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Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur continue their journey to watch every Seinfeld episode as they discuss the Season 4 Finale, Episode 23, “The Pilot.”
Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur are ready for a wet and wild end to Seinfeld’s forth season, as they bring you the recap of “The Pilot”, which first aired on May 20, 1993.
Rob shared how this episode aired on the same night as the Cheers series finale, causing an even bigger ratings spike than usual. Akiva had a short snippet of news about Jeff Garlin indicating there’s a 51% chance that there will be another season of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Jerry’s opening standup is a familiar bit about how people are more afraid of public speaking than death. The episode opens with Kramer arguing with Jerry about why he can’t play himself in the pilot. Rob and Akiva both agreed that the real Kenny Kramer must have done the same thing in real life. Jerry points out that he can’t act either, so they don’t need two main characters played by people who can’t act. They each try to give their best fake laughs to no avail.
They are waiting to hear from Russell, who is out with Elaine. She is trying to let him down easy, though he is obsessed with her. She points out that he is a powerful executive that can get any woman he wants, and she just doesn’t like TV. If he worked for something like Greenpeace, it would be different.
Back at Jerry’s, he is admonishing George for wearing sweatpants out in public. Rob and Akiva both agreed that nowadays it’s much more acceptable to wear workout gear. NBC calls to let them know they will be casting the show, much to the chagrin of George.
We learn why George is upset about things getting started in the next scene with his therapist. He tells her it’s because he is scared of success, and he feels God doesn’t want him to be happy. Before he leaves, she points out a discoloration on George’s lip, causing him to yell at her for furthering his anxiety. Jerry doesn’t see anything when George asks him about his lip, but the cab driver does. At the end of the scene, the camera pans in on the man washing the car window, and it’s Crazy Joe Devola.
At NBC, George is showing all the executives the discoloration on his lip, soliciting advice from any avenue he can. They start the auditions, and George is excited about this actor auditioning for the George role, though he is nothing like him. Rob described the actor as “the most 90s MFer we’ve seen on the show”. The next guy auditioning for George, played by Jeremy Piven, fits the George character perfectly, since he’s bald, neurotic and schlubby.
When an attractive woman comes in to audition for the Elaine part, Jerry jumps right in to flirt/read lines with her, but George doesn’t like her, so she’s sent out. There is a montage of actors auditioning for Kramer, and one in particular seems to hit all the beats. When he leaves, George notices that he took the box of raisins from the table on his way out. Next, Kramer comes in pretending to be Martin Von Nostran, there for the audition. The executives recognize him from the Calvin Klein add. As the audition goes along pretty poorly, Kramer is struck with the sudden urge to go to the bathroom, so he runs right out of the room.
Back at the diner, Elaine and Jerry are discussing how obsessed Russell is with Elaine. Elaine notices that all the waitresses at Monks happen to be top heavy, which has her question their hiring practices. Meanwhile, George is at the doctor having his lip looked at. The doctor is noncommittal about whether its cancer, but George is wanting some reassurance.
After his doctor visit, George is talking about it with Jerry, he blows George off, telling him to just die with dignity. Kramer comes in to tell them what happened after he ran out of the audition. He had to run all the way back to the apartment, and on the way, he was mugged. By the time he got home, his urge to go went away, and now he’s backed up. Elaine then comes in as George is talking about the busty waitresses at the diner. Elaine decides that she is going to perform a sting operation by applying for a job while wearing a baggy shirt to see what they do.
The phone rings and it’s the actress playing the Elaine part wanting to meet up with Jerry to discuss the show. At dinner, Jerry learns that she wants to take the method approach, and asks to be called Elaine from now on. Later on, Kramer is sitting with the actor hired to play the Kramer role, telling him all about himself, including what type of love making positions he prefers. Elaine walks into the diner to apply, but is told right away that they aren’t hiring, setting Elaine off to the Equal Employment offices.
In the next scene, they are filming the pilot, and George decides to give the actor Kramer notes on a particular line, to which George is rebuffed with much vitriol. Jerry has to remind George that actors aren’t receptive to feedback like that. The executive Rita, isn’t happy with Jerry’s acting, and even less happy that Russell seems to have gone missing.
As Jerry is sitting in the make up chair, the actor Elaine, still going method, inexplicably tells Jerry they are breaking up, but she still wants to be friends. George decides he can’t let the raisin thing go and asks actor Kramer about them. Actor Kramer threatens George if he brings it up again. Meanwhile, Russell calls Elaine to see if she’ll go out with him again, and when he’s turned down, he goes on a huge rant at a crew member who bumps into him.
Back at Jerry’s, Jerry is upset about the acting in the show and how the other actors are crazy. Kramer comes in, still unable to go to the bathroom, when they suggest he do an enema to take care of it. Elaine comes in telling them that Monk’s is under investigation. She tells Jerry she isn’t going to the pilot taping so she can avoid Russell, while Kramer can’t go too far from home in case there is any movement on the bathroom front.
At the taping of the show, Elaine decides to go in disguise, however some random person recognizes her instantly. Jerry is waiting to go on when actor George comes up freaking out because he forgot his lines, with Jerry pointing out he is just like real George. The real George is on the phone with the doctor, and when they tell him the results were negative, he mistakes that for bad news at first, then when he realizes it means he doesn’t have cancer, he’s elated. As Jerry is warming up the crowd as the show begins, Crazy Joe Devola pops up from the audience and jumps out at Jerry.
In the next scene, it’s a week later and they are discussing Crazy Joe Devola and how he yelled out the Latin phrase that John Wilks Booth said when assassinating Lincoln. Kramer comes in dancing because he has finally gone to the bathroom. Everyone is now there to watch the pilot. Elaine reaches into the couch cushions and finds Morty’s wallet he lost earlier in the season.
As they watch the pilot, we see clips of many of the guest actors from the season watching and criticizing, including Susan with George’s other ex-girlfriend Allison, the old man whose records they stole, the virgin with John F Kennedy Jr., the Drake and Drakette, Ping and Cheryl and the Bubble Boy. After seeing more of the pilot, there is another montage of people watching, including Jerry’s parents, Calvin Klein with Tia the model, Sidra with Sal Bass and finally Newman, but he’s asleep watching the Yankee game. Jerry’s closing standup on the pilot is a bit about how if a baby is named Jeeves, there is little else he could grow up to be besides a butler.
Back at Jerry’s apartment, Jerry gets a call from Rita at NBC, who has taken over for Russell since he quit. She informs him that they will be cancelling the show, as it wasn’t one she was ever on board with. Everyone heads to the diner, which is overly crowded, including the two men from the Equal Employment office. Elaine is upset by this and confronts the owner, but learns he hired all the waitresses because they’re his daughters.
George is back to trying to figure out what to do for a living now that the show is cancelled, and Kramer suggests he work for Greenpeace. The scene cuts to Russell on a boat going through with a Greenpeace mission. Rob and Akiva noted that Larry David and Larry Charles were the two other men on the boat. The scene ends with Russell dying, and a shot of the Jerry script floating in the water.
Rob was not impressed with the ending, so he came up with an alternate ending. He felt that Russell could get together with the actress playing Elaine. Russell could then fire Jerry and George to build a show around the Elaine character. Akiva thought it was a great idea. Rob asked Akiva who he thought was left out of this episode, to which Akiva responded with Delores, plus anyone from “The Junior Mint” amongst others.
Akiva thought the episode was funny, but it was quite a messy plot. He ranked it at 80, which Rob agreed, thinking it was much more enjoyable the first time he watched it.
There were a few emails this week for the big episode. Craig emailed in to question what became of Joe Devola after his assassination attempt. He also commented how he liked this season so much more from listening to the podcast, but voted no for the one off podcast between seasons. Colin wrote in to ask if he could be a “delivery guy” expert.
Amir emailed in to tell them he was the brother who got engaged outside of City Field. He also asked how the actors on Jerry would cover all the storylines in one episode. Rob and Akiva thought that the actors sides would include a wide variety, and not just the pilot script. He also wondered why Elaine wouldn’t date Russell because he was in TV, when she tried to submit a script to Murphy Brown. Akiva thought she might have felt burned by that, turning her off from television.
Johnny De Silveira pointed out that Jerry’s refrigerator in his apartment is actually jutting out into the hallway, since the wall ends flush with the front. Finally, Chester wonders why George would go back to the same therapist who criticized the pilot, to which Akiva said because he’s a glutton for punishment. He also asked if the raisin stealing was in reference to the actor playing Alton Benes allegedly stealing a knife on set. Akiva did think the same thing. Lastly, he wondered why there was only one bathroom at NBC when Kramer needed to go. Akiva used to work there, so he could have helped Kramer.
Tune in next week as the guys will jump right into season five premiere with “The Mango”. Send in your questions by emailing [email protected]. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast by going to postshowrecaps.com/seinfeldITunes where you can rate and review the podcast. You can get a discussion going about the podcast by leaving a comment on the show page, and as always, you can follow them on Twitter @robcesternino and @keev26.
Special thanks to Mike Moore for the episode recap.