Thursday, July 25, 2013

Episode 21 - The Dog

The Plot:  After extolling the greatness of so many episodes, you can almost hear the squealing of the brakes on this very pedestrian effort from the show.

In The Dog, Jerry is on a plane returning to New York when a drunk man seated next to him (Gavin Polone) falls sick and asks Jerry to take care of his dog while he is taken to the hospital. He promises to call Jerry and reclaim the dog as soon as he is released from the hospital. The dog, Farfel, irritates Jerry with its barking and making messes, and Jerry feels as though he does not dare leave his apartment, for fear of what Farfel might do. He resents the animal: "I like dogs. I'm not sure this is a dog."

Jerry, George and Elaine had a date to see the movie Prognosis Negative, but Jerry asks them to go without him.  George and Elaine realize they don't have much in common without Jerry around; they begin to have a good conversation only when they start making fun of Jerry.

Kramer attempts to break up with his girlfriend, Ellen, in a melodramatic fashion—and later attempts to get back together in the same fashion. Kramer gets genuinely angry at Jerry and Elaine because, first, they encouraged the break-up, and then they awkwardly applauded when Kramer fixed it up.

Jerry’s frustration with the dog grows so great, he is about to take Farfel to the pound, when Elaine steps in and offers to watch him.  The next scene shows Elaine wrestling to get back a sweater that the dog has chewed.  Gavin finally calls while Elaine is watching Farfel. Gavin reveals that he was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy, the reason he could not call earlier, and comes for the dog.

Gavin, a true dog-lover, promises Jerry, "Pre-prediction. You'll be calling me to ask if you can come and visit him before the month is out." Jerry replies, "Prediction. I never see you or him again for the rest of my life."

Fun Facts:

  • The movie they are going to see, Prognosis Negative, was actually a screen play written by Larry David about a patient who misinterprets a biopsy being negative as bad news.  This story line returns in a future episode in which George misinterprets the prognosis from a doctor.
  • Farfel was named after a TV dog that used to appear in ads for Nestle Quik chocolate milk.  Once again with the chocolate milk.
  • Gavin was named after Larry David’s agent, Gavin Polone.

Favorite Quote:   

Jerry:  "On my block, a lot of people walk their dogs, and I always see them walking along with their little poop bags, which to me is just the lowest function of human life. If aliens are watching this through telescopes, they're going to think the dogs are the leaders. If you see two life-forms, one of them's making a poop, the other one's carrying it for him, who would you assume was in charge?"

Favorite Scene:   Again, not too many memorable scenes in this relatively ordinary episode, but you do get a great sense for the disdain the characters have for most of the people around them when Kramer announces that he is breaking up with his girlfriend.

Kramer:  I can't, I gotta get this Ellen out of my life.
Jerry:  You're breaking up?
Kramer:  Oh ho ho ho yeah, the sooner the better. I can't wait to do it. You know how there's some people you worry about whether you're going to hurt their feelings? With her, I'm looking forward to it. I'd like to get it on video, watch it in slow motion and freeze frame it. Oh ho, yeah.
Elaine:  Kramer, I don't know how you lasted as long as you did.
Kramer:  Woah, you didn't like her?
Elaine:  If you could see her personality it would be like one of the Elephant Man exhibits, you know where they pull off the sheet and everyone gasps.

The Lesson:  So my first real stumbling block.  There really isn’t a dramatic scene or storyline with a key lesson for entrepreneurs.  I may be reaching a little bit here, but the one ideas that jumps out to me is to be careful how you speak about others to your business associates.  In The Dog, Elaine & Jerry bad mouth Kramer’s girlfriend in anticipation of his breakup with her.  At one point Jerry wonders aloud why no one has “killed her”.  Pretty strong language, that comes back to bite them (pun intended) when Kramer and Ellen rekindle their romance.  This leaves Jerry , Elaine and Kramer is an awkward situation for the remainder of the episode.

Oftentimes entrepreneurs will be tempted to speak ill about others, be it competitors, vendors that didn’t perform, former employees or others they do business with.  And it is amazing how often the people that they badmouthed will reappear in the course of their business life cycle.  Today’s sworn enemy can become tomorrow’s necessary ally in the blink of an eye.  It is never a good idea to let your emotions get the better of you and disparage others needlessly.  In the startup world it is rare that others end up like Farfel, never to be seen or heard from again.

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