Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Message

As some of you may know I'm something of a late developer. I've only recently developed emotional maturity, a sense of self awareness, the skills to display proportional and appropriate behaviour in public, the honesty to tell people just how great I am in anything other than a faux self-deprecating way and suppressed the obsessive instinct in me which has led me to watch and listen to all of Doctor Who in order, even those large swathes of it when it was undeniably rubbish beyond redemption (and that's the more socially acceptable face of obsessiveness).
It was last Wednesday all that developed.

Another thing I came late to was Seinfeld. I spent years paying a great deal of attention to UK produced TV because that was what my job as a TV curator focused on and devoting a disproportionately smaller amount of time to US TV, particularly if it was on way too late at night. So, it was only after I resigned from that job last year and was spending much more time thinking about the mechanics of comedy I decided to give the show some serious attention. I'd become a great fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm and kept being told Larry David had been the driving force behind Seinfeld and I really should watch it.

Obviously, I'd seen a few early episodes before, but hadn't really taken to the show. There was a man who got applause for coming through a door, and the lead seemed stilted and wooden interacting with the rest of the cast and slickly insincere when doing his stand up bits and, you know, it didn't grab me.

However, starting to watch the show in order it became clear the hero of the show was George Constanza, a neurotic over-reaching little man painfuly aware of both his best and worst impulses, struggling between facing the world with a sense of himself as he feels he should be and a sense of who he really is, and thus determined to save face even if it destroys his dignity to do so.

I like George, he's like me only not as brilliant.

Here's the weird thing though, I've just finished watching Seinfeld Season 5 and watched in order the extreme physical clowning of Kramer (in a show of his own), and Jerry's passive protagonist have begun to make sense (and his acting has definitely improved) but George has quite suddenly undergone a horrible change.
His self awareness and battle with his sense of morality have literally vanished, he has become a butt of jokes, moved in with his parents and become a caricature of himself. He is just nasty George now.
This happens with sitcoms over time, the writers play to actors strengths and what gets the big laughs and the character gives way to the sit. This is particularly notable in Seinfeld which was initially quite plot light but by Season 5 has become driven by fast interlocking storylines. It's almost as if the rest of the cast have moved into Kramer's world.

Now apparently this is considered the season (number 5 of 9) in which Seinfeld comes into its own and becomes one of the great sitcoms of all time, but watching it now I can't help feeling I'm watching a show throwing away all its most interesting aspects.
As a mature adult, I think it's time for me to quit Seinfeld now, and remember my friend George as he was rather than persist with him now he's become a monster. There again I'm over half way through and it would be great to watch the whole show in order, and see what develops later...

I am rubbish, but at least I'm not as bad as Newman.

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