Monday, June 19, 2006

TV on DVD: Seinfeld Season 3

Genre: Sitcom, '90s
DVD Released: Nov. 23, 2004
Verdict: &&&&&

I'm not the typical TV on DVD viewer who binges on an entire season of a show in a single day or weekend. Instead, I like to keep a stack of several shows in progress, handy and ready for a tailor-made Sunday evening of viewing — my own custom-made Must See TV. It may take me months to get through whatever's currently in the stack, but that's just fine. An indispensable part of the TV on DVD rotation these days is the brilliant sitcom Seinfeld, which comes in a package that should serve as a textbook example of how to do DVD. Each set is positively loaded with features that you'll actually want no, crave to watch, and menus lovingly constructed from certain set pieces and scenes enhance the experience. In addition to the expected commentaries, there are amusing deleted scenes, inside looks that detail the creative genesis of plots, outtakes and bloopers, promo spots (Remember when the show aired on Wednesday night for a time? Neither do I) and notes about nothing — Seinfeldian minutiae about everything from episode order and airdates to ratings and useless trivia, plus the essential Kramer entrance counter, presented in text at the bottom of the screen. I actually find the notes about nothing somewhat distracting, so I've opted to save those for future viewings of the episodes. Other extras vary per set; season 3, for example, includes an incisive "Kramer vs. Kramer: Kenny to Cosmo" featurette on the origins of fan favorite Kramer. It includes interviews with many actors and perspective from Michael Richards, who reveals, among other details, the obscure inspiration for all those hilarious little mouth noises he made. There's also some previously unreleased Seinfeld stand-up footage in the mix. While the trimmings are as watchable as it gets, the meat of the package is 22 outstanding episodes from the season when the characters and tone of the show truly gelled. From a giggly, drugged Elaine shouting, "Stella! STELLA!" in "The Pen" to an ultimate episode about nothing, yet everything — "The Parking Garage" — season three is positively loaded and a harbinger of the many sweet nothings to come.

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