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There they were, in the same diner, in the same (more or less) booth – Jerry and George trading the same yada-yada-yada as if no time had passed since the last full episode of “Seinfeld” aired more than 15 years ago.
The semi-expected, semi-“Seinfeld” reunion during Sunday night’s Super Bowl proved that on the show about nothing, nothing ever changes – not that there’s anything wrong with that.
The spot explained why Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander were spotted recently outside Tom’s Restaurant, the Manhattan diner that served as the exterior for the fictional Monk’s on the long-running NBC comedy. It also showed that even after all these years, Jerry and George find their comfort food in the same place – and so do “Seinfeld” fans.
The short, ostensibly an ad for Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” web series on Crackle, gave us the duo discussing the art of “the mumble.” They also bickered over George getting disinvited to an annual Super Bowl gathering because two years ago he dared to “over-cheer” and – worst of all – use the bathroom in the hosts’ master bedroom.
“You know why,” George said.
“I know why. Everyone knew why. But you don’t do it – not at the Wassersteins!” Jerry replied with his trademark sardonic exasperation.
There was no sign of Elaine or Kramer – but Newman showed up for his usual uncomfortable “Hello, Jerry.”
Wayne Knight, who plays Newman, looked remarkably unchanged. And while Seinfeld and Alexander might have lost some hair, they’ve lost nothing on their delivery, falling right into their familiar rhythm.
It was great to have them back, even if for just 90 or so seconds at halftime (there’s a longer, six-plus-minute version on the “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” site).
To ask why they went to the trouble would be folly. Maybe Seinfeld is still trying to make up for the 1998 series finale that some fans found disappointing. Maybe the show-within-show “Seinfeld” reunion arc on co-creator Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in late 2009 gave him ideas about keeping the characters alive. Maybe Jerry and George still need to prove that when it comes to Tom’s/Monk’s, they’re still the master of their domain.
The “Seinfeld” flashback of sorts came during a Super Bowl where commercial breaks brimmed with old, familiar faces: The Muppets, the guys from “Full House” – and a Radio Shack 1980s-themed ad that teamed, among others, Cliff Clavin, Alf and Chuckie.
But Seinfeld and Alexander’s bit upstaged them all, showing there’s still something super about nothing. Check out the full version of their mini-episode – dubbed "The Over-Cheer" – here.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.