"The Marine Biologist" is the episode that hooked me.
When Kramer hit that golf ball, and George, who at that moment was "transformed" into a marine biologist, later saved the whale by removing a golf ball from the whale's blow hole and later gave one of the great speeches of the series, I was captivated by how amazingly the two storylines crossed paths with a dramatic conclusion.
I was young when the show was originally airing during the 90s, so I didn't get into "Seinfeld" until after that. While the show definitely has aged--it was before cell phones were around and made references to older political and cultural figures that probably go beyond today's audience's interest--it is still by far the best sitcom I've every watched.
The writing of the show was the strength I absolutely admired and cherished about the show. So many episodes dovetailed the storylines together at the end and produced such satisfying conclusions. "Seinfield" wasn't about cheap humor that banked on insults and one-liners (yes, there were one-liners, but that really wasn't the crux of any of the humor). It was clever, sometimes subtle. And as the show evolved, the writing set precedents never before seen in the sitcom television space.
"Seinfeld," which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the airing of its pilot episode called "The Seinfeld Chronicles" last week, has had unrivaled staying power. The show became a cultural phenomenon that invaded our vernacular with terms--including "double dip" and "close talker"--as well as phrases--such as "yada yada yada" and "not that there's anything wrong with that." It was the first sitcom to continue arcing storylines to the degree it did, similarly to how soap operas were written. It wasn't so much that you wouldn't get the story without having seen the previous week's episode, but quite often the show would make references from earlier in the season or series, something that's the norm with a lot of subsequent shows through the years.
What started as a show about where a comedian gets his material turned into the show about "nothing" we all know and love. It covered, as Jerry Seinfeld once described, the gaps in society, the unspoken rules about random, everyday stuff. If an engaged couple breaks up, what happens to the gifts they got at their party? If a couple splits up and had plans to go to a mutual friend's house, who withdraws and what's the etiquette? It's these kind of relatable situations that makes "Seinfeld" so classic.
And there was no subject matter that was off limits. Seeing "The Contest" or "The Mango" episodes are enough proof of that.
Trying to pick the Top 10 episodes of the series would be like trying to pick the 10 best Michael Jordan performances; there are too many great ones to pick. But here are some of my favorites:
"The Frogger": Watching George try to push the Frogger arcade machine across the street from an eagle-eye perspective just warms my heart. That episode also showed how "Seinfeld" broke through the traditional sitcom barriers when it came to set pieces. Shows simply didn't get that extravagant before.
"The Pick": Jerry gets caught picking his nose by his supermodel girlfriend in the car across from him at a stop light. George and Jerry have a humorous discussion about the difference between a pick and a scratch, Moses being a picker, as well as whether someone is datable after getting caught. It's the same episode that Elaine's nipple is visible on a Christmas card she makes and sends out to hundreds of people. With a cool twist of parallel writing, Jerry and Elaine give separate speeches during which Jerry proclaims "I AM NOT AN ANIMAL" and Elaine says she isn't the one exposed, "FOR I HAVE SEEN THE NIPPLE ON YOUR SOUL."
"The Race": Jerry runs into a former classmate of his who claims Jerry cheated in a big schoolyard race when they were kids. Jerry refused to race again as a kid, saying "I choose not to run!" But he gets convinced to race him this time around. At the end of the episode, the writers cleverly time Kramer to start his car, which leads to a big explosion that sounds like the gun shooting off to start the race as Jerry once again gets a head start on way to victory. While he's running, the music to Superman starts playing in the background. At the end of the race, he finds his girlfriend, conveniently named Lois. She asks him "Will you go to Hawaii with me," to which he responds "Maybe I will, Lois. Maybe I will." Then he breaks the fourth wall by winking to the camera, something that normally is frowned upon, but somehow seemed just the right way to end the episode.
"The Outing": While I disagree with the phrase on a personal level, this episode gave us "Not that there's anything wrong with that," about being gay. The topic of the show was so serious as a hot-button issue (it still is today, obviously), yet the show was able to tread lightly and create humor out of the situation.
"The Invitations": Not necessarily one of my favorite episodes, but easily one of my favorite moments is when Jerry dates a girl who is just like he is. She reads comic books, eats cereal and has no sensitivity for others. "Now I know what I've been looking for all these years: MYSELF! I've been waiting for ME to come along. And now I've swept myself off my feet," Jerry says. So hilarious.
Other favorite episodes of mine are "The Beard," "The Yada Yada," "The Soup Nazi," "The Switch" and, of course, "The Contest."