Shales Loves Seinfeld

From TNR:

    For many years now, Tom Shales, the Washington Post’s Pulitzer-winning TV critic, has displayed the kind of obsession with “Seinfeld” that Robert De Niro reserved for a teenaged Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. Each new comedy that’s launched, it seems, provides Shales with an opportunity for another unflattering comparison with his late, lamented love. As he put it earlier this year, “Every time a new sitcom is announced, some of us, giddy with optimism, wonder, ‘Will this be the new “Seinfeld”?'” …

    Indeed, it often seems Shales would prefer to be left to his happy memories than to engage with anything that’s actually on the air. Since “Seinfeld” was cancelled in 1998, Shales has cited it in a remarkable 79 articles. (Compare that to a mere 18 mentions of “The Simpsons,” which has actually been running, albeit at quarter-steam, all those years.) Shales has described “Seinfeld” as “the most successful and acclaimed sitcom ever”; “one of the most popular and highly praised sitcoms ever “; “It may have constituted a ‘great era’ all by itself”; “the last great sitcom of the age of the sitcom”; and “the last really funny TV show”–a tidal wave of praise that would be less overwhelming if not for the fact that all these quotes appeared in the last 14 months, many years after the show went defunct.

    Nor is Shales’s admiration limited to the show itself. In a review of Jerry Seinfeld’s sold-out comedy concert at the Kennedy Center in 2005, he allowed that “this visit consisted of the same material…that he delivered during his last Kennedy Center gig a year ago.” But he nonetheless found Seinfeld to be “unmistakably the master of his domain”; “a comedy giant unspoiled by nearly unimaginable, arguably insufferable success”; “The Maestro”; and “a philosopher-comic with the defiance of Hemingway, the wit of Wilde, the eloquence of Malraux and the memory of Proust.”

    The memory of Proust? At least now I know where to turn the next time I can’t find my car keys.