"Seinfeld" The Stakeout (TV Episode 1990) Poster

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"Art Core... velay"
MaxBorg896 November 2007
The Stakeout can be considered the proper start of Seinfeld, as the pilot had no Elaine and the other characters, bar Jerry, weren't that well defined, and boy, does it deliver: while most shows, especially sitcoms, improve in later seasons (even cult phenomenon Happy Days had a few sub-par moments in its first year), the series "about nothing" started superbly and never lost its edge over the course of 175 episodes.

This is the episode where Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) makes her first appearance, and in true Seinfeld fashion her debut doesn't go unnoticed: she and Jerry have a nice chat in a video store, discussing whether they should go to a dinner and telling a "dirty" joke that was pretty bold for 1991 (the stand-up comedian imagines a porn star's father referring to his son as a "public fornicator"). Subsequently, Jerry goes home to find his parents using his couch as a bed (priceless) and then attends the aforementioned dinner, where he meets a woman he is quite attracted to ("Do you date immature men?" "Almost exclusively"). Regrettably, he doesn't remember her name (Vanessa), nor did he ask for her phone number. All he remembers is the name of the law firm where she works (Sagman, Bennet, Robbins, Oppenheim and Taft - try forgetting THAT!), meaning he and George have to wait for her outside the building pretending they popped up by chance.

Taking everything that made The Seinfeld Chronicles excellent and fine-tuning it, Larry David and the protagonist define the formula that would make the series immortal: brilliant dialogue about rubbish topics (women using cheques), Jerry's monologues between one scene and the next, and one key moment for each cast member. In the case of this episode, the highlights are the bits featuring Kramer and George: the former shows up to play scrabble with Helen and Morty Seinfeld and invents the word "quone" (as in "to quone something"), while the latter, having to make up an excuse for him and Jerry being outside Vanessa's office, spawns one of the show's best recurring gags ("Art Vandelay. I'm an architect").

In short, The Stakeout is a quintessential Seinfeld episode: clever, well-written and, most of all, endlessly funny. A classic.
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What's wrong with Lonnie Anderson?
callanvass16 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Jerry and Elaine have recently broken up and have a platonic relationship. Jerry agrees to go to a friend's birthday party of Elaine's in exchange for accompanying him to a wedding. During the birthday party for Pamela, Jerry gets wrapped up in a conversation with a beautiful woman that he's very attracted too. They hit it off briefly before Elaine cuts them off to tell Jerry about a weird dream about wooden teeth. Jerry is embarrassed by it all and Elainesenses it, causing her to be very annoyed. Jerry doesn't manage to get much information from the woman. Jerry's parents are in town, staying at his apartment for the wedding. He refuses to ask Elaine who she is and gets advice from his dad. He claims Jerry should stake out the lobby of her work place and pretend he "bumped" into her. With the help of George, Jerry and George manage to conjure up a grand scheme and successfully get not only her name (Vanessa) , but Jerry gets a date as well. Elaine manages to find out about it all and things get very uncomfortable

This is a little slow and green compared to the classics you would see as the seasons went along, but it's still a very memorable episode that I always enjoy. It has many things that are noteworthy. George's desire to be an architect commences, along with the "Art Vandelay" that he would use on a few occasions during this show when he lies about something. These shows were much more realistic, albeit less entertaining than how outrageous and outlandish the episodes would become in later seasons. That's not to say I don't enjoy them, because I really do. This is the first appearance of Jerry's parents, but it would be the last of Phillip Bruns as the Dad. Barney Martin took over shortly after this and rightfully so. Nothing against Phillip Bruns, but Barney Martin is Jerry's dad. Phillip did a good job though. This is NOT Elaine's first episodes. Male Unbonding was filmed before this, but The Stakeout aired before this. Male Unbonding is when Elaine first appeared. Uncle Mac would be replaced by Uncle Leo. Joe George is rather bland as Uncle Mac. This episode is very entertaining for a number of reasons. Many things about the "Ex" storyline that Jerry and Elaine have going on rang true. It's not very often you see exes remain friends with each other. It doesn't usually work out. Jerry worried about stalking Vanessa at her workplace was great as well. You know you wanna see this woman again, but don't wanna come across as a creeper. Jerry's actions were completely real and understandable. If you're new to this show, it's a good episode to watch for history behind Jerry and Elaine's friendship.

Additional notes.

Jerry's inner monologue is hilarious

Vanessa would appear once more in The Stock Tip, which is a shame. I liked her

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This episode feels closer to a "Seinfeld" episode than its predecessor
SLionsCricketreviews6 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"The Stakeout" mostly works in spite of some inherent issues that are largely absent when the show really hits its stride. It's still very early days for Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld and as such, and also given the less prestigious state of television at the time, they are excused. Unlike the pilot which lacked any clear sense of being a Seinfeld episode, this certainly bears some clear traces of what would become one of the great television series.

The issues with "The Stakeout" are some scenes of bogged down pacing and mildly lethargic dialogue, uncharacteristic of the typically witty and fast-whipped dialogue that define future Seinfeld, as well as the poor utilization of storytelling. George is not introduced in this episode up until the halfway mark at best and Kramer once again has next to nothing to do in this episode which is a little disappointing. While introducing Jerry's parents is a nice touch that helps the audience better understand his character during the early days, Seinfeld and David use Morty (played here by Philip Bruns and not Barney Martin) in the role that George would prove to be a far better fit as Jerry's conspirator and confidante and so it limits George's presence and impact in this episode. I find it a little unfortunate since George has the episode's biggest laughs and perhaps the only truly earned laughs up to this point in the show.

It is fantastic to see 'importer-exporter' and 'Art Vanderlely' make their entry into Seinfeld's vernacular this early into the show, both of which need no explanation to any long term fan of Seinfeld. To see these terms coined here and to see the writers employ continuity throughout the show is fantastic, for a show that largely ignores serialized storytelling (with the notable exceptions of seasons four and seven).

Seinfeld as a show also is not known for drama since Larry David had a famous "no hugs, no lessons learned" notice hanging in the staff offices in later seasons and while there are no hugs, there is something of a lesson learned between Jerry and Elaine, who makes her much needed entry into the show here. They're introduced as people who used to date and now engage in a friendship though Elaine is quick to spark signs of jealousy when Jerry shows interest in another girl. The episode certainly seems interested to ride the drama between the characters which is where I find the episode mostly suffers a little. By the end of the episode, they vow to a more productive and supportive friendship where they look beyond their history together. Once again, Seinfeld is beginning to establish itself more as the show it would become.

The best scene is the titular stakeout in the episode where Jerry and George stakeout the lobby of the law firm that the girl Jerry earlier shows an interest in works at. While they wait, they discuss their alibis of sorts which delightfully reminded me of the two parter from the seventh season, "The Cadillac", where Elaine and George must manufacture alibis for Susan. Nonetheless, the stakeout is truly funny and George immediately shows some of his more true character, such as the great little detail of his interest in architecture.

"The Stakeout" works in short. There are some notable issues I find, largely that some of the scenes lack that zip that makes Seinfeld so enjoyable to watch when it is at its best but that's to be expected here. There's also some poor utilization of the mechanism of storytelling and as I pointed out, this is most notable in just how long it takes for George to be introduced. There's also some actual laughs and a decent and Seinfeld-esque plot even if it does ultimately feel a little underwhelming. The attempts at drama hurt the episode and do not quite fit the show's now infamous descriptor as "the show about nothing" since it is about breakups and the complications that can arise from platonic relationships. Otherwise, this is a solid episode and a step up from its predecessor.
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more quotes from that episode
siimens725 September 2006
JERRY's monologue: There's something about a cheque that, to a man, is not masculine. I don't know exactly what it is... I think to a man, a cheque is like a note from your mother that says ''I don't have any money, but if you'll contact these people, I'm sure they'll stick up for me... If you just trust me this one time I don't have any money but I have these... I wrote on these; is this of any value at all?'' _______________________

JERRY: (To Vanessa) So, you're a lawyer... VANESSA: Sagman, Bennet, Robbins, Oppenheim and Taft. JERRY: (To himself, quickly) Sagman, Bennet, Robbins, Oppenheim and Taft. Sagman, Bennet, Robbins, Oppenheim and Taft...


JERRY: "Quone"? No, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to challenge that. HELEN: ...32... KRAMER: No, you don't have to challenge that. That's a word. That's a *definite* word. JERRY: I am challenging... KRAMER: Quone: to quone something.


ELAINE: Couldn't agree more. JERRY: Good. ELAINE: Good. JERRY: Good. ELAINE: Great! JERRY: Great? Where do you get "great"?
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Art Core-velay, Art Vandelay
jamariana12 July 2017
In this episode of "Seinfeld", Jerry meets a woman at a dinner party that Elaine brought him to. Jerry immediately likes her, but when he doesn't get his name, he resorts to staking out the lobby of her law firm because he doesn't want to ask Elaine for her number. Jerry's parents also come to visit - they give him advice on women, and Jerry plays scrabble with his mother. This is a funny enough episode. George pretends to be an architect. Really, it is the show about nothing, but it's absolutely brilliant when it comes to the writing.
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Excellent episode; sets the stage for the whole series, gives the audience something to think about
joeblowxxx2 July 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The "Scrabble" scene is one of my favorites of the whole series. Jerry is exasperated before the scene even begins, waiting on his mom (the proxy of the audience member) to make a move. She's stalling, noncommittal. "Quo. Is that a word?" She needs answers, and Jerry can't, or won't, comply. She grabs the dictionary, to Jerry's incredulity; he can't believe she breaks free of the form so easily. She can know what he cannot, and it infuriates him. The audience laughs, but Jerry can't hear us. Enter Kramer. This was the first episode Elaine appeared in, and just as she propped up the show by exposing Jerry's vulnerability, Kramer reveals his hand, giving Mom the information she needs to win. Because he alone can see Jerry's letters. And we think the scene is over. "Quoan??" Jerry challenges, and the play is overturned. No one beats Jerry. Elaine may have pulled back the curtain on his fear of loneliness. But somehow, the power dynamic between Jerry and the audience hasn't changed. Whatever you throw at him feeds his relatability. He's still in charge. He's the King.
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a small animal..
Arth_Joshi30 June 2019

Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the creators, of the dream sitcom for every stand up artist is the milestone set as an example on how to use your humor as a part of narrative. The series was clearly ahead of its time and fixated within that time limit when it was aired- or maybe not even then. This is how the series both remains timeless and also fails to test against time. The concept of the series- in fact there is an episode, where the series takes an almost meta turn, whispering the secretive meeting held within the confound of NBC walls about the pitch- is to just joke, just talk, analyse with a mockery tone, bombing brutally on a subject from the most privileged position under that circumstances. There is no storyline, no character development, no arc, no rhythm to follow. Usually, a film like such becomes more than a film with such an idea; take the Life Of Brian series. And similarly the series refuses to participate in the expected or not even expected aspects of the storytelling.

There is no end, no beginning, it captures a brief period with an agenda in mind that you will have the time of your life. But this is where this coherent plan backfires. First the runtime itself. Something so monotonous cannot withhold its audience for nine years. It is simply preposterous. For the style of the joke, the humor, the vocab of these characters, if as-planned is intended to be the same, will grow natural or normal to the viewers. This makes the relationship between the viewers and the characters, similar to what the viewers have in the outer world, maybe a friend or a family member.

Basically it would never be interesting, sure some cases would come up, just as chapters does in here, but that too will carry the momentum of just that brief period of screentime. Another major challenge it faces is, in order to stay far away from the textbook sitcom structure, the character has to and does deny on getting on or blending in with the society. Now that's fine. But in order to last longer they had to create an unfair world that takes uncalled detours just for the laughs, ignoring both emotional and ethical aspect of it, resulting into a physical distance that you, as an audience, carry for the rest of the series. By the end, it gets difficult to survive and something so beloved, something so smart, Seinfeld is left under a dry heap of jokes.

The Stake Out

If the previous one was the analysation of anticipation, this one is the aftermath of the event, floating about independently, Seinfeld isn't following any formula or structure, either the characters are used or not, the storytelling is kept above.
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