Honestly, it was very difficult coming up with only 5 episodes that I enjoyed – I had a short-list of about 10 shows, and had to whittle it down.
Seinfeld is great for the reason that it has a minimal if not nonexistent story arc from episode to episode, and as a result, you can watch really whatever episode you feel like watching at a given point in time. And I do that often – preferring my favorites and weeding out the not-so-good ones. Most of my favorites (and as a result most of this list) are the silly and absurd episodes, because they’re just guaranteed to make me laugh every time. Here are my Top 5:
5. “The Millennium” (Season 8, Episode 20)
“Babe Ruth was nothing more than a fat old man with little-girl legs. And here’s something I just found out recently. He wasn’t really a sultan!” – Steinbrenner (Larry David)
This episode has a somewhat sentimental side to it – Kramer having to choose between his friends Jerry and Newman when it comes to millennium parties (Kramer wants to hold his own, but Newman’s party has been planned “since 1978” and is bound to be better – but Newman refuses to invite Jerry) – but most of it’s just ridiculous (Jerry’s position on the speed dial, George trying to get himself fired by destroying the one of the Yankees’ Commissioner’s Trophies, getting strawberry stains on Babe Ruth’s jersey, and streaking the field in a body suit, so he can be the Director of Scouting for the Mets), and that’s something I love.
4. “The Marine Biologist” (Season 5, Episode 14)
“The sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to return soup at a deli!” – George Costanza (Jason Alexander)
I love how the actions of the principals all connect in this episode: Jerry tells a college alum about George being a Marine Biologist, who then has to play that role in real life when a beach whale comes ashore due to Kramer hitting golf balls out in the Rockaways, which in turn caused him to have sand in his shoe, causing him to drop the shoe on Newman’s head feet below, which is a reference to the woman hit in the head twice by the electronic organizer Elaine was given from Jerry. (You might need to pull out your thumbtacks and colored string from that one.) In the end, none of the characters win – Kramer ends up hating golf, George gets dumped by his college friend, Elaine ends up twice mortified in front of the famed (and fictional) writer Igor Testikov, and Jerry having his favorite shirt, “Golden Boy,” finally die – but that’s kind of how the show worked – it was truly a show fueled largely by Schadenfreude.
3. “The Pledge Drive” (Season 6, Episode 3 – you can watch it online here)
“She has a very fixed budget! Stop the show!” – Uncle Leo Seinfeld (Len Lesser)
This show was kind of made funny by two elements: the presence of Uncle Leo (the recently-departed Len Lesser), and the growth in eating of candy with utensils. The episode began with Elaine’s boss, Mr. Pitt (Ian Abercrombie) eating a Snickers bar with a knife and fork, which George and soon the rest of the city begin to copy. Aside from the moderately funny plot of Jerry cashing his grandmother’s checks from birthdays long ago (causing that account to be overdrawn), the rest of the story is kind of forgettable – but Uncle Leo and fancy Snickers eating just makes it great.
2. “The Pez Dispenser” (Season 3, Episode 14)
“We used to do that when one of our polar bears stopped coming. We would go to his house and say, “What you don’t want to be a polar bear anymore? It’s too cold for you?” – Old Polar Bear (Allen Bloomfield)
It’s fitting that the silver-medalist on this list features the most absurd scene, and the first-placer may well be the most absurd episode – with both airing in the third season of the show. This episode starts off kind of slow – Elaine’s laugh haunting George’s girlfriend’s concert, George preemptively dumping his girlfriend to gain “hand,” and the infamous Kramerian idea of making a cologne that smells like the beach (referenced a season later in “The Pick,” which was an honorable mention to this list) – but the actual intervention scene for Richie (Chris Barnes) is completely crazy. Filled with some of Jerry’s friends that we’ve never seen before and won’t see after (a guy whose nose is constantly bleeding, a guy looking maniacally for ice cubes), and of course the old man from the Polar Bear Club who’s looking to finance Kramer’s fragrance. Truly a Who’s Who of crazy people.
1. “The Pen” (Season 3, Episode 3 – watch it online here)
“It’s only for three days. Today’s over and we have tommorow. We leave on Sunday. It’s one day, really.” – Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld)
One of the few episodes that doesn’t take place in New York (and one of the few that feature neither Kramer nor George), it’s a whole episode that revolves around giving away and then taking back an astronaut pen, and back pain from a bed. Truly this would be the trip from hell, but watching it unfold to our heroes, it’s hilarious.