The Comeback (Seinfeld)
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||David Owen Trainor|
|Written by||Gregg Kavet
|Original air date||January 30, 1997|
Like many episodes of Seinfeld, this episode contains a plotline for each of the main characters. George Costanza goes to great lengths to deliver a retort to a coworker (the eponymous comeback, a phenomenon described by the French expression "L'esprit de l'escalier"). Jerry Seinfeld knows the secret of a worker from a tennis club pro shop — that he is a bad tennis player. After seeing a movie, Cosmo Kramer decides he needs a living will. Elaine Benes has a tragic romance with a video rental shop worker who shares her taste in movies.
George Costanza has a conflict with one of his coworkers at the New York Yankees named Reilly (Joel Polis). When Reilly notices George stuffing himself with shrimp cocktail at a meeting, he remarks: "Hey George, the ocean called; they're running out of shrimp." Slow-witted George cannot think of a comeback until later, while driving to the tennis club to meet Jerry. His comeback is: "Well, the Jerk Store called, and they're running out of you." George becomes obsessed with recreating the encounter so that he can make use of his comeback.
Jerry, Elaine and Kramer disapprove of "jerk store" as a comeback mainly because "there are no jerk stores." Elaine suggests, "Your cranium called. It's got some space to rent." Jerry offers, "The zoo called. You're due back by six." Kramer finally suggests that George simply tell Reilly that he had sex with his wife.
After discovering that Reilly has changed jobs to Firestone in Akron, Ohio, George flies there to attend the meeting, and brings a tray of shrimp just to try out the jerk store line. When he says it, Reilly simply shoots back with "What's the difference? You're their all-time best seller." George, fumbling for words, ends up using Kramer's line, "Yeah? Well I had sex with your wife!" He is then told that Reilly's wife is in a coma.
During the end credits, George is seen driving away from the airport back in New York, muttering to himself that he could not think of another comeback, when he utters, "The life support machine called...", and after having thought up a new comeback, in an ecstatic fit, whips his car into a U-turn to head back to the airport and fly back to Akron while yelling out "You're meat, Reilly! You just screwed yourself!"
The Bad Tennis Player
Jerry meets George at a private tennis club to play tennis. He goes to the pro shop where he is pressured into buying a brand new racquet by the worker there — an Eastern European man named Miloš (Mark Harelik). Later, while playing at a different club with Elaine, Jerry discovers that Miloš is a horrible tennis player. In Jerry's eyes, this undermines Miloš' credibility as a salesman.
When Jerry confronts Miloš at the pro shop, he offers to do anything in exchange for Jerry not revealing his secret. Jerry implies that if Miloš sets him up with an attractive woman that they see in the shop, he will be silent. Later Jerry runs into the woman, who is named Patty (Ivana Miličević), waiting for him outside his apartment. She initially comes on strong, but recoils in shame after revealing that she is Miloš' wife and was instructed to come onto Jerry by her husband (of course she does not know Miloš' reason for setting up the date was to convince Jerry to keep his secret). The incident makes her lose respect for Miloš.
In a new deal, Miloš wants Jerry to let him win in a game of tennis to regain Patty's respect. During the game, Miloš becomes boastful and gloating. After winning another game against Jerry, he exclaims "Another game for Miloš!" Frustrated at Miloš' taunts, Jerry begins to play harder. He hits a ball wide of Miloš, who swings wildly at it, releasing his racquet into the air, which finally comes down on another tennis player, who falls on a ball machine, redirecting its aim to Kramer's head.
Elaine runs into Kramer at Champagne Video, while browsing the staff picks. Elaine is a fan of Vincent's picks, with whom she has the same taste in movies. Later, while Elaine is watching Vincent's latest pick, he calls her on the telephone. Elaine becomes romantically interested in him, but is unable to meet him in person.
On a subsequent visit to the video store, Kramer convinces Elaine to forego Vincent's pick in favor of a Gene pick, Weekend at Bernie's II. Vincent feels betrayed by this and terminates their relationship. He sends her the play button from his VCR, and stops making picks.
After Elaine rents Vincent's pick that she spurned in favor of Weekend at Bernie's II, Vincent agrees to meet her at his apartment if she brings some things from the store. The stuff he wants includes vodka, cigarettes and fireworks. When she is at his apartment, he refuses to open the door all the way so that Elaine is unable to see his face. A woman comes to the door; she turns out to be Vincent's mom, who reveals that Vincent is 15 years old. Mortified, Elaine takes the vodka from the bag and walks off.
Vincent is a reference to Vincent Van Gogh. The VCR Play Button he sends Elaine in the mail is a reference for Van Gogh's ear.
While at the video store, Kramer rents The Other Side of Darkness, a (fictional) straight-to-video movie that deals with a woman in a coma. Frightened by the movie, he has a living will drawn up. At first he considers making Jerry his executor, but decides that he is too sentimental after Jerry refuses to throw away his old tennis racquet. He decides Elaine should be his executor instead and they meet with a lawyer named Shellbach (played by Ben Stein).
After Kramer finishes watching the movie (when the woman miraculously comes out of the coma), he decides he needs to get his living will annulled, but he misses his appointment with Shellbach. He learns that he can catch up with Shellbach at the tennis club. When he catches up with him, a sequence of events caused by Jerry and Miloš's tennis game causes a ball machine to fire at Kramer at top speed. Kramer collapses and ends up in the hospital. When Elaine visits him, looking for an outlet for her VCR, she unplugs a large plug. Kramer wakes up, and seeing the plug, he thinks Elaine is removing his life-support.
The tennis court scenes in this episode were set in an indoor court, but the crew could not find an available indoor court in all of Los Angeles to use as a filming location. To compensate, they used a massive crane to drape a large tent over an outdoor tennis court, making it look like an indoor court. Unfortunately, this episode was filmed during the period when El Niño was beginning to affect the weather patterns in the United States, resulting in heavy rain in Los Angeles on the week the crew needed to shoot their tennis court scenes. The rain collected on the outside of the tent, and several large puddles can be seen on the court in several shots in the episode. The tent finally collapsed in a heap shortly after filming of the master shots wrapped, so the remaining footage was filmed back at the studio on a makeshift half-court set.
The role of Vincent was played by Danny Strong and voiced by Robby Benson. In real life, Strong was knowledgeable about films from an early age. He would rent videos from Video Archives, becoming friends with Quentin Tarantino, who worked there as a clerk. "I would just literally sit and chat with him for 45 minutes, an hour at a time about movies, and he got me turned on to all these different movies that 10 year olds don't see... He was a fantastic video store clerk, because he was such a movie buff. He had so much knowledge of films, that he would try to get people to watch really cool movies."
The role of Reilly was played by character actor Joel Polis.
Chris Taylor wrote, "There's a classic episode of the American television show Seinfeld called "The Comeback" where a main character, George Costanza, is in a meeting, eating shrimp as quickly as he can. A coworker quips, "Hey, George, the ocean called and they're running out of shrimp." George, caught off guard, has nothing to say. He thinks of a response after the meeting has ended, and becomes obsessed with recreating the moment so he can respond with, "Oh yeah? Well, the jerk store called, and they're running outta you." Of course he fails. The true moral to the story becomes, "Once the moment passes, the response loses context and relevance."
David Sims of The A.V. Club wrote, "Things are pretty disconnected in this episode, although Kramer, Jerry and Elaine all sorta come together by the end (just for a cheap, quick gag, but it's a decent one)... Elaine's romance with Vincent (played, oh so briefly, by a young Danny Strong) is more fun, although as a Phantom of the Opera spoof it feels very stale... But I like the communication that goes on between them through the video aisles and Vincent's battle for artistic supremacy with the more middle-of-the-road Gene (whose recommendation of Weekend at Bernie's 2 doesn't go over well with Elaine). It turns out, of course, that Vincent is a teenager leveraging Elaine to buy him vodka, fireworks and cigarettes. The connection between these episodes, actually, is how pitiful Elaine's romantic prospects have become (while the boys continue to date increasingly beautiful specimens)."
Nick Suss wrote for the site StoriesHouse, "Like most episodes of Seinfeld, The Comeback wove four plots together seamlessly while connecting each of them with conversation. The episode was witty, silly, poignant and above all else laden with quotes. Most notably, this episode led us to all references to "The Jerk Store," to which we owe the writing staff a great deal of debt. (Think about it: without "The Jerk Store called, and they're running out of you!," we probably wouldn't have had the Toilet Store remark from Anchorman and we would all be much sadder as a result. Food for thought.) In other news, the show also featured Jerry getting tennis lessons from a poor tennis player, Elaine dating a teenager over the phone and Kramer filling out his last will and testament... Even if the first few episodes started off slowly as many say they did, the episodes which were easily the most enjoyable were in fact those. It just holds testament to how much we loved the show and still love the show that the idea of a comeback was so enticing."
- Sims, David (December 15, 2011). "The Little Jerry/The Comeback". The AV Club. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Ken P. (May 19, 2003). "An Interview with Danny Strong". IGN. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Taylor, Chris (15 March 2013). "Does Work Sometimes Feel Like a Seinfeld Episode?". TIBCO. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Suss, Nick (May 31). "Sitcomology 1: The Comeback and The Betrayal". StoriesHouse. Retrieved August 20, 2013. Check date values in:
- Oliver, David (May 19, 2007). "DVD REVIEW: SEINFELD – SEASON 8". CHUD.com. Retrieved August 20, 2013.