A great release that matches the brilliance of the show with innovative extras.
It wish placement of the commentary tracks would have been listed out in the hardcopy episode pamphlet.
Seinfeld: The Complete Seventh Season was groundbreaking, bittersweet, and hilarious all in this four disc set. It included seminal episodes like "The Soup Nazi" and "The Sponge," but there are others in this set like "The Wink," "The Friars Club" and "The Calzone." I am sure that it could be argued that pretty much any episode of Seinfeld was head and shoulders above a lot of TV shows at the time, I also think the show is that rare vehicle that was consistently good and still manages to hold up throughout the years.
A big reason why we love this show so much is the writing but it's the characterizations from Jerry, George, Elaine, Kramer and everyone else that makes this show click. Sure, the comedy seems effortless, but the beauty of this set is that it gives you a peak behind that curtain. We see all the work that when into making Seinfeld the amazing viewing experience that it is. I am certain that fans of this show and those who have been collecting it on DVD are going to welcome Seinfeld: The Complete Seventh Season into their collections.
Yada, Yada, Yada
The problem with these commentary tracks is that it isn't listed out where the commentaries are. This gets confusing when trying to pick which episodes to listen to. Some have the writers and some have actors like Jason Alexander and Julie Louis-Dreyfus. While I love that they have mixed things up in this way, it was hard to decide what I should and shouldn't listen to. I chose one with writers Tom Gammill and Max Pross titled "The Doll." They offered interesting tidbits such as how this show was originally called "The Doormat," how the infectious ideas from this shows spread into popular culture, and even anecdotes about Jerry Lewis taping people in offices when he would leave meetings. Interesting stuff all around, I just wish it was better organized.
For a TV show, this one had a lot of product placement that really didn't seem like it was meant to be placed at all. For example, there are stories about the locations, ideas for shows, and props that were simply part of a scene and then became larger than life just by appearing on this show. While I think this segment is purely for fun purposes, it really is interesting to think that a show like this had such an effect on the world at large.
Presented in Full Screen these deleted scenes have the same quality as the 24 episodes in this 4 disc set. What's amazing is how imminently watchable all this footage is. Culled from different episodes, I can only imagine how much the creative types behind this show aggravated over the trims that had to be made. Knowing that these were deleted scenes played heavily into how I watched these, because I found myself constantly wondering, "Why was this cut? Why was that cut?"
An interesting, if not overdone look at certain scenes from these show in a simple, black and white animated form. Presented with a three hole punched paper background, it is amazing how the writing from this show easily translated to another medium. In fact, while I am sure the idea was probably bandied about, I think it's a good idea that the powers that be kept this contained to a live action TV show. While these small snippets work well, there is something a lot funnier about seeing humans act this way than seeing animated figures in the same positions.
Queen of the Castle
Elaine Benes is the focus behind this show but it really is a spotlight on Julia Louis-Dreyfus. We see how the character evolved as from being a waitress in the pilot, how Dreyfus was cast, what she brought to the show, and we hear from people like Jerry Seinfeld , among others. There is a quality about the actress that I am sure was molded into the character, but at the same time she is an actress so I am betting that she imbued Elaine with a lot of actorly mechanics. Whatever the case is, I, like the people taking part in this featurette, can really never see anyone else playing this pivotal role.
Notes About Nothing
Tidbits and facts abound in this audio text. They discuss a situation in the show, what a character is saying, wearing, or anything else that could best be described as fair game. When these work their best is when a character says something, and then a tidbit comes up in the form of dry humor. For example, when a character talks about when something happened, a tidbit comes up that will usually correct them. While I have never sat through an entire one of these, I did find what I screened interesting.
Not That There's Anything Wrong With That
Bloopers and Outtakes are the order of the day in this section and it's really jarring, especially if you have been watching this perfectly crafted show for so long. We get to see Jerry doing his standup and the audience not laughing as much. He then tells them that he knows they've heard the joke before but they've got to laugh more. Or, there's moments where the actors can't stop laughing, which I am sure probably happened quite a bit during every taping session of this show.
Master of His Domain
Fans of Jerry Seinfeld's standup act (which I am) are going to love this. We get to hear this comic genius discuss such things as Halloween, banks, sitting up front with dogs in the passenger seat and the other little things in life. What I think makes Seinfeld's comedy work so well is the fact that he seems to do it effortlessly. The subject matter is universal. He discusses things that we already know, that we've thought about, but most likely never expressed. He is our human voicebox.
Larry David, who created this show with Jerry Seinfeld, appeared on 40 episodes and portrayed the voice of George Steinbrenner 14 times. This is essentially clips of some of his scenes and if you are a fan of Larry David, you will find this stuff hilarious. My personal favorite is seeing him playing the lawyer who wears a cape. The minds behind this show were always firing on all cylinders, and that was never more apparent than when they let these moments happen.
Larry David's Farewell
A somber look at a man who had poured his heart and soul into this show, and then after 7 years just couldn't do it anymore. According to Seinfeld, Larry David would always threaten to quit around the 13th or 14th episode, but he always stayed with the show. Jason Alexander discusses being nervous when Larry left because Larry was the George Costanza character. This too short segment ends with Larry discussing not being on the show for it's first day of shooting. He was alone in his office writing a script. He even jokes that the guards wouldn't let him into the building because nobody remembered who he was. Great stuff, I just wish there was more.
Full Screen - 1.33:1. These shows look terrific. I knew that this product, coming from Sony, would definitely be given the treatment on DVD. Seinfeld is such an institution to people all over the world, you know that Sony wants to make every release of this show special. While there isn't anything about these episodes that stand out in a visual sense, the DVD transfers are sparklingly clean and the structured settings never feel that way.
Dolby Digital. Remastered in High Definition. Languages: English and French (Stereo). Subtitled in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Close Captioned. Upon hearing the opening notes of this show's funk bassline, I had a huge smile on my face. Again, Sony is a company that while being a media giant, is also very much a technological innovator. While these shows don't utilize audio to get into their characters heads, there is a simplicity to Seinfeld: The Complete Seventh Season's audio presentation that speaks volumes.
The front cover features a shot of the entire cast with a gray border around them. The back cover doesn't even need a description of the show (it doesn't have one anyway), all it contains are Special Features, and some technical specs. This covering pulls off and we get all 4 discs in 4 slim cases inside a slipcase. The plastic cases each feature one member of the cast on the front, and on the back of them are episode listings and descriptions. In addition to this, there is a small pamphlet that lists out the episodes for each show and the casts, writers, and other creative types. All of this is great, I just wish a listing of the commentary tracks and the episodes they were done for was also included.
What really impressed me about this release was how much Sony has put into it. We are in the Seventh Season and it would have made sense if they had skimped on the extras. However, they provided us with over 13 hours of content with which to occupy ourselves. Looking at other seasons that have been released, Sony has continued to raise the bar with each season. Now, I am sure that they are selling well because why would Sony continue to release them, but this is such a complete set, there's so much involvement from the cast, I was honestly beside myself. It really helps put this show in the proper perspective.
I got the sense from the featurettes, the commentary tracks, the text commentaries, etc., that everybody involved understood that Seinfeld was a special project. That, up until that time, there had been important and groundbreaking shows but there had never been one like Seinfeld. Also, can you think of any show where there were legitimately four main characters? As I was moving through the various episodes, I realized that this show, had it lost any of the actors in the four main roles would have probably suffered greatly.
Seinfeld: The Complete Seventh Season is a wonderful look at a brilliant TV show from the inside out.