topics last updated: march 8, 2000  

Season 8



FIRST AIRED 9/19/96 WRITERS Berg/Schaffer DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS The Rosses establish a foundation in Susan's honor. To his disgust and surprise, George finds that (1) he's on the board of directors, and (2) his dead fiancée was worth millions. Elaine— now running the show, with burnt-out Peterman in Burma— fashions the Urban Sombrero. Kramer takes up karate. INTRODUCES Bruce Davison as Mr. Wyck, chairman of Susan's foundation. HISTORIC MOMENT No more opening stand-up; Seinfeld is now too busy picking up the creative slack in David's absence. CRITIQUE A solid return, capitalizing nicely, yet again, on an untimely demise. Kramer's encounter with the "little fists of fury," however, foreshadows the more slapsticky bent of this season. B+




FIRST AIRED 9/26/96 WRITER Mehlman DIR Ackerman SYNOPSIS Kramer's attraction to Jerry's new girlfriend, Pam (Kim Myers), makes a formerly blasé Jerry gaga over her. Elaine, in turn, is gonzo for her flighty equal, Kevin. George—thinking Wyck suspects him of guilt in Susan's death—pulls a "Jerry Lewis" and secretly tapes a foundation meeting. INTRODUCES Tim DeKay as Kevin, Bizarro Jerry in the next episode. HISTORIC MOMENT A boyishly cropped Elaine. CRITIQUE An agreeable paean to infatuation, despite an awful Jerry-chasing-Newman bit (see foreshadowing in previous CRITIQUE). B




FIRST AIRED 10/3/96 WRITER Mandel DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Jerry's whole system breaks down as George becomes a model magnet, Kramer becomes a nine-to-five suit, and Elaine takes up with a trio of new buds (Kevin, Gene, and Feldman), the sensitive, cerebral opposites of her current klatch. If that isn't enough, Jerry's dating Gillian (Kristin Bauer), a man-handed woman. CRITIQUE This Superman reference writ large makes for the first post-David masterpiece. Two inspired moments: Jerry's wifely bickering with ersatz exec Kramer and the sidewalk showdown between Elaine's two worlds. A




Elaine dancingFIRST AIRED 10/10/96 WRITER Feresten DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Elaine's dancing ("a full-body dry heave set to music") makes her an object of ridicule among her staff. When Peterman employee Anna (Rebecca McFarland) gets a crush on George, believing him to be a "bad boy," he eagerly makes like a latter-day Fonzie. Kramer's pistol-packin' pal Brody (Neil Giuntoli) forces Jerry to become a video-bootlegging auteur. CRITIQUE Jerry's and George's forays into delinquency pay off, but Elaine's spastic mutation of the Hitchhike provides the mother lode. Sweet fancy Moses! A




FIRST AIRED 10/17/96 WRITER Jennifer Crittenden DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS "Difficult" Elaine is shunned by the medical community. George pursues a misguided "dance" of seduction with photo-shop employee Sheila (Heather Campbell). Thanks to Kramer, Jerry is investigated for mail fraud. CRITIQUE Elaine is not nearly as difficult as watching this flaccid package. The medical-establishment-as-conspiratorial-secret-society gambit is a loser, and so is an overused Newman; like any pungent seasoning, he's best in small amounts. C-




FIRST AIRED 10/31/96 WRITERS Kavet/ Robin DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS It's mentor madness, as Jerry, Elaine, and George find themselves guiding the careers of hack Ovaltine comic Bania, soldier-of-fortune mail-room guy Eddie Sherman (Ned Bellamy), and risk-management student Abby (My So-Called Life's A.J. Langer). Kramer's hosting of a Jewish singles night provokes Frank Costanza's Platoon-like memories of a Korean War cooking debacle. CRITIQUE Bania's wide-eyed rankling ("That's gold, Jerry, gold!") just slays us, as does most of this military-tinged romp. B




FIRST AIRED 11/7/96 WRITERS Steve O'Donnell/Gammill/Pross DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Jerry (very) modestly cashes in on Japanese stardom thanks to a spot on The Super Terrific Happy Hour. Kramer puts up a trio of Japanese tourists. Elaine dates Überyuppie Brett (James Patrick Stuart), a "Desperado" devotee who won't share his song. HISTORIC MOMENT Wilhelm is abducted by the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners cult. CRITIQUE A plethora of in-jokes (references to the Urban Sombrero, the NBC pilot, Jerry's stand-up act, etc.) and one unforgettable image—the Japanese bunking in Kramer's dresser—make this B-worthy. Our weariness with yet another eccentric-to-the-max Elaine boyfriend demotes it to a B-.




FIRST AIRED 11/14/96 WRITERS Berg/ Schaffer DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Kramer's Newman-abetted Kenny Rogers Roasters addiction overcomes his initial boycotting of the chain. Elaine's expense-account abuse takes her to Burma in search of Peterman and sends George on a misguided pursuit of a hat saleswoman. CRITIQUE An episode as unconvincing as Seinfeld's acting (highlighted here in a brief Jerry- and-Kramer identity switch) is salvaged by Kramer and Newman's clandestine gluttony. B-




FIRST AIRED 11/21/96 WRITER Steve Koren DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS George's forced celibacy turns him into a Phenomenon-style brainiac. Elaine dates a doofus almost-doctor, Ben (Bob Odenkirk), and tries the no-sex route, with brain-draining results. Kramer's at-home smoking lounge ends in a tobacco-company lawsuit. HISTORIC MOMENT We learn of a second alma mater that Jerry and George share, Edward R. Murrow Junior High School, when Jerry is bumped from their Career Day. CRITIQUE Another foray into bizarro land as Elaine and George become mental opposites. But we don't mind repetition when it yields such smart comedy. Bonus points for the David Letterman closer. B+




FIRST AIRED 12/19/96 WRITER Feresten DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS To score a two-bedroom apartment, George must convince a tenant board he's more pathetic than a shipwreck survivor. Big-headed Elaine dates bad breaker-upper Alan (Tom Gallup). Newman's dreams of a Hawaii transfer get surprising support from Jerry. M.D.-hating Kramer seeks a doggy-style cure for his cough. CRITIQUE With Kramer channeling Lassie and George playing the victim to the hilt, how can you miss? B




Little JerryFIRST AIRED 1/9/97 WRITER Crittenden DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Kramer buys a rooster and is soon running afoul of cockfighting impresario/deli owner Marcelino (Murder One's Miguel Sandoval). George finds out that fugitive sex is even better than conjugal-visit sex when convict squeeze Celia (Andrea Bendewald) breaks out and pops in. Elaine encourages bald-by-choice Kurt (John Michael Higgins) to grow his hair back, only to find he's losing it. CRITIQUE Jerry and Kramer training their champion pecker had us howling—a mere moment in a media hora muy excellente. A-




FIRST AIRED 1/16/97 WRITER Mehlman DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Financial insecurity abounds: George worries that his parents are blowing his nest egg; Elaine finds herself demoted when Peterman returns; and the Seinfelds, fearing Jerry's broke (after he bounces a check at Marcelino's in 137), sell the Cadillac to Jack Klompus. CRITIQUE Awash in comic transactions but bankrupt nonetheless. C




FIRST AIRED 1/30/97 WRITERS Kavet/Robin DIR. Trainor SYNOPSIS George is insulted during a Yankees lunch meeting and becomes obsessed with delivering his (he thinks) brilliant "jerk store" retort. Abysmal tennis player and pro-shop manager Milos (Mark Harelik) recruits Jerry to help him save face. Elaine begins a phone affair with mysterious video-store cineaste Vincent. Kramer drafts a living will. CRITIQUE George has a vindictive field day. And once again the show milks ethnicity for laughs, this time with pompous yet inept Eastern Bloc émigré Milos. B




FIRST AIRED 2/6/97 WRITER Darin Henry DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Jerry dates Ellen (Christine Taylor), a "fantastic" woman who nevertheless appears to have no friends. (George to Jerry: "Every group has [its loser]—like us, with Elaine.") George selects a kindred spirit as the first Susan Ross Foundation scholar—underachieving liar Steven Koren (Jed Rhein). Peterman co-opts Kramer's life stories for his autobiography. CRITIQUE George's sponsorship of his deceitful protégé is abandoned too soon (in favor of the dopey Van Buren Boys angle), as is the Ellen-as-social-pariah concept. And Kramer's "ripping yarns" should have been hysterical; instead, he's reduced to slipping on golf balls. C+




FIRST AIRED 2/13/97 WRITER Mandel DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS More identity games, as Elaine is mistaken for a nonexistent coworker named Susie; Kramer becomes George's girlfriend by proxy; bookie Mike Moffet (38) believes Jerry is a hitman. CRITIQUE "Susie" is possibly the most ill-conceived premise yet. Two things save this from D-dom: Kramer and George's romantic rapport and the latter's infamous Greatest American Hero answering-machine message. C+




FIRST AIRED 2/20/97 WRITERS O'Donnell/Dan O'Keefe DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Obsessions run amok: Fastidious Jerry can't kiss his girlfriend (Melrose Place's Kristin Davis) after her toothbrush falls in the toilet; Elaine's hankering for a Chinese flounder dish has her assuming an address within the restaurant's delivery zone; and Kramer takes the adopt-a-highway concept a bit too literally. HISTORIC MOMENT The highway scenes, pothole explosion, and the toilet's-eye camera shot, add up to, according to Seinfeld, the most technically ambitious sitcom episode in TV history. CRITIQUE Physical high jinks dominate. We, however, are sorely missing the witty erudition that is, after all, the show's claim to fame. C+




FIRST AIRED 3/13/97 WRITER Koren DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Elaine's English Patient antipathy turns the world against her. A trip to Florida finds Jerry mired in one-upmanship with the Mandelbaum clan, headed by Izzy (Lloyd Bridges), and transporting Cubans (literally) back to Kramer. George meets a foxy blond and becomes obsessed with her boyfriend— his supposed twin. CRITIQUE The one pure travesty—unbearably simplistic and broad (especially that Mandelbaum crap)—of this season made us feel as burned as the episode's eponymous protagonist. D-




FIRST AIRED 4/10/97 WRITERS Kavet/Robin DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS A sleep-deprived George engages Jerry's conscientious carpenter, Conrad (Stephen Lee), to construct a mini-bedroom beneath his office desk. Kramer unwittingly initiates a lap-swimming craze—in the East River. CRITIQUE A good start (George as workplace snoozer) quickly devolves into a lame terrorist farce. Remember what we said about Newman in 131? That goes double for Steinbrenner. C+




FIRST AIRED 4/24/97 WRITERS Mehlman/ Jill Franklyn DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Conversation fudger "Yada, yada" infects the group thanks to George's succinct, shoplifting girlfriend Marcy (Suzanne Cryer). Jerry suspects that dentist Tim has converted to Judaism purely for the jokes. After Elaine screws up an adoption opportunity for Beth (125)—now married to Arnie (Stephen Caffrey)—she sinks to a new low redeeming herself. Kramer and Mickey squabble over double dates. CRITIQUE Bad news: A feckless Kramer/Mickey sideshow gets no help from gratuitous Robert Wagner and Jill St. John cameos. And are we actually to believe that Elaine has stooped to quid pro quo sex with the adoption counselor? Good news: Tim's conversion and Jerry's "anti-dentite" outrage against it (containing the show's only outright acknowledgment of its ethnicity—Jerry's anyway) are brilliantly handled and a welcome return to the verbal virtuosity we love. As for Jerry in the confessional—a blessed event! B+




FIRST AIRED 5/1/97 WRITER Crittenden DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS The Mets will hire George, but only if he gets himself fired; alas, each of his purposeful fiascos (including streaking across Yankee Stadium—in a bodysuit) only makes him more of a hero to Steinbrenner. Competing plans for a 1999 New Year's Eve party force Kramer to choose between Jerry and Newman. Elaine tries to drive Putumayo out of business. CRITIQUE Though Jerry gets stuck with a silly speed-dialing subplot, we never tire of watching George fail—this time upward. B-




FIRST AIRED 5/8/97 WRITER Feresten DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Mistaken for an out-of-towner by Mary Anne (Rena Sofer), an attractive New York Visitor's Center employee, George avidly assumes the role. Lippman returns, co-opting Elaine's brainstorm: A store selling muffins, sans stumps. Kramer creates the Peterman Reality Bus Tour in response to the autobiography filled with the K-man's life stories (140). Jerry shaves his chest. HISTORIC MOMENTS George is traded by Steinbrenner to Tyler Chicken in Arkansas. Kramer's reality tour is based on an actual NYC jaunt hosted by the real-life Kramer. CRITIQUE The top of this muffin is deliciously moist and tasty. Midway through, however, it suddenly goes stale, crumbling into howling inanity. Nothing will prepare you for that moonlit bus drive—to the dump, indeed. A for the first half. F for the second.




FIRST AIRED 5/15/97 WRITERS Berg/Schaffer DIR. Ackerman SYNOPSIS Kramer inadvertently receives a Tony for the musical Scarsdale Surprise, then is asked to fire their ''train wreck'' of a star, Raquel Welch (playing herself). Now-unemployed George offers to be Jerry's summer intern, helping him attend to the needs of Lanette (Amanda Peet), a particularly high-maintenance girlfriend. Elaine is pegged a catty shrew, then stalked, by coworker Sam (Saturday Night Live's Molly Shannon), she of the simian walk. The season concludes with a (rather lazy) harkening back to last year's finale: George gets his comeuppance when an invitation-related accident lands him in the hospital. CRITIQUE All kinds of, um, wacky stuff goes on in this, er, really convoluted.... Hey, you try writing 20,691 words about nothing! B-

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