Anyone who is a fan of 90s sitcoms will know Seinfeld well. It was a brilliant show based in New York City and the themes were always completely banal. The characters (namely Kramer, Elaine, Jerry, George and I'm going to add Newman here because, even though not as prominent as the others, was such a great character) would discuss the most inane subjects with great enthusiasm. There was nothing like it at the time. It even had multiple episodes where it acknowledged the ridiculousness of it all by having two of the characters become sitcom writers who are pitching an idea for a show about 'nothing'. Created by Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, the show ran from 1989 to 1998 and spanned nine seasons. It was a heady mix of slapstick, sarcasm, snappy dialogue and stand-up comedy.
The main cast of Seinfeld
In the spirit of nothingness, this classic episode (season three, episode six) took place mainly in the parking lot of a mall and very little occurred. Out of this void of plot-points or twists, came a hilarious gem of an episode. It all begins as it always does, with a monologue from Jerry Seinfeld. In it he talks about problems navigating malls and his issues with reading in-mall maps, seeing as they're vertical and the actual mall is, well, horizontal.
Kramer is in need of a new air conditioner and he and the gang head to an anonymous mall in New Jersey in order to get one. As they are headed down the stairs to the parking garage, Seinfeld bemoans spending his Saturday at the mall with his friends. The trouble starts when they forget where the car is parked. Thereafter ensues four very personal struggles with which the quartett need to battle; Elaine has a goldfish in a bag and is in fear for its life, Kramer must carry the sizeable and hefty air conditioning unit, George needs to return home in order to take his parents out for their anniversary dinner (if you know his parents, you know the fear of being late is very real) and Jerry is in desperate need of a pee.
Elaine grows ever more concerned over the wellbeing of her goldfish
All four characters decide to deal with the situation in four very different ways. Elaine takes to begging random people to ride her around in order to cover more surface area. She grows ever more angry as people refuse to help, to the point where she needs to be dragged from a fight with two muscle-bound men. Jerry eventually resolves to find a dark corner in which to relieve himself of his burden. Kramer jettisons the air conditioning unit in the hope that he will be able to retrieve it once the car is found.
The mysterious and beautiful Scientologist
Mid-urination, Jerry is caught by mall security. Of the many excuses he attempts to use to squirm out of the situation, is fact that he is afflicted by the rare condition, uromisitisis, where he must absolutely pee as soon as the urge takes him or else he may die. The excuse doesn't fly and he remains trapped. And what about George? Well, George just gets caught up in his own neuroscese, which cripples him as it has done on so many previous occasions. As he slowly descends into complete nihilism (the stage he enters after being convinced that he is in a science fiction movie), he finds a beautiful redhead who agrees to drive them around the lot... if you want to know the rest you will have to watch the show. It is highly recommended that you do so.
A brief DVD extra discussing the making of 'the parking garage'
Seinfeld and David went on to work on other projects (Jerry returned to stand-up for a time and Larry made another great show, curb your enthusiasm), but Seinfeld will always remain the televisual crowning glory of these two great men. This particular episode highlighted so perfectly the unique style that was created with Seinfeld. The fact that one could be entertained for 25 minutes or so by four people wandering around a grey parking lot is a testament to the comedic ability of the cast and creators. It was also a surprisingly complex affair filming this episode, an actual parking lot couldn't be used so one had to be purpose-built on the Seinfeld set, no mean feat I'm sure. Also, the amount of walking the actors had to do during the filming had them all exhausted, Kramer even cut his mouth on the air conditioner he was carrying around (yes, he was actually carrying a real air conditioner) and bled for the episode! Larry David reveals it was an incredibly hard episode to write given the simplicity of the premise.
I can definitely relate to the story, as I'm sure you can. There has always been that time when you forget where you have parked. I'm certain there have also been times when you have been driven by someone somewhere and, on return to the car, they do that thing where they stop in their tracks and begin to look behind them. You didn't check when you left the car because you thought your friend had it in hand, but when you see your friend do the turnaround... you knew you were in trouble! I personally couldn't find my car in a mall parking lot once and had to call for help, so depsperate I became. Turns out I was parked in a completely different carpark to the one I was searching. My friends have never let me forget that incident. The show only really hit its prime at around season five, but this is an earlier treasure and I highly recommend it.