Re-watching episodes of Seinfeld never gets tedious. They are fantastic, and always stand up to repeated viewing. I wonder if that’s because the cast and crew were brave enough to dump material that wasn’t working. Including an entire episode, mid-way through the recording week.
The Bet was written by Larry Charles, who also wrote The Library, The Limo and The Bris (among others), and who was always trying to bring darker elements into mainstream sitcom.
Also known as “The Gun”, The Bet sees Elaine making a bet with Jerry that she can easily buy a hand gun. The sub-plot features Kramer becoming a member of the mile-high club and George not believing him. They built sets for the episode, and even cast the supporting roles.
At the table reading Julie Louis-Dreyfuss expressed reservations about the gun plot and said “I’m not doing this.” Nonetheless, rehearsals began, but within 20 minutes, the cast wanted to stop, and director Tom Cherones was dispatched to inform the producers.
Larry Charles says, “it would have been an interesting show, but […] we couldn’t solve the funny problem of it. It never seemed to quite be as funny as it should be and, because of that, the balance was off and the darkness kind of enveloped it, and it could never really emerge from that darkness and become what it should have been. So, it was disappointing but also understandable.”
The Bet was pulled, and Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David sat down to write a replacement episode in just two days. They came up with The Phone Message.
Here’s an Inside Look from an easter egg on the DVDs: