Out on the Internet, the fans are just as enthralled as they are appalled by the loss of NBC's Seinfeld.
On the graphics-based World Wide Web, literally dozens of sites are devoted to the show, including the official Seinfeld pages at www.nbc.com or Columbia TriStar, the show's studio.
But the real fun happens in the unofficial Seinfeld sites, which feature everything from "Seinfeld Canadian References" to "Soup Nazi Headquarters," which lets the visitor try to order from the classic Seinfeld character. "No soup for you."
It's different the Usenet's textbased news groups, where Seinfeld fans can follow linked messages, better known as threads, on their favorite Seinfeld subtopics.
In the alt.tv.seinfeld group, fans discussed the show's midMay finale with more calm -- and possibly more insight -- than network executives. One fan picked up the thread titled "They Should All Die!!!"
The idea, suggested by series star Jason Alexander, was embraced by one fan, who noted, "No sitcom in the history of television has killed off all their main characters in the final episode!
"For the final scene they should just have them all talking about nothing and then they crash/drive off a bridge."
This brought the been-theredone-that rebuke from a fan in New Zealand, who replied, "Actually the final episode of The Young Ones (a brilliant British sitcom from the early 1980s) featured all four main characters dying in an explosion when they drove a bus over a cliff. Now that's comedy!"
Could there be a Seinfeld spinoff? one fan asked. Probably not, answered another, noting the failures of the Col. Potter (ret.)driven "AfterMASH" and the continuation of the Jack Tripper story in Three's a Crowd.
A successful spinoff like Frasier, the fan wrote, requires "that a character has to be liked and not a major character. All spinoffs using major characters from the previous shows do not last long."
Still another fan analyzed Seinfeld's decision to quit the show this year, despite an offer of $5 million per episode to continue, citing the "seller's market" for syndicated Seinfeld contracts up for renewal across the country.
"The contracts being signed across America right now may have insured a better strategic position for the next wave of `Seinfeld' syndication," the fan wrote. "Even if Mr. Seinfeld in the long run would have had a bigger net worth if he had done one more season and settled for slightly less from the syndie market, it still is a pretty damn good decision.
"I'll tell you, the Hollywood mind is clever."
While the fans are intense on Usenet, the show's pending demise is barely obvious in the funhouse of the World Wide Web.
At nbc.com, cyber-surfers can see how their peers answered the show's latest (unscientific) poll question, which asks what Seinfeld character would be most likely to 'fess up about his/her bad behavior on a syndicated talk show. Survey sez: George! (45 percent).
As for just what that's 45 percent of, NBC officials won't say how many surfers have visted the Seinfeld site, or even whether it's increasing or decreasing as "the show about nothing" heads into the sunset.
Columbia TriStar, the Seinfeld distributor, also has its own site for the show, which lets visitors "explore Jerry's world in virtual reality and relive the funny moments by downloading audio and video clips."
Yahoo, the popular Web search engine, which lists more than 80 Seinfeld-related sites, also offers a pageful of newspaper and wire service stories about the show, and several message boards for fan reaction.
Those 80-plus sites are only those Yahoo's search engine has uncovered. You know there are lots of others.
The anarchic nature of the Web -- and the maniacal devotion of Seinfeld devotees shines through on the fan sites.
There's the "Seinfeld-OMatic" page, where a slot-machine twirls the images of the cast members and spits out plot lines that, while never used in the series, have an oddly familiar ring: "George Snubs Bryant Gumbel" and "Jerry learns Aunt Stella's favorite food is Bosco."
Given the anarchic nature of cyberspace, the discourse flows to all levels: As one dissenter said, "George is more annoying than my 2-year-old when he's tired."
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