There’s a famous — and telling — scene in an episode of Seinfeld in which George and Jerry are sitting in the restaurant, talking about how Jerry Seinfeld should pitch to NBC the television show he wants to do.
George suggests himself, Elaine and even Kramer should be characters on the show. What’s the show about? “Absolutely nothing,” George responds.
“Everybody’s doing something,” George adds. “We’ll do nothing!”
“I think you may have something here,” Seinfeld replies, and for nine years that show about nothing was among the most popular on network television, and continues to be loved in syndication.
And now we are about to start a new season of yet another Jerry Seinfeld TV show about nothing. This time, the setting isn’t an apartment on the Upper West Side of New York City but a variety of classic cars, and, yes, there is still a restaurant, or a series of them where Seinfeld and his passenger of the week stop for coffee and conversation.
The show is Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and it is even less exciting than its title might indicate.
Actually, I like the premise: An acclaimed celebrity who also is a highly respected car collector (especially of Porsches) drives an amazing car to the home of another celebrity and they ride together to a restaurant where they drink coffee and talk before Seinfeld drives the celebrity home, and sometimes with a detour or two along the way.
But while I like the premise, I have found the execution lacking.
I know, that’s heresy for many of you, who love the program. But I watched at least half a dozen episodes from previous seasons and found the show to be pretty much about the same thing as the sit com — about nothing.
I watched Seinfeld and Jim Carey, and Jimmy Fallon, and Tina Fey, and I called Bob Golfen, a big fan of the show, and told him the cars were cool but the conversations were generally vapid. He said to watch the Michael Richards (Kramer) episode, so I did, and I liked it more. It wasn’t so precious, perhaps because it was two former co-workers and friends who weren’t trying to impress each other.
It wasn’t until the episode with Seth Meyers that I heard a couple of great lines. Seinfeld drove his Carrera 2.7 RS for the episode and explained that it was a “dead guy car.”
Dead guy car? Yes, he explained, saying he’d bought it from a dead guy and that it wouldn’t be for sale until Seinfeld also was dead.
My recollection is that a motorcycle races past and Meyers said he was intrigued, but added that while riding might make you look cool, motorcycles were cigarettes of vehicles, accept the temptation knowing it can kill you.
The only episode that I really enjoyed was the one with President Obama, who was restricted from leaving the White House grounds but who seemed to enjoy getting to drive, albeit a lap around the driveway in a split-window 1963 Chevrolet Corvette. The then-president also had a flair for comedy and not only answered Seinfeld’s questions, but had some probing ones of his own to ask the comedian.
I know I may be alone in my unappreciative viewing of a car show about nothing. The new season launches Friday on Netflix and I’m willing to give the show another look, especially since the list of guests in the passenger’s seat not only includes the likes of Dana Carvey, Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan, Alec Bladwin, Zach Galifinakis and Ellen DeGeneres, but the late Jerry Lewis.
Here’s a preview: