Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Original "Show about Nothing"

I read most of P.G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves and Wooster" stories when I was in graduate school -- it was a delightful way to relax after a hard evening of studying. Later I watched many of the stories adapted for the T.V. and broadcast on "Masterpiece Theater."

I've begun receiving the "Jeeves and Wooster" T.V. productions via Netflix. The family often watches a show on Saturday and Sunday night. (The kids aren't allowed to watch TV during the week, and Meg and I watch very little.) They're very funny.

Last week, though, it dawned on me that the "Jeeves and Wooster" stories were really "stories about nothing," to quote the Seinfeld characterization. Nothing goes on in the stories except for the lives of the characters, and then their lives are full of fluff and stuff. I don't at all mean that as a criticism. Not that there's any direct correspondence. But it seems to me that Seinfeld borrowed somewhat from the "spirit" of the Jeeves and Wooster stories. That being said, the Seinfeld stories do seem to become dated with the passage of time. Jeeves and Wooster seems fresh as ever. I don't really know what accounts for the difference.


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