Seinfeld, Season 9 (1997 - DVD)
The 9th and final season of Seinfeld is one of the best seasons of the show that I've seen, and I might have even gone so far as to say it was the best one of all, but there is a catch.
It starts off really strongly with an episode that ends with George being pursued by a bunch of elderly people in a lowspeed Rascal scooter chase, and from there, the hilarity snowballs. Kramer does more and more ridiculous things with his apartment, starting with the installation of a screen door that ultimately results in him getting gunned down with silly string, putting a garbage disposal in his shower, reversing the peephole on his door, and even turning his apartment into The Merv Griffin Show. This season also contains some very iconic and memorable plots and quotes, like George's "Serenity Now!" and his father's "Festivus for the rest of us" holiday.
Other great Season 9 moments include George dating a woman who looks just like Jerry, Newman rolling down the street in an out-of-control rickshaw, and Jerry getting a purse stolen from him while dressed in a fur coat. There's also this one episode where Elaine is dating this guy who turns out to have once been in advertisements for used cars as a character called "The Wiz". At the end of the episode, there's this part that made me laugh hysterically: He gets a phone call telling him he can be The Wiz again, so he gets up and starts parading around the diner in a really over-the-top manner yelling "I'm the Wiz!"
And hey, gamers, here's something for you: There's an episode where George tries to push a Frogger arcade machine across the street, shown from a bird's-eye view, and yes, it looks pretty much exactly like the game and even has the music playing. Heck, you don't even have to be a gamer to find this pretty damn funny!
But here's the catch: Everything I've described so far happens on Discs 1-3. Disc 4 is almost a total dud. The first episode is The Puerto Rican Parade, which offended some people so badly that NBC pulled it. To me, it seemed rather mild compared to the stuff that modern cartoons like Family Guy and American Dad get away with, but it also felt like a random Season 1-style episode had been inserted amongst all the ongoing storylines, and it's weird for the last "normal" episode to be like that.
Then after that, there's a clip show. Fine, I won't complain about a clip show since it's natural to do one so close to the end. But then the series finale is practically another clip show!
I have seen numerous attempts on the internet to vindicate the series finale of Seinfeld from the criticism it originally received, and it's true that the first half of the episode isn't too bad. But let's face the music, the entire second half just isn't funny.
The airplane scene would be hard to laugh at even before 9/11. In fact, it's not just the plane that nosedives, this is the exact point the episode starts going downhill. The part where they mock the overweight man while he's getting robbed is so crass, even for these characters, that it's hard to watch. Bringing back almost every character they ever wronged may seem like a great way to get "the whole gang" together for one last hurrah, but it ends up being a series of tedious "they did this and that" observations, which only succeed in pointing out the dark side of the show with no indication as to what made those situations funny or sympathetic.
And the OJ trial? That's what they decided to parody for the final episode? Something that was several years old and had already been parodied by numerous sources, including this show, by then?
Seinfeld had evolved a lot since Season 1. To write two episodes like we're back in Season 1 again and slam every ongoing plotline to a halt with the brick wall of a jail cell is not an acceptable conclusion to the great rollercoaster ride that Seasons 6-9 built up.
So, okay, I was disappointed in the last few episodes, but it's only Disc 4 that's affected. Even 3 discs of great Seinfeld episodes is good enough for a recommendation and a high score. As far as I'm concerned, the series peaked and ended with the Frogger episode, but as long as I'm allowed to feel that way, I'm fine with it.