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!
JT: Kramer called a woman a “dame”. That would normally do it… but Jackie Chiles was here. And he was as awesome as always. But…Frank Costanza gets two lines and destroys everyone in his path. His message that he leaves Jerry is amazing. And, he said everything that every Yankee fan has ever thought of about that brutal Jay Buhner/Ken Phelps trade. Get ’em Frank!
Aaron: Tough this week. I thought almost everyone in the episode was solid but no one really stood out as best. In that case I’ll go with Frank Costanza. Sure he’s only in a scene and a half but IN THE FACE OF HIS SON’S DEATH he still takes George Steinbrenner to task for trading Jay Buhner. If that wasn’t enough his extremely concise phone message of “Jerry it’s Frank Costanza, Steinbrenner’s here, George is dead call me back,” is as to the point as it is insane.
Andrew: I’m going to go with Steinbrenner. He definitely had the best laughs to screen time ratio. There’s so much good stuff packed in (his surprising concern for George’s well being, his sudden jump to concluding that George is dead, defending the Jay Buhner trade), but my favorite might be the “How ‘bout a good morning?” throwaway bit when Wilhelm first comes to his office. Steinbrenner’s always great, but this was his best work.
Jordan: I’ll go George here, but this was defiinitely an ensemble performance. All four of the main characters deliver, and the supporting cast is perfect-we get Jackie Chiles, Steinbrenner AND Frank Costanza in one episode? And a bra sporting Sue Elle Mischke? This is like picking who the MVP of the original Dream Team was. So I’ll go with the short one – John Stockton!
Jason: Even though his role was minor compared to others here, Frank made a huge impact with two huge spots. First off, the message he leaves on Jerry’s answering machine is phenomenal. “Jerry, it’s Frank Costanza, Mr. Steinbrenner is here, George is dead, call me back!” Second, when Big Stein breaks the news to Frank and Estelle that George is dead, we get my all-time Frank moment. Him no-selling that George is dead and drilling Stein about why he traded Jay Buhner is as good as it gets.
JT: Tricky choice here but I will go with George’s scheming because it delivered the best lines and moments of the episode, including Frank Constanza’s tour de force.
Aaron: I’ll be honest I haven’t seen this one since I was about thirteen or fourteen and I’ve got to say I appreciate Sue Ellen Mishkie on a whole new level now. So her thing. Whatever it is.
Andrew: I think it’s the car storyline. It’s just so perfect that George was gifted with a great way to get ahead without doing any extra work, and that he would immediately ruin it by getting greedy. Plus, this storyline has George’s parents and Frank’s epic Jay Buhner rant, and that’s hard to top.
Jordan: Tough call – I can’t decide between Sue Ellen’s bra/no bra situation and George’s parked car getting him a promotion. George’s was funny, but Sue Ellen’s was very boob-centric. I’ll go boob-centric.
Jason: Stan being Karmer’s caddy/life coach killed as did Elaine’s rivalry with Sue Ellen, but Big Stein declaring George is dead and the events that follow takes it for me.
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
JT: Should Jerry have assisted George in this scheme? I am not sure. I mean George was being very brazen and Jerry warned him of these perils so close to his promotion. It was a ballsy move but friends is friends. Jerry did the right thing initially… until he fucked it all up.
Aaron: How long did they torture those pigeons for them to stand on the car while Jerry and Kramer acted around them? I know we don’t want to talk about the injustices we perpetrate on animals for art but these fowl were no doubt blasted with fire hoses until tears poured down from their beady little eyes. I can on assume that they were then locked in a room with the song “Day-O” blasting on a continual loop until they stumbled out a group of broken and defeated birds. Who was right? Who was wrong? Maybe it’s the artist in me but I’d sacrifice a hundred more birds to nail that scene. They don’t have feelings. Or souls. People don’t have souls. What’s a soul? What’s a people. I CAN FLY! I CAN FLY!!!
Andrew: Is it OK to tell someone’s parents you’re pretty sure their child is dead? I appreciate the way he feels responsible for his employees, but maybe Big Stein should check with the authorities before making that leap.
Jordan: Let’s stop the charade. O’Henry is not a good candy bar, and for a television show to perpetuate that myth, even in the guise of situational comedy, is damaging and hurtful. My children could have been watching and asked for an O’Henry bar. Why would I give them one when they can have Milky Way, Twix or even Nestle’s Crunch?
Jason: What the hell did the the Yankees trade Jay Buhner for anyway? I mean look at the numbers he had with the Mariners. Imagine him in the lineup with Bernie, O’Neill, Tino and Jeter during the dynasty era from mid 90s to early 2000s. Whoa mama!
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
JT: Jay Buhner and the Mariners was a match made in heaven. A steady lineup presence to extend an already lethal lineup and he was pretty much served up on a platter by Big Stein. The punishment was a brutal defeat to Seattle in the 1995 ALDS. Poor Donnie Baseball. Relationship Grade: 1995 Sucked/10
Aaron: Jackie Chiles’ family portrait is enveloped by clouds in the background. This confirms the fact that he has a heavenly life with a heavenly wife. Who’s life will end with a heavenly knife. Relationship Grade:10/10
Andrew: After seeing Sue Ellen’s entrance, I could see her causing a car accident or two. Relationship Grade: Oh Mama/10
Jordan: Sue Ellen is too much woman for Jerome. Granted, she’s probably using him to avoid a hefty payout, but even if the feelings were truly there, he’s just going to disappoint her. In that way, he is like the O’Henry bar of relationships – sure, it’s always there and available, but for a reason. Ultimately no one wants it. Relationship Grade: Kramer is Kit Kat/10
Jason: Sue Ellen being Elaine’s Lex Luther is perfect. Where has Stan been this entire time? Kramer having a life coach is just what he needs. When did the O’Henry bar come into play during Jerry and Sue Ellen’s encounter. Did she eat it? Did he eat it? Did it come into use during foreplay? Relationship Grade: Ken Phelps/10
JT: George’s auto club scheme is a wily one; The idea of Kramer working the PSA Senior circuit is amazing; I love Jerry & George’s stereo “Stan the Caddy”; Sue Ellen’s “Just hanging out”; I enjoyed the vintage Elaine in college footage; The call back to the cabin being rebuilt is so good; Sue Ellen rocking the bra as a top is a great fuck you; Kramer immediately agreeing to go to the Bronx with Jerry always makes me laugh; Sue Ellen causing the crash is nice storyline continuity; Kramer counting on Stan for all his advice in life is perfect Kramer booking; Jackie Chiles is so awesome; Dr. Bison!; I like the ongoing saga of Jerry botching George’s schemes; Steinbrenner visiting the Costanzas is an all time epic scene; Good use of the word crumpled by Jerry; Peterman wanting to market the bra top is great payback to Elaine; Kramer’s “if they’re lucky” was an awesome line; Jerry melting down under oath is a nice callback to his Melrose Place fiasco; “Who the hell is Stan?”
Aaron: Anytime we get George scheming at work the laughs roll in. The entire storyline with the car works wonderfully and both George and George Steinbrenner have a strong outing. Truer words have never been spoken when George declares, “My presence in that office can only hurt my chances.” I love dismissive, intolerant Elaine. She has no patience for the men as they transparently lie about Sue Ellen being “shameless,” and she has less as Peterman confesses his love for the braless wonder. Jackie Chiles is a pleasure and not at all lewd, lascivious or outrageous. It’s also preposterous that this whole lawsuit that they’ve cooked up is getting a god damned jury trial. I’m also a big fan of the sounds of disgust from the courtroom as Jerry declares his love for Sue Ellen.
Andrew: Jerry and George trying too hard to act disgusted by the idea of a woman not wearing a bra is really funny, as is Elaine immediately walking out on it. It’s so great to see Jackie Chiles back, and the scene in his office is great, especially his description of Oh Henry! candy bars. The phone conversation about the fliers on George’s car is really good, and I thought Jerry’s “knock the phone off the cradle” trick was a nice touch. Kramer and Jerry arguing about the lawsuit is fantastic, and for once whiny Jerry got put to good use. Frank’s phone message about George’s supposed death is one of the greatest quick hits ever. And the trial caps the show off really well.
Jordan: Look, any scenario that involves George Costanza frantically scribbling notes because he can trade for Barry Bonds is good. I love this storyline because I always picture George’s house and bedroom. The guy is wheeling and dealing for the New York Yankees while sleeping in what is clearly a ten year old child’s bedroom set. Sue Ellen is awesome as a condescending frenemy to Elaine, and her response to the bra gift was awesome. The fact that it caught on and got put in Peterman’s catalogue was even better. Kramer telling Jerry he will go to the Bronx without hesitation is one of those random, no reason for it to be funny but it is anyway, type jokes. George’s whole deal of leaving his car at the stadium to get promotions was brilliant until Jerry ruined everything. Jackie and Frank in the same episode? YES PLEASE.
Jason: Kramer’s, “Hello boys!” Sue Ellen flopping down the street walking towards Elaine. Whilhelm and Stein thinking that George is pulling crazy hours because his car is always at the stadium. George and Jerry mocking Elaine’s issue with Sue Ellen not wearing a bra. The flashback to 70s Laney and Sue Ellen. Susan’s parents rebuilding the cabin! Sue Ellen swinging into Elaine’s office with the bra top. Jerry’s swift phone pick up when George calls him. George’s guilt trip about taking the fliers off of his car. The bird shit and flyers all over George’s car. Kramer and Jerry crashing George’s car after being distracted by Sue Ellen walking down the street. Stan throwing gold references around. Jackie was a beast listening to Kramer’s case; “Like taking candy from a baby!” George laying out Yankee trades at the cabin. Big Stein thinking George could be bleeding to death in the bullpen cracks me up every time. Kramer finding the O’Henry! wrapper in Jerry’s trash. Kramer and Jerry’s rant about being after sex and money. As I mentioned earlier, Frank going to town and Big Stein is pure gold; “You don’t know what the hell you’re doing!” George showing up to Stein’s office all banged up. Jerry caving in court. Stan’s idea for Sue Ellen to try on the bra. Jackie’s bra and glove line was killer. Elaine’s co-workers roaming around the off ice in bra tops was a brilliant payoff at the end.
What Didn’t Work
JT: Kind of a stupid plan by Jerry, wouldn’t it be better for the car not to be at Yankee Stadium at all instead of leaving it there all trashed
Aaron: Jerry made a piss poor effort to close the car door after he returned George’s wreck to the parking lot. He barely shoved it. Twice. Before sidling off like the pathetic weakling that he is. The closing line about the bra fitting like “a glove,” is the definition of forced to me. GET IT????? IT’S JUST LIKE JUICE! GET IT???? WE EVEN HAVE HIS LAWYER!!!! IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S THE EXACT SAME SCENARIO!!! HAHAHAHA!
Andrew: Hearing Elaine describe the five-head from her flashback as “a really cute guy” has me questioning her taste in men.
Jordan: I thought the trying on of the bra was kind of funny, but Jackie flat out describing what the joke was made it stupid. After watching seven seasons of the show and writing about it – I’ve come to realize the closing line/joke is probably the biggest weak spot of the show. Lots of misses, and this is a classic example.
Jason: Where did Kramer find a hanger to break into George’s car that fast?
Key Character Debuts
– Sue Ellen Mishke
– Stan the Caddy
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– “What are those, ah, cotton pants?” – Stan “Yeah…Why, is it too cold out?” – Kramer “Here’s what you do: you bring a lightweight jacket, that way the sun comes out, you play the jacket off the sweater.” – Stan
– “Oh, great. It’s the bra-less wonder. Who does she think she’s kidding? Look at her, she’s totally out of control.” – Elaine
– “Assistant to the General Manager!! You know what means? He’d could be askin’ my advice on trades! Trades, Jerry, I’m a heartbeat away!” – George “That’s a hell of an organization they’re running up there. I can’t understand why they haven’t won a pennant in 15 years.” – Jerry
– “Yeah, well I’m thinking about getting out of town with Susan for a few days…Her parents rebuilt the cabin!” – George “So, you’re just taking off from work?” – Jerry “They won’t know. I got the car there.” – George “Do you think this is such a good idea, with you being on the verge of this big promotion?” – Jerry “My presence, in that office, can only hurt my chances.” – George
– “Alright, this is what ya gotta do: I need ya to go out to the parking lot at Yankee Stadium, and take the flyers off my car.” – George “You know last time you had me throwin’ a rye bread up three floors to you, now you want me to go up to the Bronx, take flyers off your car, where does it end?” – Jerry “Alright, alright. I’ll drive the 4 hours each way, 6 hours all together, and take ’em off myself!!” – George “Alright, alright, I’ll do it!!” – Jerry
– “Do ya wanna go with me up to the Bronx and see if there’s any flyers on George’s car.” – Jerry “Sure!” – Kramer “I guess I coulda said just about anything there, couldn’t I?” – Jerry “Yep.” – Kramer
– “That’s the bra I gave here, she’s wearing it as a top! The woman is walking around in broad daylight with nothing but a bra on, she’s a menace to society.” – Elaine
– “Sue her?” – Kramer “Yeah, she’s loaded. She’s the heiress to the O’Henry candy bar fortune.” – Elaine “No, no, no, I can’t. I learned my lesson from that coffee company.” – Kramer “Kramer, listen to me. Listen! This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Your dreams have been shattered, somebody’s got to be held accountable. Come on, we’ll take for every penny she’s got!” – Elaine “What do you think, Stan?” – Kramer “Let’s go for the green! You know a good lawyer?” – Stan
– ” So we got an attractive woman, wearing a bra, no top, walking’ around in broad daylight. She’s flouting society’s conventions!” – Jackie “She was flouting.” – Kramer “That’s totally inappropriate. It’s lewd, vesivius, salacious, outrageous!” – Jackie
– “I think I got it. How ’bout this? How ’bout this? We trade Jim Leyritz and Bernie Williams, for Barry Bonds, huh? Whadda ya think? That way you have Griffey and Bonds, in the same outfield! Now you gotta team!” – George
– “As quickly as he came here, he’s gone. The poor little guy! Easy. Easy, big Stein, get it together.” – Steinbrenner
– “I see…Yessss. Little Miss Candy Bar paid a visit, didn’t she?” – Kramer “Kramer, it is not what you think.” – Jerry “Ah, Ah, Ahhhhh! I know what I think. I think you’re gaga over this dame. She’s twisted you around her little finger, and now, you’re willing to sell me, and Elaine, and whoever else you have to, right down the river.” – Kramer “And what about yooou?!? Tryin’ to bilk an innocent bystander out of a family fortune, built on sweat and toil, manufacturing quality O’Henry candy bars, for honest, hard-working Americans!” – Jerry “You’re just out for sex!” – Kramer “You’re just out for money!” – Jerry
– “Well, he’d been logging some pretty heavy hours, first one in in the morning, last one to leave at night. That kid was a human dynamo.” – Steinbrenner “Are you sure you’re talking about George?” – Estelle “You are Mr. and Mrs. Costanza?” – Steinbrenner “What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?!? He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year, he’s got a rocket for an arm, you don’t know what the hell you’re doin’!!” – Frank “Well, Buener was a good prospect, no question about it. But my baseball people love Ken Phelps’ bat. They kept saying ‘Ken Phelps , Ken Phelps’.” – Steinbrenner
– “Jerry, it’s Frank Costanza, Mr. Steinbrenner is here, George is dead, call me back!” – Frank
– “Aren’t you gonna tell your parents you’re still alive?” – Jerry “Nnnooo! They could use the break!” – George
– “Yeah, it’s me sir. It’s been a harrowing few days. After the car accident, I crawled into a ditch and managed to survive on grubs and puddle water, until a kindly old gentleman picked me up.” – George “Grubs, huh? Gotta admit, I never tasted one of those.” – Steinbrenner “Anyway, as I was lying in the puddle, I think I may have found a way for us to get Bonds and Griffey, and we wouldn’t have to give up that much.” – Steinbrenner
– “Alright, alright, I saw her! And she was beautiful in that bra! I’m crazy about her! I love her whole free swinging, free wheeling attitude!” – Jerry
– ” Damn fools! Look at that! We got nothin’ now, nothin’! I’ve been practicing law for 25 years, you’re listenin’
to a caddy! This is a public humiliation! You can’t let the defendant have control of the key piece of evidence. Plus, she’s trying it on over a leotard, of course a bra’s not gonna fit on over a leotard. A bra gotta fit right up a person’s skin, like a glove!” – Jackie
Oddities & Fun Facts
– The entire courtroom scene is a spoof of the infamous OJ Simpson trial
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
JT: There was a lot to like here, with some strong story weaving and killer lines, mainly from George, Frank and Jackie. Kramer was on point too, especially his face-to-face haranguing of Jerry before they went to court. Sue Ellen, hache mache, natch. Stan the Caddy is a great random character too and it makes perfect sense that Kramer would just listen to everything he says. This one was all about the guests as they blended in perfectly with the main cast to keep this humming along and delivering the laughs. It is just short of the top tiers, but it is a strong top of the bucket performer. Now, excuse me, I am going to grab my lightweight jacket to play off my sweater. Final Grade: 7/10
Aaron: I thought this was a good solid episode with a bunch of laughs but that final line just kills it for me. I’m penalizing it three strokes for being awful, blasphemous and disastrous. Final Grade: 4/10
Andrew: I forgot how much good stuff was packed into this one: Jackie Chiles, Steinbrenner, the Costanzas. I like everyone’s performances, the stories are memorable and entertaining, and most importantly it’s a really funny episode. I’ve really been enjoying this recent stretch. Final Grade: 8/10
Jordan: The episode is fine, but not pantheon level stuff. However, I will upgrade it a bit for the debut of Sue Ellen Mischke and a fun Frank appearance, screaming at Steinbrenner about Jay Buhner. Original grade is a 7, bonus point for that stuff. Final Grade: 8/10
Jason: Another great showing here. Storyline’s gelling together so well, the return of Jackie and the debut of Sue Ellen. I have very little to complain about here. Another solid showing from everyone in an episode that gets lost in the shuffle from an eventful season. Final Grade: 8/10