The Parking Garage
"The Parking Garage" is the 23rd episode of the situation comedy Seinfeld. The episode was the sixth episode of the show's third season. It aired on October 30, 1991 on National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
|"The Parking Garage"|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||Tom Cherones|
|Written by||Larry David|
|Original air date||October 30, 1991|
The episode was written by Larry David and was directed by Tom Cherones, and takes place entirely in a parking garage. The episode "The Parking Garage" has received overwhelmingly positive reviews with many critics calling it better than the previous episode "about nothing", "The Chinese Restaurant". It was ranked #33 on TV Guide's 1997 list of the 100 Greatest TV episodes of All Time. The episode received a 12.1/19 Nielsen rating.
The gang is in search of Kramer's car in the multi-level parking garage of a shopping mall in New Jersey after Kramer purchases an air conditioner. Unfortunately, no one can remember where the car was parked. After carrying the air conditioner for some time, an exhausted Kramer decides to leave it behind one of the parked cars and tries to memorize the number of the parking space. Elaine fears that her new goldfish will die in the airtight bag before they can arrive home, while George must meet his parents by 6:15 to take them out to celebrate their anniversary. Also, Jerry has to go to the bathroom badly.
While the gang searches for the car, Elaine desperately begs people in the parking garage to give them a ride around the building to find their car, but no one is willing to help or has any sympathy for the goldfish. One of the indifferent men that she begs is Larry Charles (wearing a Star Trek: The Next Generation hat), a staff writer on Seinfeld.
Jerry desperately needs to urinate. Kramer badgers Jerry to do it in some dark corner where no one can see him. After Jerry reluctantly does so, he is spotted by a security guard and is taken to the guard's office. Jerry tries to talk his way out of trouble by making up a story about a fictional disease of "uromysitisis", but the guard is not convinced; Jerry makes up some other stories, but the guard is still not buying it. Meanwhile, Kramer, Elaine and George wonder where Jerry is – George moans, "Unbelievable, I'm never gonna get out of here. The guy goes to pee, he never comes back. It's like a science fiction story." Elaine goes off on her own to find him; Kramer and George decide to do the same.
Later, George also gets caught in the act of urinating, after being convinced to do so by Kramer. Both Jerry and George are fined and released. After the two find Elaine, Jerry convinces George to ask an attractive woman, whom they saw earlier in the episode, to give them a lift around the garage. The woman (Cynthia Ettinger) accepts without hesitation, and the gang all enter the woman's car and drive off. Moments later, the woman kicks them out after George says something to the woman that makes her explode in anger (the viewer is not told exactly what George said to the woman, but it involves L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology). Ironically, the gang is dropped off right by Kramer's car but unfortunately, Kramer, who has the car keys, is still lost somewhere in the garage.
Hours pass by as George, Jerry and Elaine wait. Finally, Kramer shows up, having gone on his own hunt for the air conditioner because he forgot where he left it. Elaine's goldfish did not survive and George is well past the time deadline to meet his parents. Once they are all in the car, the engine fails to start.
The Parking Garage was written by Larry David, his fourth writing credit for the season and was directed by Tom Cherones, his fourth directing credit for the season. According to the official Seinfeld site, the episode was difficult to write and create because it was not filmed in an actual garage, but rather on the normal Seinfeld soundstage. The audience bleachers, Jerry's apartment and the restaurant set were removed from the soundstage. Shooting was done from different angles so the entire set was shown. The stage was surrounded by mirrors to make the parking garage appear larger. Louis-Dreyfus and Seinfeld had their makeup redone between takes while lying on the ground because the shoot was so demanding.
The end was scripted to have the gang drive off together, and the car failing to start at the end of the episode was an accident. Kramer actor Michael Richards continued to crank the car's ignition without success. It was decided that the car not starting as something else going wrong was a much funnier ending, and it was kept in the episode. Jason Alexander can briefly be seen starting to laugh when the car didn't start.
The episode follows the premise of the idea of Seinfeld as a "show about nothing". Holly Ordway of DVD Talk compared the episode to "The Chinese Restaurant" from the second season in which the whole episode takes place in a Chinese restaurant. Many other critics had a similar reaction to season two's "The Chinese Restaurant".
In its original American broadcast, "The Parking Garage" received a Nielsen rating of 12.1 rating/19% share—this means that 12.1% of American households watched the episode and 19% of televisions in use at the time were tuned to it.
The episode has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics with many saying it is better than "The Chinese Restaurant". Holly Ordway called the episode "another classic Seinfeld episode" and also stated "the characters spend the whole episode in the same place resulting in an episode that's both memorable and funny." She also said it was better than second season's "The Chinese Restaurant". Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide said "À la Season Two's "The Chinese Restaurant", this program uses one commonplace setting for its comedy, and I think it works even better than its famed predecessor".
Linda S. Ghent, Professor in the Department of Economics at Eastern Illinois University, discusses this episode in view of its economic themes, specifically those of common resources, thinking 'at the margin' and cost-benefit analysis. The common resource here is the garage itself: it is for the public, but it is not supposed to be used by the public as a bathroom. Jerry decides that the relief (benefit) of urinating will outweigh the risk (cost) of getting caught.
Matthew Bond, describing how "singleness and childlessness" were, at the time the series began, "unusual for a situation comedy", writes that
"the Peter Pans of this series view all other children as competition and those who have children - i.e., their peers who are parents - as fools. In 'The Parking Garage,' George intervenes when a mother hits her son; the mother tells him to mind his own business. When George asserts that it is his business, the son tells George that he's ugly."
Matthew Bond concludes, "In the Seinfeld world, others are unwelcome; parents are oppressive; friends married or with children are buffoons; children are monsters. Why should Jerry and Our Gang grow up?"
- "Full cast and crew for "Seinfeld" The Parking Garage (1991)". IMDb. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
- Larry David. "The Parking Garage". IMSDB. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- "The Parking Garage episode at Seinfeld Official Site". Sony Pictures. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- Ordway, Holly (November 23, 2004) http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/13457/seinfeld-season-3/ DVD Talk Retrieved 2010-06-25
- Deggans, Eric (April 26, 1998). "Behold! Mount Seinfeld ! – Monumental Nothingness". St. Petersburg Times. p. 1F.
- Jacobson, Colin (November 19, 2004) http://www.dvdmg.com/seinfelds3.shtml DVD Movie Guide Retrieved 2010-06-24
- Seinfeld Season 3: Notes about Nothing - "The Parking Garage" (DVD). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
- Ghent, Linda S. "Seinfeld Economics: The Parking Garage (Public urination)". Critical Commons. Retrieved August 11, 2012.
- Bond, Matthew (2006). "Do you think they're having babies just so people will visit them?". Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain: Revisiting Television's Greatest Sitcom. New York: Continuum. pp. 108–116. Retrieved August 12, 2012.