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Premiering originally in 1990, Seinfeld (originally titled The Seinfeld Chronicles) lived for nine seasons on NBC (primarily on the 9PM Thursday time slot) and thrives today on syndication. Throughout the show’s dominant run in the 90s, the Fab Four comprised of Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards became household names and were always the topic of conversation at the water-cooler on Friday morning. Thirteen Emmy Awards later the show has been permanently been supplanted into popular culture and has a level of quality in which future sitcoms will be compared to for years to come.

After what seemed like an eternity, Seinfeld debuted on DVD in November of this year filling in a reserved spot on many DVD racks. Columbia Tri-Star spoiled fans of the show by giving us three full seasons to start off with, in addition to enough extras to fully supplement the main feature. Season three is where Seinfeld began to discover its strengths and began to solidify itself as a major prime-time player. Episodes such as The Pez Dispenser, The Pen, The Boyfriend, and The Parking Garage are present in this season, and always come up in ‘What’s your favourite episode?’ conversations.

Seinfeld: Season 3
Series
Season three is the first full season of Seinfeld, with NBC ordering twenty three episodes. Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld) still lives next door to his neighbour Kramer (Michael Richards) and is still frequently visited by ex-girlfriend Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and best friends George (Jason Alexander). Co-creator Larry David admits that season three was a big turning point for the series in terms of how they made the shows; it’s where they started doing non linear storylines with episodes containing multiple stories. George was becoming a bigger liar, Elaine was becoming more quirky, and Kramer was becoming surer of himself in throughout his crazy antics. For many fans of the show, season three contains some all-time classics including (but not limited to) The Parking Garage, The Boyfriend, The Subway, The Red Dot, The Library, and The Parking Space.

The Parking Garage takes place in, you guessed it, a parking garage. After a day of shopping Jerry, Kramer, George and Elaine are stuck in a parking garage because they can’t remember where they parked. Kramer is carrying an air conditioner through all this (which Michael Richards insisted on being real), Elaine has a goldfish in a bag, and George has to be home in an hour to take his parents out for their anniversary. This episode really highlighted how well these four work together; their dialogue bounces off each other well enough to not make an episode that takes place on the same set boring. Also, they play on a situation that’s happened to everyone at some point or another, and take it to another level. This is again exhibited in The Parking Space. Right outside of Jerry’s apartment, George is about to back into a space as another man is about to pull into the same space. Arguments and debates ensue throughout the episode about which is the proper way to parallel park. Making things even more exciting is the fact that the man George is arguing with is a guy that is supposed to join him and Jerry in watching a boxing match later that night.

Seinfeld: Season 3
Former baseball star Keith Hernandez guest starred in Seinfeld’s first one hour episode entitled The Boyfriend. Keith and Jerry meet in a health club and befriend each other. One highlight of the episode is Jerry complaining Elaine about Keith not calling (in what Michael Richards calls a touch of homo-erotica). We also learn that Kramer and Newman (another man from Jerry’s building played by Wayne Knight) were once spat on (supposedly) by Hernandez after a Mets game. In one of the funniest moments in the history of television, Jerry constructs their case much like the Kennedy assassination was described. Jerry claimed that the spit had to have come from a different direction, involving a second spitter. Ironically in that same year the episode premiered, Wayne Knight starred in Oliver Stone’s JFK.

Overall this was a great run for the Seinfeld team and in the end it netted them nine Emmy nominations with two wins in 1992.

Video
The video is presented in a 1:33:1 (full frame) aspect ratio and was re-mastered in high definition. The show itself looks okay considering it’s roughly fourteen years old, but it is far from reference material. The colours are generally vibrant but some episodes have. The print does suffer from grain and noise issues, but rest assured it is not enough to distract from the feature. Any issues that the video transfer has are excusable because of how old the print is. It is also encouraging to note that the video quality does show noticeable improvement as the season goes on. The quality of the video from the supplemental interviews looks spectacular. It is here where the high definition master is obviously present, and it also gives us a reassurance that future season’s video presentations will look better than the two we’ve been given already. Overall there’s no problem big enough to make a stink over, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Seinfeld: Season 3
Audio
The only audio option here is a stereo Dolby Digital 2.0. You won’t find any directional audio here, but you also won’t find any distortion. Ninety percent of the sound is dialogue with the rest being balanced between brief music riffs and audience laughter. Dialogue is never drowned out from any of the other sound and is consistently clear. For a sitcom, too much can’t be expected from an audio track and the third season of Seinfeld is no different.

Extras
Season 3 of Seinfeld is jam-packed with extras. First of all, the menu systems on the discs are pretty fun, giving us different interactive environments from the show on each disc. Yadda, Yadda, Yadda... is the audio commentary option that is featured on eight of the twenty three episodes of the season. Co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld team up for commentary on The Pen and The Pez Descender, while Jason Alexander, Michael Richards, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus work together on The Boyfriend and The Subway. The other four commentaries are split between director Tom Cherones, production designer Tom Azzari, and writer Larry Charles. I must say that the commentaries disappointed me a bit. For one I was hoping that the Fab Four would be together on the tracks, and also the tracks didn’t offer much at all. Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld spent most of The Pen just laughing at the episode. The commentaries from the production team gave great insight into episodes such as The Parking Garage. The other cast commentaries were fun to listen to, and I’d recommend those over all the others. Hopefully in future sets we’ll get some of the other supporting cast members (i.e. Wayne Knight and Jerry Stiller) to lend their thoughts on the show. Notes About Nothing are pop up trivial facts about the show, that can be turned on or off while watching an episode. These are pretty much re-hashings of things that are said in the commentaries or inside looks, but are a must see for any die- hard fan.

Seinfeld: Season 3
Extras that are included on each disc give insight to the production and conception for the episodes and other elements of the show. Inside Looks are introductions to episodes from the cast, creators, and producers that talk about different production elements from that particular show. For instance on The Boyfriend Larry David reveals that he was nervous about approaching NBC in doing a one-hour show, and Jerry admits that it is one of his all time favourite episodes. They also mention that Darryl Strawberry (former Mets outfielder) was mentioned as a possible guest-star for that episode. On disc four a short feature entitled Kramer vs. Kramer introduces us to Larry David’s former neighbour Kenny Kramer, who was the inspiration for the show’s character. Michael Richards explains that he came up with his own character and never met the real man. Some interesting things to note from this feature is that by the third season of Seinfeld the crew had to ask the audience to calm down when Kramer would enter, because they would hoot and holler too much causing a delay in the dialogue to start. Even some outtakes are included in this feature, and are definitely one of the highlights of the set.

The deleted scenes, bloopers, and outtakes are the gem of season three of Seinfeld. Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That is a fifteen minute blooper and outtake reel from various episodes from the season. Some of these things are literally funnier that the content of the episodes; bloopers from The Parking Garage may very well be the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Notice which actor seems to never break character and even gets frustrated when the others do; it may very well surprise you. These fifteen minutes alone make the price of the set worth the money, and I assure you it will give you repeat viewing value. In the Vault and Master of His Domain are deleted scenes from the season. While the show scenes that were deleted are so-so, the deleted stand-up material from Jerry is top notch and worth watching.

Finally rounding out the extras are promotional ads and trailers entitled Sponsored by Vandelay Industries. These have a very 90s feel to them with neon colours for the ads and funky shapes going across the screen. It was a little tacky to see a Spider-Man 2 trailer on the set, but you have to dig pretty far in there to find it. Overall the extras on the set are great. My only real complaint is that many things feel repetitive, particularly in the commentaries. Fans and newcomers will not be disappointed in what season three has to offer.

Seinfeld: Season 3
Overall
Seinfeld has proven during it’s original run, through it’s syndication, and now on DVD that it has a lasting appeal that will continue to transcend from generation to generation. Don’t believe that? Ask All-Star Keith Hernandez: he says younger kids recognize him more now as the guy from Seinfeld than they do as a baseball player. Keep in mind this is World Series hero with icon-status for New York Mets fans. The dialogue is top notch and the situations, while sometimes outrageous, feel all too familiar to ones we’ve all had. The ensemble cast is always on top of their game, constantly pushing the envelope with the characters to milk every laugh out of every scene. Nothing is more satisfying that to see a show get better in each progressive season, and Seinfeld is guilty of just that. This release is one of the best of the year, and I am itching to get seasons four through nine in my hands on and my shelf as soon as possible.


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