Originally airing as an hour-long, two-part episode to kick-off season three, “The Trip” looks to capitalize off second-season momentum by picking up where the series left off.
Kramer is in L.A. as an inspiring actor, while Jerry and George are looking to repent for disobliging their apartment keys to their friend. What follows when Jerry and George fly out west to retrieve their disenfranchised friend, however, leaves steadfast Seinfeld fans wondering how the “sitcom about nothing” becomes a dragnet look-alike.
Seinfeld fans are hard-pressed to declare any episode outside of season one as “bad,” however, few will disagree that episodes such as “The Trip” are a far, far cry from classics found in later seasons. Nevertheless, this early episode in particular still seems to be strangely sidetracked from what viewers had come to expect from a Seinfeld.
Instead of Seinfeld-esque conversations at Monk’s and the subtly unique personality of everyday life experienced at the apartment, the gang is in Southern California looking for their buddy Kramer, who we find out at the end of the episode has been accused as being the “Smog Strangler.” Cops are investigating crime scenes. Jerry and George are walking around the scenes of La-La land. Even scenes at the airport and in the hotel are docile compared to similar scenes of their kind.
Other scenes can be described as, well, awkward. Kramer’s meeting with Fred Savage has the potential to be a landmine of laughter, but instead Kramer comes across as, frankly, overly clumsy and unbelievable. Kramer’s neighbor down the hall, an old woman who claims to be in a 1934 Three Stooges flick where the stooges are executed at the end, is plain spooky.
True, Kramer’s individualism is unlike any character seen in a sitcom, yet, this instance he is not at his finest. It took several seasons for Kramer to truly define the quirks that are most memorable in his character. Now that the series is in syndication, elder episodes of him are simply more entertaining.
Let us not just think that the show is entirely about, and the episodes enjoyment solely dependent on, Kramer. Jerry, of course, is the lead role, and George, as it pans out, remains the most consistent character played from season one till nine (Elaine is absent from this episode – she was in the later stages of pregnancy during shooting).
Both Jerry and George are solid, but not spectacular. They are victim of circumstance in this episode. One can only be so funny in the back of a cop car before it becomes cliché. Being treated like dirt in a city as a visitor from another part of the country can only take the episode so far. Though some subtle quirks remain, a great part of the distinctive comedy that put this series on the map is, for the most part, abandoned. The episode is an interesting contrast to discover when compared old Seinfeld to new. But if this is one of the first episodes one has seen, be assured that there is much better to come.