No Seinfeld fan


THERE is something absolutely annoying about the way some culture gurus take for granted that, come tomorrow night, we will all sit glued to our televisions watching the last episode of "Seinfeld."

To do otherwise is to be uncivilized, un-American, someone unworthy of calling herself a New Yorker.

Well, excuse me. I have been a New Yorker for 22 years. But I am not a "Seinfeld" fan. And, from what I have gathered from various folks I've talked to in recent days, I am not alone.

I am not one of those snobs who insist that they never watch television. Au contraire.

I'm actually something of a TV junkie, regularly watching everything from "The Big Valley" on the Family Channel to C-SPAN, to "Mystery," the British series on PBS to, yes, "ER." I draw the line at reruns of "The Sonny and Cher Show" and "Green Acres."

Somehow I've never fit "Seinfeld" into my viewing schedule, though I have followed its evolution into what NBC calls "Must-see TV." You can't pick up the most recent issues of Vanity Fair, People, TV Guide -- or even Time -- without confronting the television show everyone is supposed to care about.

"Seinfeld" airs Thursdays at the exact time that I usually curl up to "Mystery." Hercule Poirot or Jane Tennison or Adam Dalgleish or, most recently, Cordelia Gray, are much more attractive as characters who think as they solve crimes than a bunch of New Yorkers who do nothing. That is what "Seinfeld" is about, they say: nothing.

Though I'm tempted to join the rest of America and tune in for the finale, which is to be spread out over two hours, my instincts tell me that I should keep my wits about me.

Worldly matters

Of much more import than the ending of "Seinfeld" are such matters as the May 22 referendum on the Irish peace accord, the escalating opposition to Indonesia's President Suharto, the safety of those aging 737 jets and the start of the graduation season at high schools and colleges across the nation.

The success of "Seinfeld" may be attributed to the fact that I do not watch it. Whenever I fall in love with anything on network television -- or even on the local public radio station, now that I think of it -- that's a sure sign that it won't be around for long.

I loved "Frank's Place," which CBS canceled in 1988, and "The Gregory Hines Show" and "Michael Hayes," which that network has taken the ax to this year. ABC no doubt saw that I liked "High Incident" and "Nothing Sacred" and yanked them. Fox did the same thing with "413 Hope Street" and "New York Undercover."

If I were to become misty-eyed over any impending final episode, it might be for "Murphy Brown," which next week ends a run of nearly 10 years.

"Murphy Brown" has been a show about something, a show that, at its best, was funny and topical. Remember Vice President Dan Quayle taking issue with the Murphy-as-unwed-mom story line?

In the past, I've willingly joined the final-episode craze: "The Fugitive" in 1967, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in 1977 and "M*A*S*H" in 1983.

But not this time. Can that be a sign of not just good taste, but also of growing up?

E.R. Shipp is a columnist for the New York Daily News.

Pub Date: 5/13/98

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