By Mary McNamara
6:37 PM PST, February 2, 2014
Did Peyton Manning have something to do with that "Seinfeld" commercial?
In the middle of a game in which the vaunted quarterback couldn't seem to make anything happen, the much-speculated upon "secret" "Seinfeld" Super Bowl project revealed itself to be both a mini-cast reunion and a commercial for Jerry Seinfeld's Web series "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."
Unfortunately, like the Broncos' quarterback, it had a hard time connecting. There they were, Jerry and George (Jason Alexander), sauntering into their coffee shop (Tom's Restaurant in real New York), engaged in a conversation interesting only in its banality — everyone's been invited to a Super Bowl party at the Wassersteins except them. Except it turns out Jerry has been invited; George was banned because of his poor party manners and use of the master bathroom.
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Then, just as George releases Jerry to join the party, Wayne Knight shows up, prompting the inevitable "Hello, Newman."
Which should have been hilarious and evocative, should have made us realize how much we miss the show that changed comedy and unleashed Larry David onto an unsuspecting public.
Except it wasn't and it didn't. There's a reason, apparently, the cast has been reluctant to commit to a reunion show: It might not be a good idea.
"Seinfeld" was, after all, the shared dream state of a lost generation, late twentysomethings stalled out making cutting remarks at the back of the class.
Now they, and we, are older. The new crop of twentysomethings do most of their talking on Snapchat; George and Jerry don't even carry cellphones.
On whom time has left its mark, as has success. Seinfeld looks like what he is: an enormously successful comedian who now spends his days "interviewing" other enormously successful comedians about how they became that way.
George just looked like George, with a bad dye job, which was just sad.
More important, the conversation about "nothing," even in its highly abbreviated form, felt empty and contrived; surely grown men wouldn't waste entire paragraphs deconstructing speech patterns (in this case the mumble) and defending indefensibly absurd behavior. Surely they have better things to do and a little less time to do it; they live in New York, for heaven's sake.
By contrast, Terry Crews' fast and furious interaction with some carjacking Muppets in an earlier Toyota commercial felt fresh and of our time (also, Crews took off his shirt, which is always a pleasure).
In a way, the "Seinfeld" commercial is more trenchant a symbol for Sunday night's big game than any of the "America the Beautiful" nationalist ads that marched across the screen, while the game between them grew less and less interesting. With the exception of the truly odd Quvenzhané Wallis Maserati ad (am I the only one who still wants to see the movie I thought Wallis was teasing?), this was one of the best produced Super Bowls in recent memory — Renée Fleming's flawless rendition of the national anthem, Bruno Mars' shiny bright halftime show, the fireworks, the Bob Dylan ads, everything went off without a hitch.
Everything except the two MVPs.
Manning couldn't get a break, and the "Seinfeld" reunion was, well, boring.
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