Oy vey. Where to begin?
The fourth season of Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee” officially came to a close on Thursday, July 17, but I only caught up with it … let’s say, “about a week ago.” The episode featured Jon Stewart and two different cars: The 1968 AMC Gremlin and the 1978 AMC AMX. They went to the Tick Tock Diner. Stewart wore a baseball cap. Some people laughed. Others wondered why he or she couldn’t get the final 30 seconds of the episode to play on his or her Roku.
In any event, the five episodes that made up season four were … wait for it … better than the six (or seven, depending on if you count the Super Bowl) episodes we found throughout season three. But that’s a tricky statement to make, if only because the expectations going into that third run shot through the roof, while any hopes for the latest set were both quelled and managed with a strong sense of skepticism.
Or, in other words, season three wasn’t as good as I had hoped; season four was better than I predicted.
The only real dud in the bunch was the season premiere with Sarah Jessica Parker (though if this thing is to be believed, maybe I’m the only one who had little patience for that particular episode). I mean, the thing is called “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.” Not, “Let’s Pick Up My Old Friend And Ride Around In A Trunk.” The entire exercise felt weirdly out of place, and I still can’t figure out why. Maybe it was my natural disposition toward Parker and her acting abilities. Maybe it was the, “Wait – are they flirting with each other?” vibe that carried the episode throughout. Or maybe …
… Well, maybe Seinfeld should just stick to comedians. The show, for all its good times and bad times, thrives the most when he switches the Old Hollywood/Old Vegas button to its on position. Without question, the best this latest season got was when he sat down with George Wallace (who, it should be noted, was Jerry’s best man in his wedding) and Robert Klein, who Seinfeld repeatedly implies was a hero to the young comedian as he was working his way through the ranks.
Much like his interviews with Don Rickles and Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks in past seasons, these moments have an earned comfortability, and maybe even more impressively, an immediate credibility. It doesn’t matter when Rickles tells a joke that might not land well, because … well, BECAUSE IT’S DON RICKLES! But when Jon Stewart tries to be funny and the smile isn’t there, however, the moment is just a little harder to swallow (full disclosure: I have never watched a second of either “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report.” I understand how much America has fallen in lust with both, but for me? Bah. Just give me another episode of “Moone Boy”). I mean, you want to laugh when the TV host makes a quip, and you want to think he’s saying something brilliantly funny, but the reality is that there’s a deep burn somewhere within you that’s convinced he can do better than whatever it was he just said.
Which brings me to this: As I mentioned at the top of this post, I have now come to accept that any problems I may have had with the series in the past have fallen directly on my head and my own silly, idiotic and unfair expectations. When I first saw the lineup for this most recent season, I shrugged and thought, in fact, that the Stewart episode might be the most worthy of them all. Klein and Wallace were crap-shoots. Parker was going to be a non-starter, no matter what. And Aziz Ansari?
But I was wrong. Even Ansari, who I have never bought into as a stand-up (or, for that matter, as an actor), was good. Even better was his levity and not-douche-y-ness. He even had a few lines that made me laugh. Add that into the very special treat of seeing Jerry drive around a tour bus and eventually hop into some type of 18-wheeler at a truck stop, and what you had was a surprisingly solid and unexpectedly charming episode.
Yet perhaps the most intriguing information about this series comes not in the form of this latest run; rather, it comes in the form of a few stories written about it in the past two or three months (see what happens when you devote so much time to “Orange Is The New Black?!?” You lose sight of other stuff!). Let’s go all the way back to the last day of April this year and a piece that ran on Deadline …
“‘Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee’ has been renewed for 24 more episodes that will take the web series through Season 9, Sony-owned video site Crackle said today,” The Deadline Team (their words, not mine) wrote. “The series announced at the end of January that it had eclipsed 25 million streams, and now the total is more than 40 million, making it by far the video hub’s No. 1 original series since its July 2012 debut.”
You hear that, Netflix? Crackle ain’t scared to share its numbers with the world. When are you going to man up?
Actually, the reveal of said numbers, to me, is impressive. Call me naive (because I am), but as I’ve watched each of these four seasons, I’ve been submerged under the notion that I am the only single person ever in the history of the universe and/or the world who is actually paying any type of attention to these 15-to-20-minute episodes.
But 40 million is pretty good. And earning an extension FOR FIVE MORE SEASONS (notice the capital letters) is practically unheard of. OK. Maybe not “practically.” It is, indeed, unheard of. Better yet is the discussion of a certain name that might pop up once season five kicks off this fall. Let’s turn back to USA Today‘s Whitney Matheson and her Q&A with the series creator:
“I know Woody Allen just did a podcast. I’m hoping that means there’s an increased likelihood he could be on your show,” she said.
“Yeah, that’s a possibility,” Seinfeld responded.
Now, that would be interesting.
Not nearly as interesting? The advent of the “Single Shot.” And what’s the “Single Shot?” Sam Gutelle, of Tubefilter, you’re up …
“It has debuted ‘Single Shots,’ a series of two-minute supercuts where ‘Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee’ guests discuss specific subjects,” he wrote on July 24. “‘Single Shots’ draws its material from previously-filmed episodes of ‘Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,’ and each episode centers on a particular theme by featuring footage from multiple guests. For instance, the first episode is titled ‘Donuts,’ and it includes three different donut-related conversations from Seinfeld’s web series: One with Tina Fey, a second with Brian Regan, and a third with Sarah Silverman.”
I’ve watched only that first one because I was unaware that this would become a regular thing. From that first “shot” (see what I did there?!), I can confidently say this: You can go through your life without clicking on any of those videos and still rest assured that you didn’t miss out on something you absolutely needed to see. I mean, come on: If a regular episode runs a quarter of an hour, what do you think a super-cut of people talking about donuts is going to reveal? The thing barely touches two minutes.
Still, it’s encouraging. Encouraging because it shows how committed Crackle and Sony are to the series, and encouraging because it means that even two years after it debuted, Seinfeld is still thinking about different ways to spice things up. This is not a tiny, forgotten stepchild for either creator or distributor. With two Emmy nominations now under its belt, these guys are taking the Internet platform seriously and despite varying opinions one may have on the quality of specific aspects and/or episodes of the series as a whole (hey, there!), everyone involved should be both lauded and admired for their work taking nothing and making it into much, much more than a mere something.
So, get ready, friends: The fifth season will take to the World Wide Internet in only a couple months and this time around, we’ll have seven episodes to chew on (along with our cronuts, of course). Will we finally get that Julia Louis-Dreyfus ride we’ve all been obsessing over since the series began? How about a Dave Chappelle journey that ends at some farm in Ohio, Jerry driving a tractor through acres and acres of tree-less land?
We’ll find out soon enough. Though no matter what, this latest fourth season proved to this moronic, far-too-cynical blogger at least one thing: I’ll be watching. Through all the good. And, most definitely now, through all the bad.