"The Jimmy" (Season 6, Episode 19, originally aired March 16, 1995)
This episode is a perfect example of how Seinfeld gets away with somewhat controversial material by presenting it in its usual cheerful, sitcommy manner. I'm not saying "The Jimmy" is really scandalous, but considering one of the main jokes is that Jerry got molested by Tim Whatley, and another set-piece revolves around Kramer being continually mistaken for a mentally challenged person (his performance reminded me of Ben Stiller's Simple Jack a little bit), well, it's always great to see Seinfeld slip in gags like that without ever feeling tonally jarring.
What's especially funny about Jerry's plot is how disconnected and ridiculously pointless it is. Tim is somewhat involved in the rest of the story in that he gives Kramer novocaine, setting him up to look disabled, but mostly the punchline to the plot is that Jerry gets molested. That's it! Jerry being upset doesn't affect anything in the episode, it gets the least time devoted to it and the punchline only comes in the post-credits scene (delivered, brilliantly, through a Penthouse letter read by Kramer). We're just left with Jerry's confused face as he processes what happened to him. But nobody even really cares — as Elaine says earlier in the episode, "So what! You're single!"
Tim's character almost seems like a one-upmanship challenge among the writers to make him more douchey every time he appears. We won't see him again for a while, but he's racked up quite a litany of sins this season, and that shirt he wears while he puts Jerry under (after taking a hit of nitrous oxide himself) might be the greatest of them all.
"The Jimmy" also effectively skewers the "guy who talks about himself in the third person" in a cute way, by having Elaine think she's going on a date with someone else when she chats to the titular Jimmy, who is a bit of a relentless self-promoter. Along with saying "Jimmy" instead of "I," he also convinces George to go in with him on selling special training shoes, as well as bearing a grudge against Kramer for accidentally breaking his leg. He's almost spread a little too thin in this episode, with some jokes (like his burning rage) coming out of nowhere, but he's generally weird enough that nothing he does feels too out-of-character. Plus, the way he announces his vendetta against Kramer is simultaneously chipper and creepy. "Jimmy's gonna get you, Kramer! Jimmy holds grudges!"
Compared to Elaine's pronoun-based mix-up and Kramer's novocaine-fueled stardom with the AMCA (Able Mentally Challenged Adults), George's plot is nice and simple. It basically hinges on the fact that when he sweats, he looks guilty. And really funny. I spent five minutes taking screencaps of George sweating in both his scenes (the first time because his gym shower "didn't take," the second time because "George likes his chicken spicy") because Jason Alexander is the master of looking supremely uncomfortable. The Yankees then assume he's guilty of stealing equipment (including, it seems, the infield tarp?) but it's resolved when George goes to see Steinbrenner and talks in the third person. That joke doesn't really land, and ending a plot by having Steinbrenner give a wacky monologue is maybe not the freshest thing this show's ever done, but the Steinbrenner scenes are never not funny. "You know, you could put that fancy mustard on a shoe and it'd taste good to me!"
The oddest thing about this episode to me is how crazy the laugh track goes when Mel Tormé (aka The Velvet Fog) serenades a bemused-looking Kramer. It's a great scene, and it's wonderful to see Tormé sing anything, but the joke goes over like nothing else in this episode. Like I said, Kramer's act reminded me of Simple Jack and a number of other gags in that vein, but that brand of humor was probably a little more outré in 1995.
"The Doodle" (Season 6, Episode 20, originally aired April 6, 1995)
This is a very big episode, with a lot of physical humor (Elaine fumbling around Jerry's apartment, Newman resisting the urge to scratch his flea bites) and the very wacky sight of Jerry's relatives colonizing a suite at the Plaza Hotel and behaving like spoilt rock stars. The plots all peter out without a bang (with the notable exception of the Plaza plot, which I'll get to later) but "The Doodle" is a really good one anyway, just because of the consistent laugh factor.
Still, a lot of things really come out of left field here. We start with Elaine putting up Jerry's parents in the Plaza because his place is getting fumigated and she is pretending to be out-of-town for a job interview. Helen and Morty are behaving as usual by the start of the episode, but hours into their time at the hotel, Uncle Leo and Jerry's nana are both there with them, getting drunk, watching Under Siege and generally causing a lot of property damage.
Why that happens, apart from the general lure of staying for free at the Plaza, is never addressed; they don't really atone for ruining Elaine's chances at a job either. But who cares? Helen wearing furs, or nana sipping champagne, is such a jarring sight, it's worth the laugh. And the closing gag, where Leo greets Elaine in a towel with the line, "They said they were sending over an Asian woman!" is about as gross as Seinfeld's ever going to get, and the best way to end this kind of episode.
George's plot with the returning Christa Miller (she's the bra sales woman whose fabric he felt in "The Sniffing Accountant") bumbles along in typically George fashion for most of the episode. He can't be happy that he's dating a woman who doesn't care about his looks, even though before he found that out, he was paranoid that she did care about his looks, negatively. It's the kind of George logic applied to a beautiful woman he's dating that gets everyone else in the show scratching their head. But then something great happens — he decides to accept the fact that she's not interested in looks and use that information to actually be happy, achieving his ultimate dream of being wrapped in velvet. It's a beautiful sight gag, a great callback to "The Label Maker" from earlier this year, and an unusual turn for a George story.
It's a bit of a let-down when they reverse his decision in the next scene because she does something gross, but this is Seinfeld, and women don't stick around for long, we know that. Plus, as fun as it is when George behaves unlike himself, we need the comfort of his hypocrisy to make us feel better about ourselves.
Even though the title of the episode is "The Doodle" and I love the brief glimpses we get of Paula's grotesque George caricature, Jerry's fleas are really the driving source of most of the plots this week. Although I love Elaine's mad dash through his apartment, and Kramer's loss of taste buds during Mackinaw peach season, I wish Jerry's revulsion could have been exploited further, considering that another plot focuses on his disgust at eating food, and later a toothbrush, that has been in his girlfriend's mouth. Instead, we get a nice bit of Jerry vs. Newman, but that plot twist comes out of nowhere and vanishes just as quickly, with Newman's only comeuppance that he gets chased by a dog that Kramer lets loose. Still, I'm not going to deny that Newman jumping around and scratching madly isn't funny; nor is his fearful dash down the street. Everything in this episode is funny, so who am I to complain?
I know Mel Tormé gets a bit of a ribbing in this episode (especially his nickname) but I love that guy, and I love that he's happy to be in on the joke for the episode.
"These losses stay with me. They FESTER, Jerry!"
Jerry really is perturbed by the least bit of emotion. "I can't watch a man sing a song…they get all emotional, they sway, it's embarrassing!"
"You can't find beauty in a man?" "No, I find them repugnant and unappealing." Kramer enters. "To wit."
Kramer thinks George Will is attractive. "He has a clean look, scrubbed and shampooed." But, "I don't find him all that bright."
"Do you think Jimmy likes Mel Tormé?" "Jimmy loves the Velvet Fog!"
"Jimmy might have a compound fracture! Jimmy's going into shock!"
"Is this guy a dentist or is he Caligula?"
"I'd rather she hate me and thought I was good looking."
Morty loves macadamia nuts. "Do you know what these cost? They're like 80 cents a nut!"
"I know the chunky that left these Chunkys! NEWMAN! I GOT him!"
Jerry, of course, makes a great Velvet Fog reference to George when he enters in velvet.