THE CHRONICLES OF
Episode #5: “The Stock Tip”
Jerry and George are having lunch at Monk’s, inanely debating over whether ”super-humor” is among Superman’s abilities, when Elaine shows up, distraught over the matter of a rogue grape as well as Robert, her boyfriend-of-the-week, to whose cats she is allergic. Jerry, meanwhile, has been pondering taking his own girlfriend-of-the-week, Vanessa (from “The Stake Out”), on a romantic weekend trip. George, however, doesn’t think it’s a great idea this early in Jerry and Vanessa’s relationship.
So once all of that exposition is out of the way, George mentions a lucrative-sounding stock he’s been wanting to invest in, but he wants Jerry to go in on it with him. Reluctantly, Jerry agrees, but quickly regrets doing so and throughout the rest of the episode continues to compulsively check the stock. Much to his misfortune, the stock progressively plummets, and to his further dismay, Kramer seems inexplicably pleased by this.
Jerry’s other exploits prove disastrous as well. After an attempt to obtain a refund for his shrunken shirt yields only an empty admission of guilt from the dry cleaner, he decides to cut his losses and sell his shares in the falling stock. Just hours into their weekend getaway, he and Vanessa quickly exhaust their conversational resources; and with another day and a half looming ahead, things don’t look very promising.
…And to add insult to injury, the stock, which Jerry has already sold, has now RISEN by a whopping six points.
The first season of Seinfeld ends with George, having made a killing on the wildly-fluctuating investment, treating Jerry and Elaine to dinner at Monk’s (which puts him in the Generous-but-with-Limits category), and boasting about his final earnings with transparent modesty. Elaine’s cat-loving boyfriend Robert has ended his relationship with her in favor of his felines, and Jerry’s two-episode relationship with Vanessa has ended on the grounds of irreconcilable perfume-related differences. Kramer, meanwhile, is probably busy ogling some naked chick in the building across the street.
This was the last Seinfeld episode to be produced until the beginning of 1991. It was the respectable ratings it had earned durings its first “season” which earned Seinfeld a proper second season — well, half a season, but still better than four episodes. It’s safe to say that had this been the final episode of the series, “The Stock Tip” probably wouldn’t have commanded quite the same ratings that the eventual series finale did in 1998.
The show is known for making numerous references to Superman, the real Jerry’s favorite comic book superhero since childhood. While the claims of there being a Superman reference in every episode are somewhat dubious, the show certainly had a generous share throughout its nine-year run, some more obvious than others. Jerry and George’s “super-humor” debate is the series’s first overt mention of the superpowered Kryptonian.
Co-creator Larry David wanted to make a conscious effort to give the series some level of continuity between episodes, having observed an almost universal absence of this in other sitcoms of the time. Since the script for “The Stock Tip” called for Jerry to have a girlfriend in the episode, Larry decided to simply have Vanessa, whom Jerry had successfully courted just a couple of episodes before, be said girlfriend for this episode. While most Seinfeld episodes are self-contained stories, many episodes have some degree of continuity between them, even if previous events were only mentioned in passing (for example, Jerry’s line “I don’t WANNA be a cowboy!” in “The Mom and Pop Store” is an homage to his similar whining protest in the previous season’s “The Puffy Shirt”).
And speaking of returning girlfriends, Vanessa is the first of only three women in the series whose relationship with Jerry spans more than one episode. He doesn’t meet the other two until much later in the series.
Superman References: 2 (Cumulative Total: 2)
Kramer Entrances: 2 (Cumulative Total: 7.5)
Kramer Mooches from Jerry: His apartment
Rubs it takes for a spoon adhere to Elaine’s nose: 23
George’s Net Stock Earnings, in Hyundais: 1
While neither the strongest nor the second-strongest show of the first season, “The Stock Tip” proves that the show has come a long way, even after only five episodes. With this first season, the show’s main issue is that it didn’t equally utilize all four of its main characters. In particular, Kramer is only ever shown in Jerry’s apartment, and in fact, his first scene outside of the apartment building isn’t until Season 2′s “The Busboy.” Jerry and Larry are the first to admit that they went into Seinfeld with little to no writing experience, but they were always very good about recognizing weaknesses and addressing them as needed.
See you next season! Well, next week.