'Seinfeld' sign-off Jerry calls it quits: Thursday night gang will cease production of top-rated TV comedy.

December 29, 1997

WATCH THEM while you can. After nine seasons in which they established themselves as cultural signposts for the 1990s, Jerry, Elaine, George, Newman -- and, yes, even Kramer -- are heading into Hollywood's sunset.

"Seinfeld," this decade's equivalent of "The Cosby Show" in the '80s and "All in the Family" in the '70s -- some even compare it to "I Love Lucy" -- will cease production after the last episodes are shot in May.

This neurotic, self-absorbed gang that turned a Hollywood backlot into a New York comedian's living room and lifestyle reigns as king of TV comedies. The show convincingly proved that a stand-up comic, supported by a first-rate group of actors, can transfer night-club humor to weekly 30-minute sit-coms.

They leave behind enough shows for decades of re-runs. (One estimate puts the "Seinfeld" syndication value at $1 billion.) Everyone has a different favorite, be it the "Soup Nazi," or the "Yada, Yada, Yada" episode, or the lost-car-at-the-mall script. While this season's episodes frequently lost that elusive edge of comedic insight, Jerry Seinfeld has continued to keep his program on the creative frontier, even presenting one episode backward -- starting with the last scene and concluding with the first scene. It was never dull.

We will miss George's screaming, bickering parents; Elaine's bizarre adventures working at J. Peterman's; Jerry's all-purpose cover-up -- "Not that there's anything wrong with that," and Kramer's skidding entrance into Jerry's apartment, with a manic look on his face and another scheme up his sleeve.

Just as "M*A*S*H" and "Cheers" left gaping voids that were soon filled by shows such as "Seinfeld," so it will happen again. A new king or queen of comedy will emerge on our television screens over the next few seasons, a show that could become a cultural icon for the first decade of the 21st century.

Pub Date: 12/29/97

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