by K.M. Zahrt
It’s no surprise that the video streaming site, Crackle, renewed Jerry Seinfeld’s Primetime Emmy Award-nominated web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. The fourth season will begin on June 19, 2014, with the fifth season to follow this fall. Now is a great time to catch up.
Chances are good you’ve already seen at least one episode because, earlier this year, the web series topped 25 million streams. If not, chances are good you at least heard of the series, if you have any sort of Internet connection. Then why am I writing about it? Because I like it, and I want to share it with you. Well, that’s exactly what it feels like Jerry is doing with this series. He likes talking to comedians. He likes cars. He likes getting coffee. Here it is, like it or not.
If you, like millions of viewers, watched the NBC hit show Seinfeld religiously in the 90’s, you probably picked up on this idea: Jerry would like nothing more than to go from meal to meal, coffee shop to coffee shop, to meet with friends, to drink coffee, and to laugh. That’s the late twentieth century/early twenty-first century American dream, isn’t it? And, if you count yourself among Seinfeld fans or fans of comedy, at some point you’ve thought something like, “Wouldn’t it be great to hang out with comedian [fill in name here] for an afternoon? I bet they’re a hoot!”
With Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry gets to do his thing, and we get to ride along and fulfill the dream for all of us non-celebrity non-comedian fans. As a result, it’s a brilliant series.
The first episode features Larry David, which makes sense. The idea for Seinfeld famously
originated with Jerry and Larry discussing show concepts at a coffee shop. Who wouldn’t have wanted to be at that table?
However, the most memorable episode of season one is with comedy legend Carl Reiner, who mentions in passing that fellow comedy legend Mel Brooks visits him almost every night to eat dinner and watch Jeopardy! and a movie. Really? As Jerry investigates that evening, one thing that becomes clear is that no matter how successful you are in any career, even show business, TV trays and week-night game shows are in your future.
The first season ends with a heart-felt visit to an old friend, Michael Richards. It’s been several years since we’ve seen him after he fell out of comedy due to a racist rant aimed at a heckler during one of his stand-up shows in 2006. The incident was the first of its kind in that it was caught on video, went viral, and ruined his career–a precursor in many ways to this year’s incident with L.A. Clippers owner (for now) Donald Sterling. Richards demonstrates he still has his comedy chops, and it’s inspiring to watch as Jerry encourages him to seek redemption by making people laugh again.
There are some episodes that don’t seem to work. In an episode in season one, guest Bob Einstein is preoccupied with the show format, being “on,” and making jokes Jerry can “use.” The show works better if Jerry and the guest simply allow viewers to be a fly on the wall. The Alec Baldwin episode doesn’t seem to work either. The star power is off. Instead of two comedians, it’s a comedian and a movie star, and the table is imbalanced.
Episodes from seasons two and three include visiting a hardware store with David Letterman, getting pulled over by a police officer with Chris Rock, and taking a boat ride with Louis C.K. Also in season two, as the popularity of the series rises, so do the product placements from sponsor Acura, but Jerry approaches it in a self-referential way which makes it more funny than annoying. In one episode, Jerry points at an Acura parked on the side of the road and says, “It’s product placement.” In another episode, he circles the block because he can’t find the product placement vehicle. Classic Seinfeld.
But this post wouldn’t be complete without taking a brief look at the cars. Here are few of my favorites:
- 1952 Volkswagen Beetle with Larry David
- 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 with Ricky Gervais (which Gervais is scared to death to ride in, by the way)
- 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS with Seth Meyers
- 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S with Chris Rock
- 1959 Fiat 600 Jolly with Louis C.K.
- 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 with Patton Oswalt
So, when you take your coffee breaks over the next week, tune in to Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and get ready for the new season. Tell your boss it inspires your creativity and improves your productivity for the rest of the day. Cheers!