|"The Parking Garage"|
|Episode no.||Season 3|
|Directed by||Tom Cherones|
|Written by||Larry David|
|Original air date||October 30, 1991|
"The Parking Garage" is the 23rd episode of the situation comedy Seinfeld. The episode was the sixth episode of the show's third season. It aired on October 30, 1991 on National Broadcasting Company (NBC).
The episode was written by Larry David and was directed by Tom Cherones, and takes place entirely in a parking garage. The episode "The Parking Garage" has received overwhelmingly positive reviews with many critics calling it better than the previous episode "about nothing", "The Chinese Restaurant". It was ranked #33 on TV Guide's 1997 list of the 100 Greatest TV episodes of All Time. The episode received a 12.1/19 Nielsen rating.
After Kramer purchases an air conditioner from a shopping mall in New Jersey, no one can remember where his car was parked in the multi-level parking garage. After carrying the air conditioner for some time, an exhausted Kramer leaves it behind one of the parked cars and tries to memorize the number of the parking space. Elaine fears that her new goldfish will die in the bag before they can arrive home, George must meet his parents by 6:15 to take them out to celebrate their anniversary, and Jerry has to go to the bathroom badly.
Elaine begs people in the parking garage to give them a ride around the building to find their car, but no one is willing to help. Kramer badgers Jerry to urinate in a corner where no one can see him. After Jerry reluctantly does so, he is spotted by a security guard and taken to the guard's office. Jerry tries to talk his way out of trouble by making up a stories about a fictional disease of "uromysitisis poisoning", before telling the truth. Elaine, Kramer, and George split up to find Jerry.
George also gets caught in the act of urinating after being convinced to do so by Kramer. Both Jerry and George are fined and released. After the two find Elaine, Jerry convinces George to ask an attractive woman (Cynthia Ettinger) to give them a lift around the garage. The woman accepts, and they all enter her car and drive off. She kicks them out after George makes disparaging remarks about Scientology, not realizing she is a Scientologist. They are dropped off right by Kramer's car but Kramer, who has the car keys, is still lost somewhere in the garage.
Hours pass by as George, Jerry and Elaine wait. Finally, Kramer shows up, having gone on a hunt for the air conditioner because he forgot where he left it. Elaine's goldfish did not survive and George is well past the deadline to meet his parents. They all get in the car, but the engine fails to start.
The Parking Garage was written by Larry David, his fourth writing credit for the season and was directed by Tom Cherones, his fourth directing credit for the season. The episode was filmed on the normal Seinfeld soundstage. The audience bleachers, Jerry's apartment and the restaurant set were removed from the soundstage. Shooting was done from different angles so the entire set was shown. The stage was surrounded by mirrors to make the parking garage appear larger. Louis-Dreyfus and Seinfeld had their makeup redone between takes while lying on the ground because the shoot was so demanding.
The end was scripted to have the gang drive off together, and the car failing to start at the end of the episode was an accident. Kramer actor Michael Richards continued to crank the car's ignition without success. It was decided that the car not starting was a much funnier ending, and it was kept in the episode as something else gone wrong. Jason Alexander can briefly be seen starting to laugh when the car doesn't start.
The episode follows the premise of the idea of Seinfeld as a "show about nothing". Holly Ordway of DVD Talk compared the episode to "The Chinese Restaurant" from the second season in which the whole episode takes place in a Chinese restaurant. Many other critics had a similar reaction to season two's "The Chinese Restaurant".
In its original American broadcast, "The Parking Garage" received a Nielsen rating of 12.1 rating/19% share--this means that 12.1% of American households watched the episode and 19% of televisions in use at the time were tuned to it.
The episode has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics with many saying it is better than "The Chinese Restaurant". Holly Ordway called the episode "another classic Seinfeld episode" and also stated "the characters spend the whole episode in the same place resulting in an episode that's both memorable and funny." She also said it was better than second season's "The Chinese Restaurant". Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide said "À la Season Two's "The Chinese Restaurant", this program uses one commonplace setting for its comedy, and I think it works even better than its famed predecessor".
Linda S. Ghent, Professor in the Department of Economics at Eastern Illinois University, discusses this episode in view of its economic themes, specifically those of common resources, thinking 'at the margin' and cost-benefit analysis. The common resource here is the garage itself: it is for the public, but it is not supposed to be used by the public as a bathroom. Jerry decides that the relief (benefit) of urinating will outweigh the risk (cost) of getting caught.
Matthew Bond, describing how "singleness and childlessness" were, at the time the series began, "unusual for a situation comedy", writes that
the Peter Pans of this series view all other children as competition and those who have children - i.e., their peers who are parents - as fools. In 'The Parking Garage,' George intervenes when a mother hits her son; the mother tells him to mind his own business. When George asserts that it is his business, the son tells George that he's ugly.
Matthew Bond concludes, "In the Seinfeld world, others are unwelcome; parents are oppressive; friends married or with children are buffoons; children are monsters. Why should Jerry and Our Gang grow up?"