The Finale (Seinfeld)

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"The Finale ("A Tough Nut to Crack")"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 23/24
Directed byAndy Ackerman
Written byLarry David
Production code923/924
Original air dateMay 14, 1998
Guest actors
Season 9 episodes
List of Seinfeld episodes
 
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"The Finale ("A Tough Nut to Crack")"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 23/24
Directed byAndy Ackerman
Written byLarry David
Production code923/924
Original air dateMay 14, 1998
Guest actors
Season 9 episodes
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Finale" is the name given to the final two episodes of the American sitcom Seinfeld. They were the 179th and 180th episodes of the show and the 23rd and 24th episodes of the ninth season. It aired on NBC May 14, 1998 to an audience of 76 million viewers. Its initial running time was 1 hour and 15 minutes.[1]

The fake working title for this show was "A Tough Nut to Crack" to throw off outsiders about the contents of the episode.[2] For the first and final time since season seven, Jerry performs a stand-up comedy routine. Larry David, co-creator of the series, returned to write the script for this episode.

Plot[edit]

Part one[edit]

Jerry and George have finally struck a deal with NBC to produce their pilot, Jerry, as a series and will be leaving New York City for California to begin work. Jerry is given use of NBC's private jet as a courtesy and he, George, Elaine, and Kramer decide to go to Paris for "one last hurrah". On the plane, George and Elaine argue over the quality of the plane and what Elaine considers an "effeminate" way in which George sits in the jet, while Kramer is still trying to get water out of his ears from a trip to the beach he made earlier in the day.

Kramer's desperation to get the water out of his ears causes him to jump up and down on the plane and, as a result, he stumbles and falls into the cockpit, which causes the pilots to lose control. While the plane is nosediving, the four prepare for death. George, momentarily feeling the need to confess, reveals he cheated in "The Contest," and Elaine begins to tell Jerry that she always loved him; but the plane steadies itself and they make a safe emergency landing in the small town of Latham, Massachusetts.

While waiting for the plane to be repaired, they witness an overweight man (John Pinette) getting carjacked at gunpoint. Instead of helping him, they crack jokes about his size while Kramer films it all on his camcorder, then proceed to walk away. The victim notices this and tells the reporting officer, who arrests them on a duty to rescue violation that requires bystanders to help out in such a situation. Because this is the first case implementing this law, the prosecutor wants to find out everything he can about Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer in order to win. Jerry and his friends do not have any choice but to call on Jackie Chiles to represent them for the upcoming trial.

Part two[edit]

The second part starts with people associated with the main characters packing for the trial. Jerry's parents, George's parents, Newman, Uncle Leo, J. Peterman, David Puddy, Mickey, Kenny Bania, Susan's parents, the rabbi from Elaine's building, the pool guy, George Steinbrenner, and Keith Hernandez are among those shown. Chiles mounts the defense that the witnesses are only exaggerating to settle scores with the four and that the four did not want to get shot by the criminal, and that the carjacker is free to "laugh and lie".

A lengthy trial ensues, presided over by Judge Arthur Vandelay. George considers this to be a good sign, as Arthur Vandelay was one of the many fake names he used for himself and phony companies he claimed to have worked for. In addition to the officer who arrested them and the carjacking victim, many of the four's former acquaintances — including Marla Penny, the low-talker, Donald Sanger, Babu Bhatt, Yev Kassem, George Steinbrenner and Dr. Wexler from "The Invitations" — are called as character witnesses against them. They tell alternate versions of what really happened, and many of their "enemies" believe that. In addition, many others from New York have made the trip to watch the trial in the courtroom.

Despite the effort of George's mother to try to convince Judge Vandelay to reduce the punishment, the jury finds Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer guilty of doing nothing and they are each sentenced to one year in a state prison.

In the final scene before the credits, the four main characters sit in a jail cell. Kramer is finally able to get the water out of his ears after days of trying. Jerry begins a conversation about George's shirt buttons, using lines from the first episode.[3] George then wonders if they have had that conversation before, to which Jerry acknowledges.

Elaine's minor storyline[edit]

Throughout the first half of the episode, Elaine tries to get hold of her friend Jill. First, she can't get any reception with her cell phone on the street. Then, Jerry interrupts her with news of the pilot pickup and Elaine hangs up on Jill to take the call. Jerry then scolds her for trying to rush the call before they all leave for Paris, and for thinking about calling from the plane. Finally, Elaine decides that she's going to use her one phone call from prison to call Jill, saying that the prison call is the "king of calls".

Epilogue[edit]

In the final scene of the series, Jerry is wearing a Latham County orange jumpsuit, and performing a stand-up routine of prison-related jokes to an audience of fellow prisoners (including Kramer and George; Elaine is not seen as she is in a women's prison). No one is laughing, except for the studio audience and Kramer. As he is then yanked off the stage, he says to his audience, "Hey, you've been great. See you in the cafeteria."

Trial[edit]

During the trial portion of the two-part finale, a large number of witnesses take the stand to testify against the group, often recalling scenarios from earlier seasons that help to implicate them.[4]

More witnesses were shown in deleted scenes:

Broadcast and reception[edit]

The top price for a 30-second commercial during the U.S. broadcast was approximately $1 million.[5]

In its original American broadcast, "The Finale" was viewed by an estimated 76.3 million households becoming the 3rd most viewed series finale in the United States after M*A*S*H and Cheers and the 4th most viewed finale of any kind (series finale and season finale) in the U.S after M*A*S*H, Roots, and Cheers.[6]

When this episode originally aired on NBC, TV Land paid tribute by not programming any shows opposite it, instead just showing a still shot of a closed office door with a pair of hand written notes that said "We're TV Fans so... we're watching the last episode of Seinfeld. Will return at 10pm et, 7pm pt."[7]

The finale of Seinfeld was criticized by many for portraying the main characters as people with no respect for society, and for mocking the audience who tuned in to watch them every week. Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker seemed to echo this sentiment in declaring the episode "off-key and bloated...Ultimately, Seinfeld and David's kiss-off to their fans was a loud, hearty, 'So long, suckers!'"[8]

Others valued it for the large number of cameo appearances from past episodes, as well as the perceived in-joke of the four characters being convicted and imprisoned on the charge that they did nothing, a play on the "show about nothing" mantra.

The night before "The Finale" aired, competing ABC television show Dharma & Greg aired the episode "Much Ado During Nothing". Their story centered around their title characters trying to win back a duck lawn ornament from Dharma's friend Jane by doing the most daring sexual act in public. After getting caught by the police once, they devise a scheme sure to succeed. Their plan centers on them "doing the deed" while the final episode is airing, saying that "...everybody in the country is going to be watching the last episode of Seinfeld."

Although Larry David has stated he has no regrets about how the show ended,[9] a 2010 Time article noted that the Seinfeld reunion during the seventh season of Curb Your Enthusiasm "was viewed by many as his attempt at a do-over."[9] This was also referenced by Jerry in the Curb season finale, saying "We already screwed up one finale" with David responding "we didn't screw up a finale, that was a good finale!"

The U.S. West Coast airing of the finale of Seinfeld coincided with the death of Frank Sinatra. Sinatra's ambulance was able to arrive at his home and then to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center very quickly in light traffic, due to many in Los Angeles being indoors to watch the show.[10][11]

In 2011, the finale was ranked No. 7 on the TV Guide Network special, TV's Most Unforgettable Finales.[12]

Syndication version[edit]

This version had cut several parts from the original episode (US):

Deleted scenes[edit]

The scenes that had to be cut are now available on DVD.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Finale, Part 2 episode on Seinfeld.com". Sony Pictures. Retrieved 2008-06-30. 
  2. ^ "The Finale, Part 1 episode on Seinfeld.com". Sony Pictures. Retrieved 2008-04-21. 
  3. ^ "5 Things You Didn't Know: Seinfeld". AskMen. Retrieved July 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ "The Finale". Seinfeld Scripts. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  5. ^ Battaglio, Stephen. "2010: The Year in Numbers", "TV Insider", TV Guide, December 20, 2010, Page 9
  6. ^ "All Videos—Newest—Video—NBC.com". Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  7. ^ "TV Land Last Seinfeld". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-09-04. 
  8. ^ Reviewed by Ken Tucker (1998-05-29). "Seinfeld Review | News Reviews and News". EW.com. Retrieved 2011-07-15. 
  9. ^ a b "The Lost Finale: Top 10 Most Anticipated Tv Endings". Time. 2010-05-23. 
  10. ^ Caruso, Michelle (1998-05-16). "WAIL OF SIRENS HERALDS CROONER'S LAST HOURS". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved May 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Nancy Sinatra". Sunday Star Times. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  12. ^ TV's Most Unforgettable Finales—Aired May 22, 2011 on TV Guide Network

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