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A Seinfeld revival? Here's what they need to do to get it right

Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards
Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Television in 2018 is a clutter of reboots and revivals, but Jerry Seinfeld has always managed to resist the allure of bringing back his beloved 1990s sitcom. That is, until now. Maybe. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on Tuesday, Seinfeld indicated a softening of his resolve, saying of a revival is “possible”.

Now, let’s not get excited here. A Seinfeld revival is possible, but only in the same way that the Queen of England developing a taste for human blood and going on a murderous rampage through the streets of London is possible. It is possible in the same way that it is possible for you to put your fist inside your mouth. Just because something is possible, it doesn’t make it likely, or desirable.

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld. Photograph: Christopher Lane

But it could happen. The cast is all free. Throwing himself back into sitcoms would give Seinfeld the opportunity to stop drinking coffee in cars with other comedians. Now that Veep is coming to an end, Julia Louis-Dreyfus could delve back into Elaine. Jason Alexander has a little-watched sitcom on something called the Audience Network and a film career that recently included a small voice part on a direct-to-DVD Tom and Jerry cartoon about the Wizard of Oz, so he would obviously jump at the chance. And then there is Michael Richards, who doesn’t seem to have been up to much for the past decade or so. With Larry David’s writing muscles warmed up by the last series of Curb Your Enthusiasm, it is easy to imagine the whole team getting back together for one last jaunt around the block. The money they would earn would be astronomical, too.

And there are creative reasons that might prompt the revival. Famously, the Seinfeld finale was one of the most divisive in television history, pushing the “no hugging, no learning” diktat to a genuinely unpleasant – and often less than funny – degree. A new series of Seinfeld would be an opportunity to rewrite history and stick the landing once and for all, and that could be too tempting to pass up.

But there have already been a couple of low-key Seinfeld reunions, and they both argue firmly against any more in their own ways. On the one hand, there was the short in-character two-hander between Seinfeld and Alexander that functioned as a miniature Super Bowl episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee in 2014. Although it was only six-minutes long, it still managed to be hammy and laboured enough to taint your good memories of Seinfeld. The timing was off, the reactions were boggle-eyed. It had the vague shape of Seinfeld, but it was like watching two dads in a disco.

On the other hand, there was the seventh series of Curb Your Enthusiasm. This is where, in a contrived bid to win back the affections of his estranged wife, Larry David organised a Seinfeld reunion that brought all the cast back together to the Seinfeld set. Miraculously, it hit all the beats of stupidity and nostalgia that you would expect from a reunion show. The cast were charming and loose. The lines were endlessly quotable (“Icon, icon, no-con”). The way it folded in on itself at the climax – with Larry David doing an impersonation of Jason Alexander playing George Costanza, a character who was based on Larry David – was breathtaking. What’s more, it contained one of the most perfectly filthy jokes ever broadcast. This was the finale that Seinfeld deserved. It was an extraordinary high point, and to go on after that just seems unnecessary.

But it is possible. It definitely shouldn’t happen, but it is possible.

This article titled "A Seinfeld revival? Here's what they need to do to get it right" was written by Stuart Heritage, for on Wednesday 14 February 2018 12.01pm

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