Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Alternate Side” (S3, E10)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, Justin Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan and Jordan Duncan will watch an episode of TV’s greatest sitcom and provide notes and grades across a number of categories. The goal is to rewatch the entire series chronologically to see what truly worked, what still holds up today, what feels just a bit dated and yada, yada, yada it will be a great time. So settle into your couch with the cushions flipped over, grab a Snapple and enjoy the ride!

Seinfeld_[The_Alternate_Side]_(1991)_4

Best Character

Justin: Another toss up this time around, with Jerry and George leading the way for me. I thought George was awesome in his frantic state and eventual meltdown where he rants about his sorry life under the pretense of delivering the pretzels line. But, I think Jerry narrowly nudges him out as he was great in just about every scene he was in, from the nonsense at the car rental place to his solemn observations of Owen, I really enjoyed him throughout this one.

Aaron: No real stand out for me here so I’ll go with Elaine for her final scene with Owen. I love the desperation in her voice as she sings to him about Yankee beans. She still awkwardly pushes the breakup on the recent stroke victim and believe it or not we’re on her side. That god damn Yankee bean song haunts me to this day.

Andrew: I’ll go with Kramer again. I really enjoyed his reactions to the theft of Jerry’s car, especially when he asks to talk to the thief. George may have had the best “pretzel” line, but Kramer’s recounting of the story is great, as is his promise to talk to Woody on George’s behalf. Everyone’s great in this one, but Kramer has an impressive streak going.

Jordan: Let’s give this one to Kramer! As usual now, everyone is good. I can’t think of the last episode where at least three of the four weren’t solid, and these guys are really finding their groove. I feel like you could essentially give this out to any of the four main characters for any episode from here on out. So why Kramer? He carries an entire storyline just by retelling things that are happening to him, rather than actually showing it. Virtually everyone who has seen this episode knows, “These pretzels are making me thirsty!” and yet, we don’t even see Kramer on set. I really liked how the Woody Allen story was handled. Which leads me to best storyline…

Best Storyline

Justin: The car parking dominated this one as it encapsulated the main storyline for both George and Jerry and brought quite a few laughs throughout. Kramer’s movie star aspirations and ensuing line rehearsal added some chuckles, but George’s meltdown and Jerry’s rant against the car rental agent easily carried this whole episode. Toss in Sid shaming George’s parking and pants wearing skills and you have an easy winner.

Aaron: George trying to park the cars seems to be the catalyst for everyone’s problems by the time we reach the end here. Parking cars may be a simple as putting on pair of pants but George’s monumental failure is wonderful to behold.

Andrew: I thought Kramer’s movie role was the best. I feel like this kicks off the “fall ass-backwards into money” aspect of the character, which is one that I really enjoy. The stories of his rise and fall were excellent, and the fact that it all happened in the span of a few days makes it even better.

Jordan: I’m going with Kramer’s side story here. He gets randomly cast in a movie, trips while walking and gets a big laugh out of Woody Allen. This lands him a speaking role in the movie! His line, just in case you didn’t know, is “These pretzels are making me thirsty!!!” And then, just as his star was on the rise, he blows it all by slamming a glass down and making poor Woody Allen cry! What makes this storyline so fun is we never actually see any of it, only hear Kramer tell about it.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: If you are about to break up with someone that has a stroke, how long are you obligated to remain by their side? I think it depends how long you have been together and at what level of your relationship is at. For Elaine and Owen, I think she was justified in bailing as they had only dated seven times and banged no more than a handful of occasions. She is under no obligation to nurse him back to health. I do think Jerry was right though: seven dates is enough to require a face-to-face breakup.

Aaron: Should Elaine feel obligated to be Owen’s live-in nurse after a mere seven dates? Absolutely not. If you’re dating an old man who you don’t want to be with any more, a stroke is like a get out of jail free card. She should have jumped on this opportunity and gotten the hell out of there before he remembers her. What’s the alternative? Staying with him? Fucking him to death???

Andrew: Elaine’s predicament barely qualifies as a dilemma; sure, it’s awkward to break up with someone after they have a medical event, but it’s not like this was a serious relationship. It’s a pretty long jump from “casual sex” to “spoon-feeding an invalid”. I appreciate her sense of decency, but she was under no obligation to stay with the guy. And after his recovery, he essentially calls her a slam piece, so Owen earns no pity from me.

Jordan: This one seems really obvious to me: was Elaine obligated to care for Owen on his road to recovery? They went on seven dates, so even if that was every weekend, that’s only seven weeks, which is less than two months. That’s hardly a long term relationship, and who knows? Maybe they went out 2-3 times a week and they’ve only been together a month. I think Elaine staying by his side and feeding him was above and beyond her responsibility as a casual girlfriend.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Elaine and Owen were mismatched from the start. At least for Elaine anyway, who really doesn’t seem to know why she is with him. Owen admits he was in it for the nookie alone, so good on him. Also, George and car parking was a match made in hell. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Aaron: Every time I think of Owen and Elaine all I can think about are those old saggy balls… Relationship Grade:0/10

Andrew: I feel like the best part of this relationship is Jerry’s face when Elaine tells him Owen is sixty-six. Also, I just typed “sixty-sex”, so we know that Freud did not live and die in vain. Relationship Grade: .5/10

Jordan: Elaine and Owen? Elaine wasn’t interested, Owen was using her for sex and he may or may not have dropped acid. Not bad for an old man. Relationship Grade: 6.6/10

What Worked

Justin: Jerry and Kramer talking to the car thief was well done; Sid is a great angry old man; Jerry’s speech in the car rental place is an all time classic scene and resonates quite a bit with me; George’s frenetic dash around the apartment during the car brouhaha sums up George quite well; The pretzels line immediately enters the Seinfeld Pantheon; Jerry, Elaine and Kramer freaking out and tossing out remedies while Owen is unconscious was tremendous, including them being chastised by the paramedics for force feeding him cookies; Jerry being stuck with the damage bill on the car was a hint of things to come for these characters and proof that things will end poorly more often than not; The final scene with the callback to Kramer’s gloves was a nice way to close it out.

Aaron: Kramer was good in every scene he was in, and trying to get the gloves back from the car thief was great. George going ballistic over the parking and Sid’s verbal beat down of him were really on point. Of course everything associated with pretzels making one thirsty is the stuff of legend, especially Kramer telling Jerry he can’t act. Some great little everyday annoyances like the business at the car rental place and the discussion of the rules of breaking up with someone are great little social commentary moments. 

Andrew: “These pretzels are making me thirsty” is a classic. I like the way the whole group gives Kramer unsolicited advice on the line reading; the “unsolicited advice” scenes are becoming a running joke, and it’s one that I wholeheartedly endorse. I don’t know how they came up with the idea of making that line everyone’s expression of exasperation, but it was brilliant, and etched into my memory. Sid continues a really good run of guest stars, as his berating a sheepish George is one of the highlights of the episode. Jerry’s stand-up-style rants at the rent-a-car feel much more organic than previous rants; I guess they’ve figured out that sarcastic and caustic works better for him than overwrought. The way Elaine casually admits to having sex with Owen (“How’s the pasta over there?”) is fantastic, and her awkward scene with the convalescent Owen is even better (Yankee bean!).

Jordan: “THESE PRETZELS ARE MAKING ME THIRSTY!” – an all time classic Seinfeld line that has been used many times in the Duncan household. The phone call to the guy who stole Jerry’s car was good, and Kramer asking about his gloves was funny. Jerry and his rant about the reservation was good. It was pretty clear that this was a bit straight out of Seinfeld’s real life stand up routine, and in the past, that feels forced, but this time it was a natural fit with the episode. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I like that when George is frazzled, his hair (what’s left of it) resembles Kramer’s. Kramer telling Jerry he doesn’t know how to act was a very meta moment, and immediately followed by George’s super intense quoting of the pretzel line. The paramedics sternly asking who fed Owen cookies is what makes Seinfeld so great – the feeding of the cookies was a decent joke, but the follow up makes it so much better. The gloves at the end is a nice capper to the episode. George’s giant belt of keys is a great visual.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Even Jerry and George’s casual clothes are awful; Sid seems to have taken zero responsibility for Jerry’s car being stolen; Nothing else, I really enjoyed this episode.

Aaron: Jerry is so damn fake in any scene where he needs to be upset. It’s almost embarrassing at this point. I guess my biggest beef with this one was that while everything was pretty good, nothing was flat out hilarious like in the last few episodes. It felt just…there. Also George wears a baseball cap way too high on his head.

Andrew: I may be alone on this one, but I didn’t really enjoy George’s car parking disaster. I can see the humor in him being overwhelmed by a seemingly easy job, but it just didn’t work for me, other than him shouting the pretzels line from the window. I think I just like scheming, selfish George more than incompetent, pitiful George. The attempts to revive Owen in Jerry’s apartment didn’t blow me away, either.

Jordan: George wearing a shirt that says “Broadway Bound” that wasn’t intended to be funny. But it is! I thought about putting this in What Worked, but since I wasn’t supposed to laugh, but did, I feel it failed. Jerry still suffers from bad overacting from time to time. Every time George mentions his parents without us seeing them, I just get upset that we haven’t met the Costanzas yet.

Key Character Debuts

Sid the Car Parker

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– Kramer is an extra in a Woody Allen movie

– “I don’t understand, how do these thieves start the car?” – George “They cross the wires or something.” – Jerry “Cross the wires? I can’t even make a pot of spaghetti.” – George

– “I’m going down to visit my sister in Virginia next Wednesday, for a week, so I can’t park it.” – Sid “This Wednesday?” – Jerry “No, next Wednesday, week after this Wednesday.” – Sid “But the Wednesday two days from now is the next Wednesday.” – Jerry “If I meant this Wednesday, I would have said this Wednesday. It’s the week after this Wednesday.” – Sid

– “What do you think, would you go out with a sixty-six year old woman?” – Elaine “Well, I’ll tell you, she would have to be really vibrant. So vibrant, she’d be spinning.” – Jerry

– “Yeah, you better give me the insurance because I’m gonna beat the hell out of that thing.” – Jerry

– “Boy, these pretzels are making me thirsty.” – Kramer

– “What was wrong with that? I had a different interpretation! Do you know anything about this pretzel guy?! Maybe he’s been in the bar a really long time and he’s really depressed because he has no job and no woman and he’s parking cars for a living! (out the window to honking cars) Alright! Alright! Shut up! Shut up! I hear you! I’m coming down! These pretzels are making me thirsty!” – George

– “Shouldn’t you do something with the extremities?” – Jerry “What extremities?” – Elaine “What’s an extremity?” – Kramer “You raise the feet, get blood to the head.” – Jerry “You raise the head, you get blood to the feet.” – Kramer

– “Moving cars from one side of the street to the other don’t take no more sense than putting on a pair of pants. My question to you is who’s putting your pants on?” – Sid “I put my pants on, Sid.” – George “I don’t believe you. If you can put your pants on, you can move those cars.” – Sid “Well I don’t want to get into a big dispute about the pants.” – George “Who’s gonna send money to my sister in Virginia? Her little boy needs surgery on his foot. Now he’ll be walking around with a limp because you can’t park a few cars.” – Sid “Maybe I could call my father.” – George

– “You’re not covered for other drivers.” – Agent “Other drivers?” – Jerry “Um hm.” – Agent “Your whole business is based on other drivers. It’s a rented car. That’s who’s driving it, other drivers. Doesn’t my credit card cover me or something?” – Jerry “Not that particular one.” – Agent “Well I got a hundred cards, here, pick a card, take a card, any card you want, go ahead, whichever one, I don’t care.” – Jerry “Sir, if you had read the rental agreement–” – Agent “Did you see the size of that document? It’s like the Declaration of Independence, who’s gonna read that?” – Jerry “Mr. Seinfeld, as it stands right now, you are not covered for that damage and there is absolutely nothing that can be done about that.” – Agent “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” – Jerry

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry has a car phone

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This episode caught me off guard as I did not expect to enjoy this one as much as I did. Sid was pretty funny as the grumpy car parker, especially at the end as he just trashed George. There was a lot of brilliant weaving of stories and characters here, with everything cresting during the Unconscious Owen scene. That may be one of my most favorite scenes of the show’s run so far. Toss in the “Pretzels” line and Jerry’s rental car rant and you have an unheralded early series classic. I was ready to go a tick higher here but I felt like the end of the episode sputtered a bit and ground to a close instead of finishing strong. Regardless, this was another great episode in what has become a surprisingly great season. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: A decent episode that is completely uninspiring to write about. Solid acting from everyone (except Jerry) and tight writing aside were it not for a song about a certain bean this one would be completely forgettable.Final Grade: 5/10

Andrew: Unlike the last few episodes, this one is carried mostly by a handful of classic scenes; the pretzels and Yankee beans in particular are burned into my brain forever. Other than those, it’s really solid, but not really groundbreaking stuff. It’s a really good sign for the show’s progress that they can make some so-so storylines this enjoyable. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: If you asked me when the pretzels line episode was, I certainly wouldn’t have guessed midway through season three. I am surprised at how good this show got in a hurry. ANOTHER really good episode in a string of them, and this season is already becoming one for the ages. And they’re actually going to top it a few times! Just about every scene worked here – the conversation with the car thief, George freaking out over parking, Jerry freaking out at the rental place, Kramer sharing Woody Allen stories. It all delivers. Plus, we learned something: if you’re ever with someone and they pass out, don’t shove cookies in their mouth. Paramedics hate that. Give them pretzels instead! Final Grade: 7/10

Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.