The SEINFELD Curse (I): A Look at THE MICHAEL RICHARDS SHOW

Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday! The title of this post is a minor misnomer; you see, I originally intended to use this entry to launch a four-week series on the post-Seinfeld sitcom efforts of its ensemble cast, beginning here with The Michael Richards Show (2000, NBC) and continuing on next week with Bob Patterson (2001, ABC) — halting the next Wednesday for our monthly Pre-Code post — and then following two weeks later with Watching Ellie (2002-2003, NBC) and Listen Up! (2004-2005, CBS). I still intend to cover those last three series, but after watching all eight aired episodes of The Michael Richards Show, I just can’t bring myself to concoct meaningful coverage. I promised a while ago that I wouldn’t cover shows that were absolutely without merit, and I’m afraid this one falls into that category. In fact, it’s The Michael Richards Show that is most responsible for the myth of the “Seinfeld Curse” — that is, the semi-serious belief that the aforementioned hit’s regulars couldn’t have any other significant TV success due to the looming specters of their iconic characters. (Of course, Louis-Dreyfus has since blown this theory to smithereens — more than once — but not first without a casualty of her own!)

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Nevertheless, I was hoping to be objective about its strengths and weaknesses — as usual — but what I found was a sitcom that was just bad in every sense of the word. I have nothing good to say, except that, from a critical point-of-view, I know exactly why the “Seinfeld Curse” became a phenomenon: this series (which was actually created by several of Seinfeld‘s scribes) was so dreadful that it’s hard to imagine some outside hex not being placed upon the show. Nothing can be this poor, right? Well, it’s sad but true, and Richards clearly is having trouble escaping the ghost of Kramer (which inhibits him from settling on a specific characterization), but this dilemma just speaks to larger character issues of single dimensionality and ill-defintion for all involved. Furthermore, the premise, Richards as a private investigator, is unworkable: story-driven and not conducive to laughs — far from the allegedly low-concept set-up to which the Seinfeld vets were accustomed. So I can’t bring myself to discuss the series any further. I’m glad I watched it for my study of the three upcoming shows in this series (over with this one’s stench will linger) — and you can find all eight aired episodes on YouTube — but if you’re looking for any semblance of entertainment (the premise of this blog), stay away. Stay far away.

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Okay, now that I’ve done away with The Michael Richards Show, I still have to present something interesting; so, in my quest to find a rare sitcom episode that aired on this day (May 10th), here’s an artifact broadcast 60 years ago tonight: the premiere offering of the Betty White sitcom Date With The Angels (1957-1958, ABC). It’s titled “Vickie Goes To A Party” [a.k.a. “The Randell Dinner Party”], and didn’t make my January 2015 list of the series’ best episodes — it wouldn’t make my list of being among the series’ worst either — but it’s sufficiently cute and charming for a C-level ’50s comedy (plus it’s a multi-cam). This installment, which was written by George Tibbles (story and teleplay) & Charles Hoffman (teleplay) and directed by James V. Kern, doesn’t circulate like the majority of the series. Please enjoy!

 

 

Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in on Monday for our monthly Musical Theatre post!

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