; Notes About Nothing
- The Smelly Car: Inside Look (3:03); Notes About Nothing
- The Pilot (Parts 1 & 2; 1 hour): Commentary with production designer Tom Azzari and Director/ Producer Tom Cherones; Notes About Nothing
SUMMING IT ALL UP
The Way I Feel About It: 4/5
The Way I See It: 2.5/5
The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5
The Swag: 4/5
At this point, most people will already know whether they’d be interested in purchasing season sets of Seinfeld. So the question here is whether season 4 is worth a look. The A/ V quality is not terribly exciting, although for a decade-old sitcom, it’s passable. The episode selection, on the other hand, is nothing short of classic – or should I say “spectacular!” If one were to select only a single season to buy, this would be a good choice. And for those wondering whether they should bother with DVDs of a program that’s still on TV several times a day in many markets, the astonishing amount of extra features provide a fine reason, even if a few of them are subpar. All told, this set is definitely RECOMMENDED.