Review: ‘Seinfeld: The Complete Fourth Season’

The four-disc set's commentaries and minidocs give a healthy dose of theories on the significance of perhaps the best season of perhaps the best sitcom in history, or at least the season when the skein hit its stride.

The four-disc set’s commentaries and minidocs give a healthy dose of theories on the significance of perhaps the best season of perhaps the best sitcom in history, or at least the season when the skein hit its stride.

Earning the show’s only Emmy for best comedy, season four established “Seinfeld” as not only racy, as in “The Contest,” but, as scribe Larry Charles notes, uncharacteristically dark for a sitcom at the time, as in the film noir parody “The Trip.”

Seinfeld himself credits “The Junior Mint” with sparking skein’s trend of plots that stretch the bounds of reality (“A lot of crazy ideas started to make sense” this season, he says).

Skein also took the perilous plunge into the showbiz arena, as in the show-within-a-show that frames the season. It’s no coincidence that today’s most cutting-edge sitcom, “Arrested Development,” uses all of the above elements.

Fans will revel in juicy bits like origins of famous lines, a clip of Fran Drescher standing in for Estelle Harris (as George’s mom), and director Tom Cherones’ revelation that the flying junior mint was actually a York Peppermint Pattie.

Extras suffer a bit from redundant info, but perhaps that’s because — as Jerry implicitly acknowledges with his ultra-laid-back commentaries — when explaining why something is brilliant, sometimes there’s not much to say.

Seinfeld: The Complete Fourth Season

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $49.95
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