Rated: Not Rated
Program Length: 553 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Languages: English (Stereo), French (Stereo)
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
It is indisputable that Seinfeld is the gold standard against which all DVD sets of television shows should be measured. The first eight seasons were beautifully transferred to DVD and packed with so many extras that they put most other television series sets to shame. The latest and final edition, Season 9, is certainly no exception.
Season 9 was the second season of Seinfeld in which co-creator Larry David was not involved (other than the final episode, that is, which he wrote). In his absence the show’s humor became broader during Season 8, and that trend continued into Season 9. Whether it is Kramer basting himself in butter or recreating the set of The Merv Griffin Show in his apartment, or Jerry impersonating “the voice” of his girlfriend’s navel, or George getting a sore back from his giant wallet, or Elaine drawing a cartoon which is published in The New Yorker, Season 9’s episodes by and large are zanier than what we saw during the first seven seasons. Regardless of the change in tone, however, the show continued to deliver plenty of laughs and some iconic moments.
Who can forget Festivus, the holiday which George’s father dreamed up to replace Christmas? “Festivus for the rest of us,” the “airing of grievances,” and “feats of strength” have become catchwords of our culture. What other television series would air an episode backwards? When Jerry begins to date his maid, is he paying her only for cleaning his apartment?
As always, there are a number of appearances by well-know guest stars. Kristin Davis (Sex and the City) reprises her role as Jenna, Jerry’s ex-girlfriend who is now going out with Kenny Bania. The late Gordon Jump (WKRP in Cincinnati) appears in two episodes as George’s boss at Play Now. Lloyd Bridges, who died two months before the final episode of Seinfeld aired, returns for one show as Izzy Mandelbaum. Other guest stars who appear during the final season include Wilford Brimley and Kathy Griffin.
The controversy surrounding the final season of Seinfeld centers on the final two-part episode, titled simply “The Finale.” Larry David was brought back to write the script and expectations were, to put it mildly, through the roof. The final product, which includes cameo appearances by many of the characters who appeared on the show over the years, was regarded as a disappointment by many fans of the show. Looking at it again nearly eight years later, “The Finale” seems to me to be much more satisfying than when I first saw it. I suspect that it may have been the rather downbeat ending which disturbed viewers at the time, much as many fans were troubled by the final episode of Season 7, when George’s fiancée died. However, as much as we enjoy Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer, there is no denying that they are self-centered and shallow people. Their comeuppance may ultimately be a more satisfying conclusion than if the show had ended on a happier note.
This is a complete list of all 24 episodes from season six:
The Butter Shave
The Serenity Now
The Junk Mail
The Merv Griffin Show
The Reverse Peephole
The Puerto Rican Day
The Chronicle Parts 1 & 2 (two-part “clips” show)
The Finale Parts 1 & 2
It should be noted that all nine season have been packaged together as Seinfeld – The Complete Series with a suggested retail price of $283.95. I have not seen that set, but it appears to include the same material that is found on the original DVD releases, but with special packaging and “The Official Coffee Table Book” (described as “a 226-page bound anthology filled with photos, quotes, and trivia from every episode”). The complete series set also has a bonus disc featuring a cast reunion (including Larry David).
The video looks pretty much the same as it does on the prior sets, which is to say that it looks very, very good. The images are sharp, the colors appear be accurate, and I was unable to spot any glitches. I doubt that anyone will have any complaints about how these episodes look.
The stereo audio is mixed very nicely and sounds fine to my ears. The dialogue is always clear and intelligible, which is vital to a comedy show which derives much of its humor from the repartee of the characters. The laughter from the live audiences enhances the humor but never intrudes upon the action on the screen. For those who own the prior eight seasons, the audio here is on a par with those sets.
No one who is familiar with the Seinfeld DVD sets will be surprised to learn that the supplements for Season 9 are plentiful, amusing and interesting. Seinfeld fans know what to expect – audio commentaries, deleted scenes, “Inside Looks” (comments from the actors, writers and directors about how some of the episodes were conceived and put together), and “Notes About Nothing” (explanatory notes about some of the events and references in each episode). Also included are three “Sein-Imation” segments, in which actual dialogue from the show is put to animation.
Disc 1 includes a 23-minute featurette entitled “The Last Lap.” Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards, and the producers and writers of the show discuss how they came to the decision to end the series after nine years. They also talk about the secrecy involved in putting together the final episode, and Larry David recalls how he reacted when many critics gave “The Finale” negative reviews.
There is even more. As in prior seasons, there is a blooper reel entitled “Not That There’s Anything Wrong with That.” The famous backwards episode, “The Betrayal,” can also be seen “front to back” as a special feature on Disc 2. Disc 4 includes a segment called “Scenes from the Roundtable,” which appears to be an edited version of the cast reunion which can be seen in its entirety on the bonus disc in the complete series box set.
The menu allows the choice of playing all episodes or selecting individual episodes. The extras for the individual episodes can be accessed from either the Extras menu or the menus for the individual shows. There is no ability to select scenes from individual episodes.
The packing is identical to the earlier sets of Seinfeld. The 24 episodes are spread out over four discs, each in its own slimcase. These are bundled into a slipcase which in turn fits into a cardboard outer case. There is also an insert which lists all 24 episodes, including production credits.
The Final Analysis
If you are a fan of Seinfeld, this is a no-brainer unless you would rather go for the complete series set. Either way, it is difficult to imagine that any fan of this very funny and iconic series will not want to own Season 9.
Equipment used for this review:
Toshiba HD-XA2 DVD player
Sharp LC-42D62U LCD display
Yamaha HTR-5890 THX Surround Receiver
BIC Acoustech speakers
Interconnects: Monster Cable
Release Date: November 6, 2007