Thursday, September 5, 2013

Episode 31 - The Pez Dispenser

The Plot:  Another episode with several unrelated plotlines that tries to tie everything together at the end.  Feels a little forced this time. 

It begins with George astounded that he is dating a classical pianist, Noel.  He can’t believe his good fortune to have met a woman as attractive and talented.  He is thrilled with dating her, but a little frightened as well.  Since she is so far out of his league, she has the upper hand in the relationship.  In fact, not only does George not have the upper hand, he “has no hand at all.”  He invites Jerry and Elaine to one of her piano recitals, believing that if Noel sees him with his friends, he will look more popular and somehow at least become equal to her.

On his way out the door to the concert, Jerry shows Kramer a Tweety Bird Pez dispenser he got at a flea market and brings it with him to the showIn the middle of the concert, Jerry puts the Pez dispenser on Elaine's leg and she begins to burst out laughing. Noel keeps on playing and many people shush Elaine, but she can't stop laughing and is forced to step outside.

While out in the lobby, Elaine runs into an old friend who tells her that another old high school friend, Richie, is now a comedian but is "kinda messed up" on drugs and will not listen to anyone to stop.  The only person he will listen to is Jerry, whom he admires. They concoct a plan to have an intervention at Jerry's house with a whole bunch of old school friends there as well.

When Elaine goes backstage to meet up with Jerry and George after the recital, Noel is humiliated.  She can’t believe someone was laughing at her playing.  While unaware that it was Elaine, she vows that she will never forget the sound of that laugh.

As George realizes that his plan to gain some hand has backfired, Kramer inspires him to break up with Noel, and when she begs him to take her back, he will have the upper hand.  Initially Kramer’s plan works to perfection.  The two meet at Monk's and Noel actually says she'll do anything to get back together with him

Meanwhile, Kramer joins the Polar Bears, a group of swimmers who swim in the winter.  Inspired by the brisk dips in the ocean, Kramer comes up with an idea for a cologne that smells like you just came from the beach.  He pitches the idea to an exec at Calvin Klein who tells him he’s crazy and throws him out of the office.

The final scene occurs in Jerry’s apartment where the intervention is getting startedKramer attends and  brings his Polar Bear friends and then George and Noel come unexpectedly. At the intervention, Noel realizes that Elaine is the one who laughed at her recital. As a result, Noel dumps George.

When Richie comes, he simply asks "What's going on?" and the screen fades to black. In the end credits, Jerry tells George that Richie now is doing great in rehab, but is now addicted to Pez   

Fun Facts:
  • This was the first reference to “The Beach”, Kramer’s ocean inspired cologne.
  • Noel’s recital is at the McBierney School, a reference to the McBurney School in Manhattan that counts Henry Winkler and Ted Koopel among its famous alumni.
  • The friend that tells Elaine about Richie’s drug problem is John Mollica.  He was named after a filmmaker friend of Larry David.

Favorite Quote:   Kramer at Calvin Klein:

Kramer: Go ahead smell, smell
Steve: Yeah, so?
Kramer: Do you recognize it? ... The beach.
Steve: What are you talking about?
Kramer: Oh, I'm talking about the beach.
Steve: What about it?
Kramer: You know the way you smell when you first come home from the beach?  Well, I want to make a cologne that captures the essence of that smell.  Oh yeah.
Steve: That is the dumbest idea I have ever heard.
Kramer: Oh, wait, Did you hear what I just said?
Steve: Do you think people are going to pay $80 a bottle to smell like dead fish and sea weed? That's why people take showers when the come home from the beach. It's an objectionable offensive odor.
Kramer: So you don't think it's a good idea?

Favorite Scene:   After hearing Elaine’s laugh at the intervention, Noel knows it was her and she now breaks up with George: 

Noel: You lied to me George, you lied to me.
George: No, I, uh, um, wa, wa, What did I do? ... Where are you going?
Noel: I ... am breaking up ... with you!
George: You can't break up with me. I've got hand.
Noel: And you're going to need it.

The Lesson:  The lesson from this episode is all about hand.  While George’s concern that he has no hand is quite juvenile in his personal relationship, a little hand is extremely important for entrepreneurs.  Startups face extreme pressure from countless directions.  Your early investors are trying to squeeze you on valuation and their equity for their investment.  Your early customers are squeezing you trying to get guarantees that you can deliver on the product/service that they are paying for.  Your early vendors are trying to squeeze you on a guaranty that they will get paid for the work they are performing.  All of these take a little chunk out of the company.  If you do not have some sort of leverage, (a highly scalable company that can produce significant returns in a relatively short period of time; a cash rich bank account that can support your personal guaranties; tremendous good will) you will end up giving away much more of your company or profit margin than necessary.  In the early stages of your company, it is important to use whatever assets/advantages you have to gain as much hand as possible.

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