Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Baby Shower” (S2, E4)

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-season-2-10-the-baby-shower

Best Character

Justin: I kept going back and forth all episode, trying to decide between George and Kramer but I think by the end Kramer delivered the strongest performance in a very weak offering overall. I loved him selling Jerry on the cable and also had some really good lines and delivery mixed in, including when he was flirting with the woman at the party. George had a few strong spots, but Kramer takes the award.

Aaron: I feel like a broken record, but I’m going to go with Kramer again. His insistence that Jerry take the free cable and the ensuing interactions with cable men/shower guests were all top notch. A line like “You’re wasting your life. 56 channels (imagine???), movies, sports, nudity and it’s free for life!” is exactly the kind of thing I want coming out of Michael Richards’ mouth. Whether he’s conceding to Jerry that the cable is in fact illegal, or telling some poor woman that he eats an entire apple, I long for his scenes every episode.

Andrew: Kramer was the best of the bunch. His persistence in trying to convince Jerry to get the cable, his explanations of Soviet culture, and sheepishness when the bill comes due were all top notch. He’s a bright spot in the midst of what I felt was a poor showing by the rest of the cast.

Jordan: I’m going with Kramer for the first time. His insistence on Jerry getting illegal cable through his shady friend was fun, and he had the line of the night: “What have you done to my little cable boy?” which nearly saved the awful dream scene. Then he barges in on the baby shower with his Soviet cable guys – where he lifts up his shirt to scratch his sides in front of everyone and then just hangs out. Great stuff even though I can’t wait for him to shave for some reason.

Best Storyline

Justin: I liked parts of the cable installation, but George’s revenge obsession was classic Costanza and really led to some nice character development on his end. We got to see him at his petty and angry best, clinging to a grudge and using his friendship with Jerry to verbally attack a woman during her baby shower. And then, at the end, everything blows up as George wusses out and Jerry gets torn up by a woman he had once jilted. It wasn’t the strongest storyline of the show’s run but it is the best offered here.

Aaron: George’s quest for revenge and subsequent failure is a really neatly tied up plot. He gets hung up on not getting a goodbye, drives all the way to the airport and ends up becoming a slave with an even messier shirt than he started with. It’s a perfect encapsulation of his life.

Andrew: I’ll also go with George’s obsession with Leslie. Holding on to a slight for years, and fantasizing about telling that person off, only to get backed down in the end, is something I think we can all identify with. (No? Just me? Carry on then.) His attempt to weasel his way into the baby shower without tipping off Jerry was particularly well done. 

Jordan: George wants to hold the shirt under Leslie’s nose and make her smell the chocolate! His rant to Jerry in the car was terrific and the fact that he wussed out on it actually makes it funnier to me. The fact that he still has the shirt itself is very typical of George. But even this story wasn’t too great.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should you ask someone to throw you a baby shower? No. That is hella lame, especially for someone as rich as Leslie. Why is she having her shower in a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan instead of at the Kennedy Compound? Big time fail.

Aaron: If you invite people to a room where you charge them admission, and you proceed to cook a meal for God and dump chocolate all over the audience, is it art? Art is meant to illicit a visceral and emotional reaction, and when you find a special piece that remains memorable years after the show, you’ve truly stumbled on something special. George was touched to his core with Leslie’s piece, so yes it was art. Art of the highest caliber.

Andrew: What do you do when workmen charge you way more than you expected? If the workmen are shady Soviets, does that influence your decision? I have nightmares about this very scenario. I would probably end up paying the guys, but I think Jerry was lucky to get out of it with a cracked TV.

Jordan: If you’re going to ask someone to throw a shower for you (which is already icky)…how are you going to insult them on their choices? I have a theory Leslie is a dirty liar who had nothing going for her and was making up the Kennedy connection.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Leslie is a bitch and while it led to a solid George revenge plot, she clearly wasn’t worth all the hullabaloo and how gaga he was over her. I am surprised how little relationships have been a focus in these early episodes as that is one of the main things associated with this show. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Aaron: Leslie and George make me want to vomit all over a child. Relationship Grade:0/10

Andrew: Leslie herself was nothing special, but I did enjoy her inexplicable power over George. She’s like some sort of Svengali. Once again, this is something I identify with all too well. Relationship Grade:3/10

Jordan: All we really have here is George and Leslie, and Jerry and Mary, and neither of them were the focus of the show. Mary going wild on Jerry was weird and out of the blue. Relationship Grade: 1/10

What Worked

Justin: Bitter, sarcastic, vengeful George is always the best George; We are getting more topical news/pop culture talk during the random diner scenes; Bill, the last person Jerry may ever see thanks to the blizzard, made me crack up with his delivery; The Russian cable installers at the baby shower were good for a few laughs, especially hovering over the food and then forcing their way into the bathroom; George pussying out at the last minute after his preparation and adamant stance that he would let Leslie have it; Nothing works out for anyone in the end in this one and that is vintage Seinfeld

Aaron: For the first time I felt that the stories of the four main characters were woven almost seamlessly together in a very neat package, with all four culminating at the baby shower. It’s such an important part of the show later on and it was great to see it on display here. The glee that Kramer exudes when speaking about the Russian immigrants is awesome and George is fantastically frantic throughout. His speech that he plans to say to Leslie is wonderful, and the juxtaposition of Mary going nuts on Jerry was great. I’m also digging the supporting weirdoes who seem to be appearing regularly now, the Russian cable guys being fun throughout. Elaine and Jerry were also solid aaaaaaaaaannnnd Elaine’s wardrobe is even getting better.

Andrew: I like what they are going for here, as far as finding humor in people getting you to do things you wouldn’t normally do. Elaine craves Leslie’s approval for reasons she can’t understand. Jerry gets pressured into stealing cable. And George dreams of revenge for years, but when the opportunity finally presents itself, he goes right back to the deferential attitude that he’s been ashamed of all this time. I also like the bait and switch of having George plot his big speech for most of the episode, then having the previously unseen Mary steal his moment. Even though I wasn’t crazy about the execution, the writing is getting more ambitious and polished. And although the dream sequence admittedly feels out of character for the show, I like it more than most. I get the feeling that the “What have you done to my little cable boy?” scene cracked up the writer’s room, so they shoehorned it in there. And you know what? I’m OK with that.

Jordan: “My name is Bill, and I may be the last person you ever see.” So random, I laughed. Kramer and the Soviets provided some entertainment. Honestly, there is not a lot here.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Jerry is back to being a pussy and worrier about the cable and the women messing up his apartment and it was obnoxious at times; The FBI dream sequence is so un-Seinfeld and felt way out of place; Elaine kissing up to Leslie just didn’t feel right as the real Elaine would have torn into her by the end.

Aaron: I really hated Leslie. She was completely distasteful and I genuinely wanted her off the screen. The comedy scenes are still too long for my taste, and the final scene where Elaine, George and Jerry sum up the episode feels weird and out of place. I also never want to see Jerry shot again. I’d be ok/be aroused if Leslie was shot though.

Andrew: As I mentioned briefly earlier, the execution in this episode feels off; I like the ideas behind everything, but it just wasn’t that funny. It’s one thing to have the idea of Leslie holding a weird power over Elaine and George, but it’s another thing to pull that off on screen, and I don’t think it worked.

Jordan: The dream sequence! This would fit right into most sitcoms, but not Seinfeld. Not only was it not fitting for the show- Jerry can’t even contain his giant grin while he is being murdered! His poor acting is easy to overlook a lot of times because Kramer, George and Elaine are so good, but this made a bad scene even worse. Leslie was a total jerk, asking Elaine to throw her a baby shower then mocking it. “Who catered this, Sears?” Does Sears even do catering? Such a poor insult from an awful person.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “It’s like Epstein-Barr Syndrome with a twist of Lyme Disease” – Elaine

– “Come on! It’s the 90s, it’s Hammer Time!”” – Kramer

– Continued importance placed on airport runs as a level of friendship

– “Then you and the gals can take a load off and watch something on Lifetime!” – Kramer

-“Why live like this?” – Kramer

– Elaine drops that she saw JFK Jr. on a bus once

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry is using rabbit ears for his TV with cable companies in court

– Kramer offers illegal cable with “56 channels”

– Kramer eats apples whole, including the core

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Outside of Kramer’s zingers and George’s angry rant to open the episode, there wasn’t too much here to dig into. Jerry was whiny and annoying and his Nervous Nelly act over the cable was cringe inducing at times. Elaine kowtowing to the bitch Leslie was sad to see as well. The cable storyline had potential but really fizzled once it ran into the baby shower and George’s attempt at revenge. I liked that they are starting to tie all the stories together, but these just didn’t seem to mesh. This was a step back after two strong episodes. Final Grade: 2/10

Aaron: I liked this episode. It falls squarely in the category of “good, not great.” The writing is tight, and the chemistry is growing between the supporting characters as they’re starting to interact a little more with each other instead of being tied to Jerry. I am looking forward to the time when the guest stars are a little less distasteful, between Leslie and Horneck you’d think we’d never get to Puddy and Peterman. Final Grade: 4/10

Andrew: This episode definitely suffers by comparison to the previous two. It’s still a big step up from the first season in terms of the writing, but it needed some really funny lines and/or moments to be on par with those episodes. Maybe if Leslie had been a little more believable as someone you’d instinctively want to impress, this episode would have worked, but as it was, it fell short for me. Final Grade: 2/10

Jordan: If you have it on DVD or Wiki the episode lists, this is the fourth episode of Season 2. However, it didn’t ORIGINALLY air until May (the episodes before and after it aired in February). This makes me think the order we are watching it in is how it was taped, but this one is so bad they probably buried it until season end. A steep drop in quality from what we were getting, as the show has been slowly improving from the start, then we get this. If it was a Season 1 episode, I may give it some more leeway, but I’m not feeling that generous. Final Grade: 2/10

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.