Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Andrea Doria” (S8, E10)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, JT Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan, Jordan Duncan and Jason Greenhouse 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!

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Best Character

JT: Easily George here. He was tremendous the whole time, between being so callously dismissive about Eldridge and the sinking ship as well as his fantastic recounting of his life’s tragedies. It was all peak Costanza. I enjoyed Jerry here too, mainly the scene of him delivering the mail.

Aaron: So many choices here. Do you go with the old black guy who is simply astounded that a bird collided with Elaine’s head? Do you go with the Costanzas and their immediate descent into combat? How about George and his suffering? I can’t. I just can’t. I was completely expecting to hand this one to the monstrous life of George Costanza. I was. I can’t in good conscience turn away from a man who needs to be pinned down and forced fed a pill as he thrashes his head defiantly from side to side. Kramer’s transformation to dog was undoubtedly Daniel Day Lewis’ inspiration for Bill the Butcher Cutting. His line readings are stunning and his physical acting is second to none. On top of all that he has APARENTLY written two books that I am dying to read. The second, and I mean the fucking second that Astonishing Tales of The Sea and Astounding Bear attacks go on sale I am THERE with my Hulkamaniac bookmark in hand.

Andrew: I feel like I could make a case for anyone here, but I enjoyed Elaine the most. The extended shrugging take with her and Jerry is one of my favorite moments of the episode, and I love her describing the allure of someone being “stab-worthy”. Most of all, the dejected way she walks into the diner after the bird incident kills me.

Jordan: Man this is tough. Everyone is pretty good, but Kramer and George are the front runners. Do I go with George celebrating his life of suffering to get an apartment and writing off the Andrea Doria as barely tragic, or do I go with Kramer’s metamorphosis into Lassie? Ultimately, I’m a sucker for physical comedy bits, so I’m going Kramer here. He wants to go for a car ride!

Jason: After some long and hard thinking do to a few solid performances, I’ll go with Kramer.  This wasn’t an easy choice, but the K-Man was tremendous exhibiting dog traits. From borrowing Smuckers to go to the vet about their cough, to his physical comedy when Jerry tries to give him the medication, running away from Jerry to avoid going to a real doctor, biting Newman and coughing information to the cops about the Elaine and Alan incident at the Old Mill. Their are two honorable mentions here. First, George rolling off the Astonishing Tales of Costanza to get the apartment was brilliant and second, Jerry and his cosplay postman stuff was a lot of fun. Kramer was on point the entire episode, as Jerry and George didn’t pick things up until the back end of the episode.

Best Storyline

JT: All Andrea Doria here for me. The scene of George telling the stories to the board is an all time classic and I love how he becomes more and more steadfast in his dismissal of the Doria sinking as a legit tragedy.

Aaron: George’s plight. The editing and somber tone in which he recounts his shit life are pitch perfect. The man is so confident that he obnoxiously drums on the wall while an old man recounts nearly dying at sea. The man is a beast beaten only by a more vile piece of garbage.

Andrew: In a bit of an upset, I think it’s Elaine’s bad-breaker-upper storyline. I’m fascinated by the idea of a man with the power to make people catastrophically self-conscious about a flaw that weren’t previously aware of. Plus, the sudden assaults on Alan make me laugh.

Jordan: Man, I feel like I do this all the time as a make up call for Best Character. Since I gave that to Kramer, I will give George and his apartment board saga the nod here. George being supremely confident is a lot of fun, and the payoff with Alan getting the apartment is actually pretty fun at the end. Tough luck, chinless!

Jason: Here I’ll go with the Astonishing Tales of Costanza. George not giving a shit that Mr. Eldridge survived the USS Andrea Doria was superb writing. The big payoff with George telling his stories to the tenant association and them breaking down crying kills every time. An honorable mention goes to Kramer: half man, half dog saga.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Should you allow your poor dog to be whored out to a creep with croup? What a shit dog owner, that dude should be put down or locked up and let poor Smuckers go live with someone that gives a shit.

Aaron: How many people have to die for something to be labeled a tragedy? Only four percent of the people on the good ship Cat Stevens died. Four percent! You need at least, AT LEAST, AAAAAATTT LEEEAAASSST, twelve (12) percent for something to legally be defined as a tragedy. If China suddenly fell into the ocean you’d better hope to God that one hundred and twenty million people died before you plaster the word TRAGEDY all over You know what the true tragedy is? The fact that my word processor refuses to allow me to spell God without the upper case G. 12 percent! It has to be twelve percent! It’s in the Bible people. Oh and now why is Bible forced into the upper case? I will smash this computer to bits so help me God… Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Andrew: Is it OK for George to decide that Mr. Eldridge’s ordeal was not sufficiently tragic for him to deserve the apartment? I’m OK with it. In fact, I have more problems with the guy leveraging his shipwreck experience for personal gain. I’d hope it would give him more perspective on what’s important than that.

Jordan: Forget the episode, should Aaron be upset that God is capitalized? It’s an easy fix, Mr. George. You don’t see me whining that my phone constantly corrects Dolph to Adolph for some reason. I guess what I’m saying is, I keep my whining private, unlike my Canadian friend.

Jason: What’s more tragic, a guy who survived a sinking ship or a middle-aged bald headed loser who is a total fuck up? Here’s your keys, Mr. Costanza!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: George should have banged Mrs. Ricardi and earn that apartment the hard way. Then he would have another story for the Astonishing Tales of Costanza as well. Relationship Grade: $50/10

Aaron: Alan had no business anywhere near Elaine. He goes near her again and those two cops will enter him with the force of a thousand violins. Relationship Grade: Beethoven’s 5th/10

Andrew: While Alan fascinates me, Elaine can do a lot better. Relationship Grade: Tough luck, chinless/10

Jordan: Big head bump nose shouldn’t have let Alan get under her skin. She’s a beautiful, successful woman in New York City. Her giant doom and claw-shaped schnozz is just proof that we aren’t all perfect. Relationship Grade: STAB HIM AGAIN/10

Jason: There’s a special place in hell for Alan. This bad breaker-upper is a total piece of shit who deserved to be stabbed, have coffee thrown in his face and jammed with a fork to the forehead. He ranks towards the bottom of Elaine’s fuck boy list. I hope I’m not the only one that dreams of a Kramer and Smuckers spin-off.  Man and best friend drinking from the toilet in the opening credits should be a thing. Relationship Grade: 1,650 Survivors/10

What Worked:

JT: Kramer choking down the hot dog like Kobayashi always makes me laugh; George being a dick about his great new apartment was great as was him pretending to play basketball with the association head; Elaine reading the sugar packet out of boredom; Jerry’s comment about the expiration date after Kramer coughed on the food was good as was the mixup over Andrea Doria, Edmund Fitzgerald and Gordon Lightfoot; Kramer’s bizarre book collection and his nonchalant “he’s not gonna do it” about Newman was a good back to back; George tormenting Eldridge was fantastic and Jerry’s idea to tell the story of his suffering to the tenant board was brilliant; Jerry forcing Newman to wait in the hallway made me chuckle and I really enjoyed the unholy alliance;  Jerry’s “where I come to play with my toys” line is a favorite of mine; Jerry forcing the pill down Kramer’s throat is good physical comedy as was Jerry jingling the keys to get Kramer in the car; The Costanzas are always a delight; George telling his story to the board is an all timer; Kramer biting Newman and Jerry delivering the mail was good stuff;

Aaron: I really loves almost everything about this episode. It’s the first time in a while that the writing felt as tight and connected as it did in the earlier seasons. The character arcs are all brilliant. George going from smiling, gloating jackass to self conscious chinless man was a tremendous descent. Elaine fell from atop Mount Is That The Best You Got to the plundering depths of Big Head pit. Even the rental board went from smugly dismissing George to being moved to tears. Hell Kramer became a living breathing dog, who when clued into Jerry’s horrible deception fled through the streets of New York like that mutt in Homeward Bound. I never even saw that movie but I feel so fucking good about this one I’m going with it. The ALLIANCE is great but the real gem is Newman’s sudden realization that his job is as simple as walking around and jamming things in boxes. I love George “jumping ahead” on Kramer; knowing immediately that his exposition is leading to Kramer being examined by a vet. Hot dog phone in Newman’s apartment? Genius. Frank Costanza clinging to the booth while his wife freezes? Wonderful! Eldridge being bombarded with ship puns by George before sitting there in the corner, head in his hands defeated by the saddest man alive. THERE WAS A DOG NAMED SMUCKERS.

Andrew: Kramer is really good here. His dog routine is solid, and he has a bunch of funny line readings (especially the botched vasectomy, and Astonishing Tales of the Sea). Jerry’s whistling mailman scene is great. George recounting his lift story for the tenant board is very memorable, and the woman breaking into sobs as he walks out really puts it over. Having Kramer bite Newman was a nice touch, and I profoundly admire Newman’s quitting strategy (“I’m still collecting checks, I’m just not delivering mail”). Having Alan get the apartment with a simple bribe was a great way to end George’s storyline. Any episode with Frank and Estelle gets a big boost.

Jordan: Man, Kramer is good. It’s still kind of wild to me that they never threw enough money at someone in this cast for a spin off. Kramer seems like the one they would go with, and I would totally watch an episode of him being force fed dog pills and choking on hot dogs so his friend can shop for batteries. Moving on, I love George inviting his parents to eat so he can build his case for the apartment. The immediate fight that breaks out is exactly what was expected, and it did not let me down. And while I’ve been singing the praises of Cosmo and George so far, let’s not forget the Jerry/Newman story. I liked that they came up with a way to have them work together that wasn’t forced, it makes sense Jerry would work for Newman if it meant having him out of his life. Newman using his 1/4th of the storage locker to store undelivered mail was pretty funny too.

Jason: Kramer woofing down the hot dog in the cold open; “Georgie’s moving out!”; Kramer renting out half of his storage to Newman; the waiter offering Elaine more bread after he tells her that Alan was stabbed; stab-worthy; Kramer coughing into Jerry’s food; Kramer not liking doctors because they botched his vasectomy; “even more potent”; Astonishing Tales of the Sea; “51 people, that’s it?” Newman being depressed from not getting his transfer; “The most sought-after postal route of them all. The air is so dewy-sweet you don’t even have to like the stamps.” Kramer and Smuckers sharing the same cough; Elaine causing Alan to be traumatized from her waiving the knife around; “Another ex” splashing coffee in Alan’s face; Vets having to cure a  lizard, a chicken, a pig, a frog all in the same day; George’s “Ahoy” to Mr. Eldridge; George crapping all over Eldgridge for surviving the ship not being a big deal; Newman moving away being Jerry’s dream; Jerry forcing Kramer to take the dog meds; “May cause panting and loss of fur”; Jerry waving his keys in order to have Kramer take a ride; Estelle and Frank bickering about the draft; Kramer running away from Jerry; Kramer biting Newman’s ankle; “I can’t believe I’m gonna be a mail man!”; Jerry delivering mail on Sunday; George being obnoxious waiting for Mr. Eldridge to finish up his story; George’s references to “The Subway”, “The Limo”, “The Hamptons”, “The Rye” and “The Invitations” during the Astonishing Tales of Costanza; the tenant association breaking down after hearing George’s story; Newman’s hot dog phone; “just crease, crumple, cram.. you’ll do fine.”; Newman not getting the transfer because too many people got their mail; the cab driver making Elaine slouch and the bird flying into her big head; Kramer coughing the urgent message to the cops about Elaine kicking Alan’s ass at the Old Mill Restaurant; “trouble at the Old Mill”

What Didn’t Work

JT: I never really got into the dog coughing storyline, it seemed a bit too far out there; And why would Smuckers’ owner just let a random person borrow his dog?; George pronouncing buffet “BooFay” was a bit much; I want to like the Kramer as Lassie bit but I just can’t… it’s just all too much; Alan getting the apartment felt really tacked on and forced too

Aaron: That cab driver could see out the window. What a prick.

Andrew: The storylines have a lot of awkward elements: Kramer trusting vets more than doctors, Newman quitting over one missed transfer, Elaine’s friend knowingly setting her up with a sociopath, etc. I wouldn’t call them plot holes, exactly, but the show is capable of better.

Jordan: Why would Elaine’s friend set her up with Alan in the first place? This guy clearly has a track record. Also weird that Smuckers’ owner was so quick to hand his dog over to Kramer.

Jason: It’s a little odd that Smuckers owner let Kramer borrow him seeing that he had never met Kramer before.  I was not a fan of the end with Alan getting the apartment because he bribed the super with $50.  Everything with Elaine and Alan had a lot of promise, but it all fell flat for me.

Key Character Debuts

– N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Yeah, well, they like to call it a set-up now. I guess the blind people don’t like being associated with all those losers.” – Jerry

– “Well, it’s coughing, Jerry. It expells the diseased germs out of the body, into the air.” – Kramer

– “Well… the Andrea Doria… that was quite a fire.” – George “Shipwreck.” – Mrs. Ricardi “I remember…” – George

– “That’s no tragedy! How many people do you lose on a normal cruse? 30? 40?! Kramer, can I take a look at that book?” – George

– “To Hawaii. The most sought-after postal route of them all. The air is so dewy-sweet you don’t even have to like the stamps.” – Newman

– “So what are you gonna do?” – Jerry “Dump him. I can’t be with someone who doesn’t break up nicely. I mean, to me, that’s one of the most important parts of a relationship.” – Elaine

– “Oh, I’ll take a vet over an M.D. any day. They gotta be able to cure a lizard, a chicken, a pig, a frog all on the same day.” – Kramer

– “We had to abandon ship.” – Eldridge “Well, all vacations have to end eventually.” – George “The boat sank.” – Eldridge “According to this, it took… 10 hours. It eased into the water like an old man into a nice warm bath – no offense.” – George

– “So, he’s keeping the apartment. He doesn’t deserve it, though! Even if he did suffer, that was, like, 40 years ago! What has he been doing lately?! I’ve been suffering for the past 30 years up to and including yesterday!” – George

– “The guy who had the Hawaii transfer got busted for hoarding Victoria Secret catalogues. I gotta deliver that mail!” – Newman

– “Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes me, where ever it takes me as long as it takes you away from me!” – Jerry

– “You can’t deliver mail!” – Newman “Well, why not?” – Jerry “I guess you’re right. It’s just walking around putting it into boxes.” – Newman

– “Hey, I’ve been trying to jam stuff in the box, like you told me, but sometimes it says, like, “Photographs – Do not bend”.” – Jerry “”Do not bend”. Just crease, crumple, cram… you’ll do fine.” – Newman

– “Nothing… Except that a bird ran into my giant freak-head.” – Elaine “What giant freak-head?” – Jerry “The one that sits atop my disproportunately puny body… I’m a walking candy apple!” – Elaine

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Kramer references his vasectomy in a callback to The Soul Mate (S8, E2)

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This is one I really wanted to like as a whole but there were some parts that just prevent it from moving into that upper tier. The Andrea Doria and mail stories were a lot of fun with some classic scenes but I just don’t really like the Smuckers stuff as it was too unrealistic across the board and it dragged things down for me. I also didn’t care much for the Elaine and Alan story. They should have just had Elaine be looped in with Kramer’s illness and maybe call back to their past issues with doctors or something. George was a beast here and I loved the brief Frank and Estelle run in but it just wasn’t enough to carry this one to the top. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: This was a masterpiece. The writing, the acting all of it. One of the best episodes of the series so far. I loved every minute save for the dickhead cabbie. Elaine don’t deserve that. Final Grade: 10/10

Andrew: This is a bit of a tough one to grade. There are some high points I remember really fondly, like George before the tenant board, or the bird flying into Elaine’s head. But in the context of the rewatch, the episode overall feels subpar in comparison to the rest of the series. I guess they can’t all be classics, but there’s a lot to be said for producing genuine laughs. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: This was another really good one. At this point in the show, I struggle to come up with summaries for good episodes at this point. Even the bad ones are better than most other shows, so I feel like I’m not giving it much credit when I say it’s really good. What makes Seinfeld so fantastic is an episode like this-Kramer the dog, Big Head Elaine, mailman Jerry and the Astonishing Tales of Costanza are ALL really good moments, yet none of them are really looked back on as iconic moments in the show. Why? Because there’s so many of them. Final Grade: 8/10

Jason: Aside from Elaine and Alan’s stuff taking a big nose dive and the weak ending with Alan bribing the super in order for him to get the apartment, this episode was a lot of fun. George, Jerry, Kramer and Newman all brought their A game. Even Frank and Estelle delivered nicely in their brief appearance. This is another episode where the good outweighs the bad big time. Kramer had some of his best physical comedy in a while and the Jerry and Newman feud is always can’t miss TV. This is hard to grade as a whole, but the big moments were well done and had me laughing. Final Grade: 8/10