10. ‘The Wig Master’ (Season 7, episode 129)


This friend of Susan’s is staying with us for two weeks… Now am I wrong or is that excessive?
Well Bob Sacamano he stayed with me once for a year and a half.

‘The Wig Master’ was, at one time and for a very long time, my all time favorite Seinfeld episode. It’s a point I thought important to make as we enter the Top 10; we’re in pretty rarefied air in terms of quality with nine episodes now placing over it. But then again, we’ve probably been there for some time now…

‘The Wig Master’ is an exemplary example of the wonderful precision Seinfeld so often operated on. It’s a bit different however in how tightly connected everything is at every turn, unlike most Seinfelds that careen in wildly different tangents only to somehow collide at the close. One can think of an episode we just discussed like, say ‘The Marine Biologist’ for a more consistent Seinfeld approach to this plot construction. That episode ties up neatly in the final scene with George telling the story of a whale he’s saved who had become beached due to Kramer’s hitting of golf balls into the ocean (one has humorously found its way into blocking the whale’s blowhole), all the while being in the predicament because he’s had to go with a lie that Jerry started (telling a woman that George is employed as a marine biologist). It’s a remarkably funny story, and presents itself as the punchline to the entire episode; when George produces the golf ball in his hand we laugh because we’ve somehow come all the way around to everything being tied together after existing for the entire running time working in eccentrically separate worlds. That is the modus operandi for most Seinfeld episodes that work in this manner. ‘The Wig Master’ alters this sensibility by offering its various plots as happening very closely related to one another. For this reason it feels incredibly precise, and a very fresh take on the working Seinfeld template.

It also means that we’ll get virtually every scene with two characters existing together, and when they are isolated it’s still within a story arc involving another (again, this is somewhat of a rarity for an episode that is working towards a neatly tied up conclusion. Look again to ‘The Marine Biologist’, Kramer is hitting golf balls as an individual exercise, Elaine is in the alien world—for this episodes concerns—of working with the eccentric Russian writer Yuri Testikov, etc.). For example, Jerry concerns himself with reluctantly buying a Joseph Abboud navy crested blazer that he only buys after Elaine’s involvement is included (‘The Marine Biologist’ does this comparatively much later when Jerry’s plot of helping a women [played wonderfully by Carol Kane] who has been struck in the head by a hand held organizer through from a limo by the very author Elaine is working with), while George and Kramer are constantly seeing their plots intertwine as they’ve both entered the hilarious scam that is Jiffy Park (for addition clarification for those that haven’t seen it; Jiffy Park is a shoddily run parking lot that lures George and Kramer to park their cars their on the wonderful deal that is $75 dollars a month. In Manhattan that’s a steal for parking, but then it turns out to be actual theft, when the boys learn their cars are being loaned out at as makeshift whore houses).

Over all this insanity is seemingly the point of the entire episode: for Kramer to piece by piece ensemble an entire outfit (complete with Pink Mary Kay Cadillac El Dorado) so that’ll he’ll eventually resemble a pimp at the episodes hilarious conclusion that sees him get mistakably arrested for accosting a prostitute (Larry David can be heard yelling at the police station, “I said turn, Pimp!” as Kramer is having his mug shot taken). Just typing that sentence begins to warrant a chuckle from me which is more than telling about the sublimely insane nature of the entire thing. When one considers how tightly compacted the episode is (I haven’t even addressed a scene about three quarters through that sees the gang—minus George but plus the actual Wig Master—sipping champagne coolies in an outside sidewalk cafe), and how legitimately everything means something to something happening elsewhere you see that ‘The Wig Master’ is not only a classic Seinfeld episode but perhaps the intricate episode in a series often displaying the time stacking precision of the finest Swiss watch makers.

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