Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Bottle Deposit” (S7, E21/22)

NWelcome 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!


Best Character

JT: I thought everyone was pretty solid here but nobody really stood out above the pack. Tony’s rant at Jerry was perhaps my favorite scene of the episode, right up there with Jerry and George talking out Downtown but I think I will go with Kramer and Newman. Watching them slowly sort out the plan throughout the episode and actually having it all come together was neat, as was watching it all melt down at the end. Plus, Newman’s calculator.

Aaron: Maybe it’s because I’ve eaten half a full cake to myself in the last 24 hours but I didn’t particularly like anyone. I DID like when George Steinbrenner fancied himself a scientist so I’ll go with him.

Andrew: I’ll give it to Kramer. Giving him extensive time with Newman is usually a good decision, and it pays off here, especially during the road trip sing-a-long. Plus I really like his line about the steering wheel falling off his car.

Jordan: I think I’m going to go with Newman this time. Jerry was unconvincing, George was in a go nowhere story, Elaine had some strong moments with Sue Ellen and Peterman interactions, and I had big issues with Kramer this time. But Newman was really good here – I enjoyed the obsession over the bottle deposit heist and his love of pie. I like to imagine he found the farmers house based solely on smelling the pie from a distance.

Jason: I think I’ll go with Newman here. He had some of his finest moments in this two part episode. From crunching the numbers to pull of the bottle deposit scheme to downing Mello Yello, running off with the homeless guys cart of cans and running out of the house at the end with his pants open from getting with the farmer’s daughter. A big showing from this strong cider guy.

Best Storyline

JT: The bottle scheme takes it for me here, as it had all the planning scenes and one liners plus the absurdity of them stumbling across Jerry’s stolen car. The scene where Newman reveals the plan to Kramer is great.

Aaron: I don’t know… I’ll go for the micro story of Elaine running out of patience for Peterman’s filibustering. Her dismissive glasses toss and her contemptuous “whatever” was the best acting on the show.

Andrew: I think it’s The Bottle Deposit, pretty easily. Kramer and Newman are always great together, and I enjoy the way it’s set up as an homage to movies like The Sting. And who hasn’t dreamt of getting that sweet, sweet, 10 cent return deposit in Michigan? Those lucky bastards don’t know how good they have it.

Jordan: I’ll pick the bottle deposit run, if only because it’s somewhat believable. Actually, it’s totally believable. A guy just got arrested for trying to do the very same thing!

Jason: I’ll go with a tie since they tied in together nicely. The bottle deposit scam and everything with Jerry’s car. Tony hauling ass in Jerry’s car into Ohio while passing Kramer and Newman on their way to Michigan was very well done.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: What happens when your boss lays out details on a project and you miss the details? Just ask him, George. Tell him you really want to get it right this time so you want to review it again. And then tell him to read a book on the shitter instead of holding meetings, jackass.

Aaron: The person who wrote “Downtown” has clearly never been downtown in a major metropolitan area. Their dream of this glorious, magical place is mere fantasy when faced with the homeless, the pimps and the stranglers. People die downtown you fucking savage!

Andrew: Should Elaine have come clean about the condition of the clubs? I’m usually advocating honesty here, but losing your job, or being on the hook for twenty thousand dollars doesn’t sound worth it. My hypocrisy only goes so far.

Jordan: A couple things here – why is it illegal to take bottles across state lines for a bigger deposit? More than that, why is it a JAILABLE offense? Also, shouldn’t the deposit amount be the same across the board? We should encourage and reward recycling, not hinder it! The future of our planet is at stake!

Jason: If your friends borrow your car to go to the price club and they leave their food and beverages from the club under your car hood causing damages to your car, shouldn’t you make them pay for the repairs? Jerry sure as hell let Kramer and Newman off easy for pulling this.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: I want an alternate reality where Newman marries the farmer’s daughter and lives with her and her pappy. Newman the Farmer could have been a hell of a spin off. Relationship Grade: $.10/10

Aaron: What the fuck is wrong with Jerry? He’s dated literal supermodels on the show but then turns into a total zombie in the face of Sue Ellen Mishkie. He dated TERI Hatcher. Has he never seen breasts? Relationship Grade: Seriously what’s going on here?

Andrew: I’m starting to think Newman and Kramer are the One True Pairing of this show. I hope they enjoy years of consuming bargain-sized snacks. Relationship Grade: 10 cents / 10

Jordan: Newman and the farmers daughter was really gross. Just picture him trying to hold down all that cider and pie while this apparent nymphomaniac seduces him the moment her father leaves the room. Has she NEVER seen another male human before? Relationship Grade: FEDERAL EMPLOYEES GET ALL THE ACTION/10

Jason: Poor Newman. His buddy ditched him in the middle of no where and all he wanted was a solid meal and some action from a farmer’s daughter. Relationship Grade: Crab Legs/10

What Worked:

JT: The opening scene with Wilhelm thinking George was listening to his project instructions while taking a shit is strong start; I enjoy when Jerry makes shit up about past political figures; Kramer’s missing steering wheel; I love that Newman thinks you have to pay five cents to recycle and then calling hobos deranged; Welcome back, Miss Mishke!; Sue Ellen is savage, forcing Elaine through the roof on the clubs; I love that Newman and Kramer stored groceries under the fucking hood; The picture of Newman’s mother is glorious and I love the the is using a turn of the century calculator to crunch his numbers; “Newman, you magnificent bastard!”; The can and bottle collecting montage is well done; Jerry and George walking through the lyrics of Downtown is one of my all time favorite scenes, especially when Jerry mocks him at the end; Tony tearing into Jerry about his car maintenance is fantastic; “THE WASHER FLUID IS NOT FINE!”; The detective is funny, saying this is normal with mechanics and then grilling Jerry about his treatment of the car; Elaine telling the detective that her and Jerry used to date cracked me up; The scene in the warehouse was well done all around; Kramer and Newman stumbling upon Tony and the Saab is inspired writing and a super fun coincidence; The farmer’s daughter, hache mache; The mutton callback is great; Newman saying “I nautilus”; Deena seeing George in the sanitarium is another good callback; “Norman”; Good payoff with Peterman thinking the clubs were damaged due to JFK’s temper

Aaron: I like that whenever Peterman comes into Elaine’s office it’s with the unspoken promise of an arduous imposition. Kramer’s confidence that he’s already crunched the numbers for the Michigan deposit scheme was a little off the beaten path. I enjoyed Jerry and George breaking down “Downtown.” There is a great level of continuity in the fact that no one can properly eat mutton.

Andrew: I like all the genre homage in this one: Newman and Kramer’s caper movie, the dark and gritty crime scene stuff with Jerry’s car, and even a classic Farmer’s Daughter set up. George’s storyline is a good one, mainly for the deep reading of the song “Downtown”, and the excellent Steinbrenner appearance. I had completely forgotten about the reappearance of Deena and Pop from “The Gum”, so that callback got me good. I don’t totally love the car mechanic storyline, but I definitely enjoy the absurdity of his attachment to the car.

Jordan: I actually really liked the premise of George trying to figure out Wilhelm’s plan. The “Downtown” scene was fanastic as George ponders every line of the song. It ultimately paid off poorly, but it was building pretty well – even George dressing down the guy in payroll and not getting the information he needed. I also like the bottle deposit run with Kramer and Newman, which is exactly the type of eccentricity I like about Kramer. People would call him dumb, but it’s just outside the box thinking, not actual stupidity – more on that later. Sue Ellen and Elaine’s rivalry is always fun. Tony the Mechanic was fine here, and I actually enjoyed the scene with Jerry having to identify the “body”. I always chuckle at Newman coughing on his cider, sweating like a hog.

Jason: Jerry’s opening bit about mechanics; Wilhelm thinking that George followed him into the bathroom; the project!; Jerry’s gag about LBJ planning the Hanoi bombing after a bad Thai meal; Kramer losing his steering wheel; Jerry asking Kramer and Newman if they can keep an eye on each other; Sue Ellen asking Elaine if she’s at the auction to get a glimpse of high society; crab legs; the auctioneer describing Sue Ellen as the shapely woman on the left; a muffin down the carburetor was delivered so well by Jerry; Tony’s emotional attachment and obsession with Jerry’s car; picking at the shift knob; Tony’s rant about rotating the tires; the picture of Newman’s mother; “Newman, you magnificent bastard, you did it!”; the montage of Kramer and Newman collecting bottles and cans; “It’s all downtown.” George residing the lyrics to “Downtown”; Tony lecturing Jerry; “The washer fluid is not fine!”; Jerry’s Mary-Beth Whitehead line; “Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.”; Jerry’s car being stolen treated as a missing persons and homicide case; Elaine telling the officers that her and Jerry used to date, but are now just friends; “It’s a turbo, Elaine!”; midnight blue; Kramer and Newman singing in the mail truck; JVN 728; Kramer tossing the bags out of the truck; everything coming together with Wilhelm doing the project for George, forgetting he did it, giving George credit for it; Big Stein questioning George about doing drugs; Herb and Dan; sluggish; Kramer kicking Newman out of the mail truck; George holding his pants up while on the phone with Jerry; Denna visiting Pop at the nut house; Pop asking George about the LeBaron; the farmer serving mutton for dinner; Susie eye-fucking Newman; Tony tossing the JFK clubs out of the car; ‘GOODBYE, NORMAN!”; Peterman’s suspenders!

What Didn’t Work

JT: Can a car really run at all with loads of groceries jammed under the hood?; Where is David Puddy, a true mechanic??; LaFarge’s sweater is almost as his pathetic as his crying; How does Jerry not know his license plate number? Grow up Jerome; Why couldn’t Kramer and Newman just call the cops and tell them where Tony was and then head on their way? That should be enough; Things go a little off the rails and get too unbelievable at the end

Aaron: This episode did nothing for me. All the storylines feel like they would be great storylines for Seinfeld on paper ,but fell completely flat for me. George working on a mystery project felt like a rehash of every other George scheme. The car murder stuff felt forced and was really stretching a thin idea over not nearly enough bread. I can’t believe I’m going to say this but I REALLY was bored by the whole bottle plan. that’s an awful lot of work to do for a measly 500 bucks each. How long did they have to work to get 10,000 bottles and cans? I’m willing to accept a loss of realism for the sake of humor but this felt to me like an episode that the writers were doing for themselves instead of the audience. Kramer kicking Newman out of the car just felt downright mean. Is that farmer’s daughter in literal heat? I know I mentioned it before but everything felt forced from the one liners about JFK’s temper to Tony bringing down a truck with golf clubs. It’s like they took a puzzle and ran it through a blender before giving it to my four year old son to finish. He’s four you selfish pricks!

Andrew: I feel like a lot of the jokes in this one fall flat. Jerry’s “He’s a very special maniac”, for example, didn’t really land for me. I’m not crazy about the storyline payoffs, either, especially having no real resolution to the car kidnapping.

Jordan: See, I like that Kramer is an eccentric. It makes him bizarre and he’s always up to quirky ventures… but he’s not STUPID. The whole grocery thing is ridiculous. How many groceries did they have that they couldn’t fit any in the car? What kind of an imbecile decides to put it UNDER THE HOOD? Who leaves it there? This was a huge miss at an attempt to be crazy Kramer, and they only connected with big dumb idiot Kramer. Also, perhaps I am missing something, but why didn’t Jerry just go to David Puddy?

Jason: How does Kramer afford a cell phone? Why is everything outside of NYC referred to as, “the country”?

Key Character Debuts

– Tony the Mechanic

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “It was the Peace Corps that gave me my start in this business. Clothing the naked natives of Bantu Besh.” – Peterman “The pygmy pullover.” – Elaine “Sotheby’s is having an auction of JFK’s memorabilia. One item in particular has caught my eye. The presidential golf clubs. To me, they capture that indefinable romance that was Camelot.” – Peterman “Whatever.” – Elaine

– “Why didn’t you take your car?” – George “Ah, the steering wheel fell off. I don’t know where it is.” – Kramer

– “Well, what d’you think the hoboes are doing?” – Jerry “I don’t know, they’re deranged.” – Newman

– “No, an eighteen-wheeler’s no good. Too much overhead. You got permits, weigh-stations, tolls… Look, you’re way outta your league.” – Kramer

– “The Triple-A guy said I was this close to sucking a muffin down the carburetor. What were you thinking?” – Jerry

– “No, no, no, no no. Listen to me. Most days, the post office sends one truckload of mail to the second domestic regional sorting facility in Saginaw, Michigan.” – Newman “Uh-huh.” – Kramer “But, on the week before holidays, we see a surge. On Valentine’s Day, we send two trucks. On Christmas, four, packed to the brim. And tomorrow, if history is any guide, will see some spillover into a fifth truck.” – Newman “Mother’s Day.” – Kramer “The mother of all mail days. And guess who signed up for the truck.” – Newman “A free truck? Oh boy, that completely changes our cost structure. Our G and A goes down fifty percent.” – Kramer “We carry a coupla bags of mail, and the rest is ours!” – Newman “Newman, you magnificent bastard, you did it!” – Kramer

– “Jerry, motor oil is the lifeblood of a car. Okay, you put in a low-grade oil, you could damage vital engine parts. Okay. See this gasket? I have no confidence in that gasket.” – Tony “I really wanna…” – Jerry “Here’s what I wanna do. I wanna overhaul the entire engine. But it’s gonna take a major commitment from you. You’re gonna have to keep it under sixty miles an hour for a while. You gotta come in, and you gotta get the oil changed every thousand miles.” – Tony “How much money is this gonna cost me?” – Jerry Huh. I don’t understand you. It’s your own car we’re Talking about. You know you wrote the wrong mileage down on the form? You barely know the car. You don’t know the mileage, you don’t know the tyre pressure. When was the last time you even checked the washer fluid?” – Tony “The washer fluid is fine.” – Jerry “The washer fluid is not fine!” – Tony

– “Maybe somebody did it and didn’t take credit for it. Maybe it was already done and didn’t need doing in the first place. I have no idea who did it, what they did, or how they did it so well. And you know what? Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care.” – George

– “How d’you do. Thanks for coming down.” – Detective “This is Elaine Benes.” – Jerry “We used to date, but now we’re just friends.” – Elaine “I see.” – Detective

– “Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine bottle and cans in the trunk, nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine bottles and cans. At ten cents a bottle and ten cents a can, we’re pulling in five hundred dollars a man. Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight bottle and cans in the trunk, nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-eight bottles and cans. We fill up with gas, we count up our cash!!…” – Newman & Kramer

– “What about drugs? You doing some of that crack cocaine? You on the pipe?” – Steinbrenner “No sir.” – George “Are you seeing a psychiatrist? Bcause I got a flash for you young man, you’re non compos mentis! You got some bats in the belfry!”- Steinbrenner

– “They’re gonna take you away to a nice place where you can get some help. They’re very friendly people there. My brother-in-law was there for a couple of weeks. The man was obsessed with lactating women. They completely cured him, although he still eats a lot of cheese.” – Steinbrenner

– “Jerry! We’ve lost the fat man, and we’re running lean. We’re back on track, buddy!” – Kramer

Oddities & Fun Facts

– The song Downtown was recorded by Petula Clark and released in 1964. It eventually hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

– Mary Beth Whitehead had some serious issues, similar to Tony

– The farmer makes Newman mutton for dinner, a call back to The Wink (S7, E4)

– Per Wikipedia, The farmer’s daughter’s cry of “Goodbye, Norman! Goodbye!” at the end of the episode was not originally scripted. Actress Karen Lynn Scott forgot that Wayne Knight’s character was called Newman and accidentally called him “Norman”, but the goof actually made the scene funnier, so it was kept in.

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: Man, I really want to like this one but it fell apart quite a bit at the end. The pieces were all there but things got a little to out of hand and derailed the tight stories down the stretch. This could have been an all time classic if it were a half hour and they cut the extraneous stuff out. Most of the George stuff was aimless, really all of it outside of the Downtown scene. And I hated the end where he just ends up in a mental institution. That tagged up with the whole golf club attack and Kramer ditching Newman after chucking bags of bottles and cans onto a highway took me out of the episode a bit. There were some really strong scenes here but too much superfluous content to make it much of a winner. I will say though, I really could go for a Mello Yellow. Final Grade: 6/10

Aaron: This is the first time in a while I’ve had trouble writing one of these. This was an episode that I looked back on fondly but I was left completely indifferent by the end. Which is really the worst. I’d rather rage watch Fuller House than watch Jerry and company phone it in. Where’s Susan? Let’s get her back here so we can murder her. Final Grade: 3/10

Andrew: This one fares better in my memory, probably for its legitimately great high points. The “Nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine bottle and cans” song is a definite classic, and the “Downtown” scene might be even better. But other scenes that have stuck with me, like the mechanic upbraiding Jerry about his treatment of his car, or throwing the golf clubs at his pursuer, didn’t do much for me this time around. There’s a lot more going-through-the-motions to this episode than I would have guessed. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: This one had a lot of good starts and a lot of bad finishes. I think the premise of each major story is fine, it’s the execution and payoff that leaves a lot to be desired. I feel like if they are going to have Wilhelm be a loon, the best payoff would be that he wanted George to find out how much money they would make if they collected cans at the ballpark or something goofy like that – the mental institution payoff was just dumb. Same with Kramer abandoning his trip to chase after Jerry’s car, just a silly payoff, and not in a good way. Meh. I would rather start poorly and end well than the other way around. Final Grade: 5/10

Jason: This two-part episode was fine, but far from my favorite two-parter. Sue-Ellen, Pop and Denna showing up again was great.  Brad Garrett killed it as Tony. The plots all tied together well. However, I feel like there was a lot missing in between everything. I think that more could have been thrown in about Wilhelm losing his mind and George getting out of the institution. Overall the good outweighed the bad.  Final Grade: 6/10