Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington
Can you believe it? This groundbreaking sitcom is coming to an end. Mr. Seinfeld Goes to Washington started out as a simple show about four friends and their wacky quest for the White House. But it has grown into a once in a lifetime television event. After a ratings dream season, the series ending episode will be broadcast on Tuesday, November 4th to what will no doubt be a record audience.
And who could have predicted this level success. Comedian Barry Seinfeld launched his career from his agent’s living room with very little television experience. He had some success in college, some local community theater and some late-night TV appearances but nothing on this scale. The critics were skeptical to say the least. As it turned out, his talent, drive and supporting cast were more than enough to create a wildly successful show.
It’s a little sad to see it end though. It’s going to be hard to let these characters go because we’ve come to see them as part of the family. We talk about them at the dinner table and around the water cooler. We tune in to their shenanigans to take our minds off of our troubles and it is a welcome break from the depressing programming we typically see.
There are so many great memories flooding back into my mind about the goings on in that little apartment they all shared in D.C. I’ll post a more complete list at the end but if you’ll permit me, here are a few highlights.
I couldn’t stop laughing the first time I saw the episode where Barry’s judgment was questioned because he was spending so much time with an unsavory character known as the “soup nazi”. “He’s not an adviser”, Barry would say. “I just like soup.” Or when Barry refused to wear the flag pin on his lapel and was chased through the streets by angry mobs who questioned his patriotism. Situations so outlandish they could only take place in sitcom land for sure.
But of course the show is more than just Barry. It’s a true ensemble. Who could forget the classic “contest” episode where a wager was made to see who could go the longest without saying “Wall Street” and “Main Street” in the same sentence. Hilarious. None of them lasted long but I believe George won that one.
Speaking of George, remember when he and Barry tried to sneak the marble rye back into the White House before George W. and Laura noticed it was gone. Great guest appearances like that are part of what makes the show so wonderful. And do you remember the time George tried to filibuster by simply saying “yada yada yada” over and over and told his fellow Senators he could go on forever. He said, “This is nothing compared to the hell I’ve already been through.” The other side had no idea what he was talking about but he looked a little crazy so they caved in. I laughed so hard it hurt.
And oh that wacky Elaine. My favorite episode from her had to be when she demonstrated her knowledge of world affairs by suggesting to a visiting Russian dignitary that “War, What is it Good For” was the original title to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. Priceless. Or there was the time she thought she only had a limited number of vetoes and spent the whole episode trying to figure out which bills were veto-worthy. She went back and forth about whether to veto some bridge project for the whole show. Brilliant writing.
And then there was Kramer. My favorite of his was the episode where Kramer dropped a Junior Mint and it landed on the President during the State of the Union address. “W” had no idea why everyone was laughing. Or when Kramer set up his very own oval office smack dab in the middle in his apartment and pretended to be president. So many layers of meaning there for such a supposedly meaningless show.
Of course they did threaten to write Kramer out of the show a bit later because he couldn’t keep his foot out of his mouth. The breaking point came when he lost his temper on the stump and let a couple of hecklers have it. It was way out of line and made things uncomfortable between he and Barry for a while to say the least. But they were able to, as they say, move on.
I’m not sure what will happen to all of these guys after this show ends. It’s hard to deal with the lows after tasting such highs. I think Barry will be fine. He’ll probably get a spin-off and be on the air for another eight years or so. Just a hunch. But I’m not so sure about the rest of the cast. They’re all pretty talented but I don’t know if they can make it without Barry. We’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.
For now though, I’m really excited about Tuesday night’s finale. It’s tough to end a sitcom gracefully and few have pulled it off successfully. But maybe this one will be an exception. Maybe this is one we’ll talk about for years to come. I’ll be first in line for the DVD box set when it comes out. For what it’s worth, I sure hope this wasn’t just another show about nothing.
(Here are some more favorite moments from previous shows.)
Elaine and Barry worked out a deal where they would ignore their differences in political ideology and sleep together. They thought they could still be friends as long as they followed a strict set of rules. The Bedroom Bill of Rights they called it. When Barry told George about it, he laughed at his friend’s lack of experience and correctly predicted it would not last.
George’s tax cut proposal came back much smaller than expected and he tried to explain “shrinkage” to a skeptical Elaine.
“The Puffy Turban”
A low-talking lobbyist asked Barry to wear a puffy turban on Meet the Press and all hell breaks loose.
Kramer gets Senator Larry Craig’s vanity plates by mistake.
Elaine sends out a new campaign flier across the country and it turns out you can see her NRA tattoo peaking out from beneath her blouse.
George pretends to be a lobbyist for Vandelay Industries in order to stop out of control pork barrel earmarks and Barry accidentally spoils the ruse. My favorite scene is George lying on the floor as Barry says, “And you want to be my latex lobbyist.”
Barry and George are mistaken for a gay couple and while trying to set the record straight, they repeatedly say, “Not that’s anything wrong with that as long as same-sex couples get the same civil rights that are granted to opposite-sex couples and as long as they don’t expect to be able to get “married” in the traditional sense of the word because that’s a decision for the church not the government.” By the fourth time they said that line I was rolling.
(If you have any favorite episodes, I’d love to hear about them.)