'Seinfeld' Season 2: THR's 1991 Review
"In the end, one of the best parts of 'Seinfeld' is that it is so different."
In January, 1991, Seinfeld got a second chance. While some reviews may not have been kind of the initial run of episodes, The Hollywood Reporter found more to like in the sophomore run of what would become a classic comedy:
Seinfeld returns for a second season on NBC tonight with an episode that truly helps carve a niche in the primetime schedule for this innovative series. Call it comedy with a conscience.
This show is less a sitcom than a social satire, a look at everyday life through slightly skewed eyes that see the humor in life’s little problems. Combine that with the show’s irreverent tone and format — a clever combination of star Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up act wrapped into a weekly storyline — and what you have is something completely different… and very, very funny.
The show is all Seinfeld, to be sure, and he shines. He makes you look and laugh at the common distractions of life — here, relationships, golf, chiropractors and cantaloupe --- as he pokes fun at its difficulties and cuts through the seriousness to discover its absurdities.
But the reason this show succeeds is that the comedian also allows his co-stars many of the punchlines, being wiling to stand back and play straight man as they get the laughs.
And they get those laughs because of the solid comedy characterizations they present. Jason Alexander, as Seinfeld’s dear friend and confidant, is a laugh a minute with his continual rationalizing — sometimes playing off Seinfeld, and sometimes playing his foil. Add in Michael Richards, as a big lug of a neighbor who acts more like a mother at times, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as his slightly neurotic friend, and the result is a cast of characters that both resemble real life and compassionately lampoon it.
The show’s combination of real-life reality and TV reality blur the line between the two, and while it stops well short of the format used by Gary Shandling it somehow gives off a like impression. Only here, not only is the show poking fun at television, but at reality as well.
In tonight’s season premiere, “The Girlfriend,” Jerry counsels George on the best way to break up a relationship, then winds up falling for the talkative seductress himself. It takes a winding and very funny road to its payoff, and it’s chock full of kind of commentary that makes Seinfeld so funny on stage.
In the end, one of the best parts of Seinfeld is that it is so different. It might have a hard time finding viewers for that reason, but once it does they’re sure to stick around.
And that is the sign of solid, innovative and worthwhile television programming. — Rick Sherwood