Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Chaperone” (S6, E1)

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!

seinchap

Best Character

JT: I had this one all teed up for Elaine…and then Kramer met Karen and we were off and running. The K-Man was a tour de force, completely overtaking Karen’s career and wrecking her potential relationship with Jerry in the process. His screaming bouts with Jerome were perfectly executed, as was his over the top training session and detective work. Tremendous performance. As was Elaine’s. She was great as the exasperated personal assistant, a role that suits her well as she does all she can to make this job work.

Aaron: “If you think I’m just going to step aside while you defile this woman, you’re crazy.” With that one line Kramer snatched victory from a crazed sock-waving Mr. Pitt. His absolute dedication to Miss Rhode Island was fantastic as was his declaration that the birds were murdered. There’s something about an animal being declared “murdered” that always makes me laugh. Perhaps I’m a sociopath.

Andrew: It’s close, but I think Elaine was the best. The “grace” conversation is great, and the goofy faces she makes in the diner conversation with Mr. Pitt always crack me up. And the growing frustration as she realizes she’s now working for a crazy person is really well played.

Jordan: Think I’m giving to Elaine this time. She was adorable on the phone call with Jerry, sadly having to pass up an Atlantic City romp with friends so she could pick out the perfect socks. She was hilarious as the exhausted, flustered employee.

Jason: Kramer was a force of nature as the chaperone and Karen’s personal consultant, but this episode belongs to Elaine. Her countering of Ms. Landis and frustration of Mr. Pitt was fantastic. Plus, she was incredibly attractive throughout the episode.

Best Storyline

JT: Miss America for sure, completely on the back of Kramer. He was a beast.

Aaron: Kramer: beauty pageant assistant. He suggested taping Texas’ breasts together, he insisted on a waist censure, all the while teaching us all a little something about poise.

Andrew: As much as I enjoy the Yankees and Mr. Pitt, I think the Miss America stuff makes for the best storyline. Mocking the whole “chaperone” thing is a great idea, and I enjoy the pivot into Kramer as pageant coach. And like most Rhode Islanders, I get a disproportionate amount of enjoyment out of seeing the state referenced on national TV. It’s funny because it’s small!

Jordan: Mr. Pitt and the Yankees are around for a while, so I feel comfortable passing them both up this time in favor of Kramer, Miss America Coach.

Jason: The uniform stuff with George was great, but Miss America takes it here. Kramer lead the way perfectly.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: We don’t find out if George gets blamed for the cotton uniforms, but it certainly isn’t his fault. Buck Showalter signed off on it and the equipment managers should have been more careful to not dry them. Plus, how did the players not notice before they took the field? Amateur work all around.

Aaron: If you have too much grace will you, in fact, not be able to stand. This is less a philosophical question as it is a scientific one. What does science tell us about the amount of grace in a person’s body in relation to the body’s ability to hold itself upright? Sadly we’ve wasted countless dollars on Global Warming and bringing people back from the dead rather than testing Justin Pitt’s hypothesis. This is the problem with the two-party system in America; the true issues are pushed behind a mountain of gay marriages and God damn Great Walls of Mexico. Not to say that the Canadian infinite party system is any better. The recent leadership debate descended into whether or not people should where hoods while becoming citizens instead of the real questions of grace vs. body weight or can a bird be fucked to death. It’s a sad system with no easy answers.

Andrew: Is the Miss America Pageant OK? Does publicly judging a bunch of women on their looks contribute to unhealthy cultural gender roles? I’m not sure that scholarships and a purported emphasis on community service are enough to argue for the competition’s continued existence. On the other hand, if not for the pageant, we wouldn’t have that “I personally believe that U.S. Americans …” video, and that would be a real shame.

Jordan: In response to his ridiculous standards, should Elaine have forced Mr. Pitt to eat the socks until he choked to death on them? I say yes.

Jason: When you’re at a baseball game and you get up during an inning you deserve to get booed by the people sitting behind you. Bad move here by Laney.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Jerry and Karen had no shot. She was good looking but Jerry needs someone a bit more feisty and much less formulaic. She was a bot, sent from the Ocean State to help win some respect and admiration. Respect and admiration that would eventually be stomped dead by Curt Schilling. Relationship Grade: 38/10

Aaron: I hate this category. Instead I’d like to share with you that on the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode that’s playing in the background Dennis Reynolds just smothered a woman with a pillow because her large breasts were “obliterated.” Classic Dennis. Relationship Grade: I’M WALKING ON SUNSHINE BY KATRINA AND THE WAVES SHOULD NEVER BE PLAYED IN THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS.

Andrew: I can totally understand George and Jerry’s excitement at the prospect of dating Miss America; you could get a lot of mileage out of that story. But the relationship itself doesn’t have much going for it. Relationship Grade: Six … No, five, but you were close/10

Jordan: Karen is the jewel of Rhode Island. She has trained doves, is gorgeous, and even though she can’t sing, she gives it the ol’ college try. Jerry is a man-whore whose only goal is to defile and probably SULLY, that’s right I said SULLY, her good name. Relationship Grade: SLEEP WITH PUTIN TO SAVE AMERICA/10

Jason: Karen was a hot mess from the get go. How did she make it that far as a contestant? What kind of a pageant operation are your fellow Rhode Island natives running up there, JT? Relationship Grade: Poise/10

What Worked:

JT: George’s first scene with Danny Tartabull makes this whole story idea worth it; Elaine wearing the Orioles hat in the box seats was an awesome callback; Jerry macking Miss Rhode Island was impressive; As was his singing the Miss America theme on the phone; Elaine dressed up as Jackie O landing her a gig with Mr. Pitt was a great bit; Elaine looking like a slob while Pitt compared her to Jackie O was funny too, as were the grace callbacks; Buck’s comment about Tartabull’s swing after George had given him tips was awesome; I love that they went all in and had so many Yankee cameos and bits, it was a nice touch; Kramer shutting down Jerry’s lecherous plans is a favorite of mine as is Jerry’s sarcastic “That’s a hell of a plan” response to Karen’s thoughts on world hunger; Kramer’s advice and expertise on the topic was a nice touch; George gloating over the player comments on cotton was funny; An early glimpse into Mr. Pitt’s eccentricities with the socks set us up nicely; Elaine’s dejected “I can’t go” was awesome; Kramer’s training class is perfect; Karen’s terrible singing put a bow on the whole present of goodness

Aaron: Mr. Pitt was a whirlwind of madness and unreason. His dedication to finding the perfect sock, while admirable, is clearly a dead end which can only end in depression and suicide. He was devastated to learn he might not get his new socks today. DEVASTATED. George’s adventures with the Yankees were great as was his dedication to get those poor players into that sweet, sweet cotton. Elaine’s job interview with the dickish lady going on about grace was about as Seinfeldian as you can get. Kramer’s stringent commitment to the rules of the beauty pageant leads to Jerry getting cockblocked (which is great) and two wonderful impassioned monologues. Mr. Pitt throwing socks wildly into the air will never get old.

Andrew: The beginning of George’s Yankee career, along with the resulting cameos, is delightful to see. I especially enjoyed him forcing Danny Tartabull to let him look at the uniform’s tag. The Kramer pageant stuff is excellent too, such as his refusing to allow Jerry to “defile this woman”, or suggesting a waist cincher (“Suck you right up!”). Mr. Pitt is off to a good start as Elaine’s latest employment frustration. And Jerry has some great dialogue, particularly the “Hi, Mr. Pitt! Is Elaine there?” phone call, and an excellent “That’s a shame” exchange with George.

Jordan: George Costanza, Yankee employee starts off with a bang, ruining Danny Tartabull’s swing and changing the uniforms. Elaine and Mr. Pitt also starts off strong – I particularly like him gazing adoringly at her while she sucks down a pop in the diner. Kramer taking over as pageant consultant is awesome. I love Karen telling him she does magic, and him asking her what number he’s thinking of. “No, 5…but you were close.” His POISE outburst is fun stuff too. I already mentioned it, but the sheer heartbreak from Elaine when she explains she has to return socks is good stuff. I wish we got Jerry’s end of the conversation, as there is virtually no way he would care about his friends sadness. Small stuff, but I like George wolfing down a chicken wing while they watch the pageant in the hotel room. Jerry’s excuse to Kramer was pathetic, but he seemed to think he was clever – “We had to put the water out there because it was making the room too cold!” said with a smug grin.

Jason: George working on Danny Tartabull’s swing with him, followed by George reaching for Danny’s uniform tag to check out the material. Elaine rocking her Orioles was a great throwback to, “The Letter”. Jerry’s one-liners when he meets Karen at the game were excellent. Jerry singing the Miss America them when he calls Karen at the hotel. Jerry’s, “Oh, shut the fuck up” to Kramer after he starts singing the theme. MRS. ONASSIS’S. I love Elaine’s resemblance to Jackie O when Mr. Pitt first meets her. Kramer knocking Ms. Rhode Island because they never win. Jerry’s, “Hi Mr. Pitt…” when he calls to speak with Elaine. Kramer taking control of Karen as her consultant was very well done. I big laugh when he shows Karen how to stage-walk. Great cameos from both Danny Tartabull and Buck Showalter. Elaine’s over the top frustration with Mr. Pitt and his socks was terrific. Jerry nailing his signature, “That’s a shame” after seeing the uniform pants split.

What Didn’t Work

JT: Ms. Landis sucks and I hate her opinions on grace and obsession with Jackie O; The shrinking of the cotton uniforms should be blamed on the equipment managers, not poor George

Aaron: I‘m never a fan when Jerry tries to pick up women. I’ve got to believe I live in a world where women don’t fall for stand up bits being thrown at them in the most artificial of manners. I also never got what the point of Jerry and George going to Atlantic City was since they didn’t even get to go to the Miss America event. Were they there just to murder the birds? That’s Dennis Reynolds level commitment to murder.

Andrew: The ending falls flat for me. The pageant performance isn’t good, but it isn’t bad enough to get a laugh, either. And the payoff to the uniform story is just OK. Maybe a more explicit “shrinkage” callback would have helped?

Jordan: I don’t think anything was too egregious here. If I’m forced to choose, I would have changed the ending. Rather than go out with a bad talent, Karen should have been asked the question about sleeping with a world leader to save America, given the answer Kramer wanted, then gotten booed off stage. Either that, or some sort of talent duo WITH Kramer. Her bad singing just wasn’t enough.

Jason: Ms. Landis is quite the snooty bitch. Mr. Pitt and his awful white socks with dress pants. C’mon J. Pitt! Black, navy blue or brown.

Key Character Debuts

Karen, Miss Rhode Island

Mr. Pitt

Danny Tartabull

Buck Showalter

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Hot dog?” – Jerry “No, thanks. I’m watching my weight.” – Miss RI “Ah. I’m watching my height. My doctor doesn’t want me to get any taller. So you’re Miss, uh…” – Jerry “Rhode Island. ” – Miss RI “I was almost Mr. Coffee. They felt I was a little too relaxed.” – Jerry

– “You can’t have “a little grace.” You either have grace, or you…don’t.” – Landis “OK, fine, I have…no grace.”- Elaine “And you can’t acquire grace.” – Landis “Well, I have no intention of “getting” grace.” – Elaine “Grace isn’t something you can pick up at the market.” – Landis “Alright, alright, look – I don’t have grace, I don’t want grace…I don’t even say grace, O.K.?” – Elaine

– “I’m going out with one of the Miss America contestants, you wanna go?” – Jerry “What state?” – Kramer “Rhode Island.” – Jerry “They’re never in contention.” – Kramer “How do you know?” – George “Because I’ve seen every Miss America pageant since I was six.” – Kramer

– “Yeah. Cotton breathes, you see, it’s much softer. Imagine playing games and your team is five degrees cooler than the other team. Don’t you think that would be an advantage? They’re cooler, they’re more comfortable …they’re happier – they’re gonna play better.” – George

– “Look, if you think I’m just going to step aside and do nothing while you defile this woman, you’re crazy.” – Kramer “I’m not going to “defile” her!” – Jerry “That’s right, because I’m going to see it doesn’t happen. Look, Jerry, these girls are Miss America contestants. It’s every little girl’s dream. And I’m not going to let you trample that dream and make a mockery of everything the pageant stands for.”- Kramer “But – ” – Jerry “AAAH! No buts! Those are my rules.” – Kramer “But wait a minute…” – Jerry “Now, if you want to go out and have some good, wholesome fun with a nice girl, I’d be glad to help you out…if you’re looking for something more than that, you’ve got the wrong guy, buddy!” – Kramer

– “Kramer, would you consider being my personal consultant for the pageant?” – Karen “Okay. But if I’m going to do this, we play by my rules or we don’t play at all.” – Kramer

– “Well, let me tell you something. I’m taking this kid to the top. To the top, Jerry! We’re going for the crown, and you can’t stop her!” – Kramer

– “Let’s try a few more questions, alright? <Karen stands up.> If you were Miss America, and the U.S. was on the brink of a nuclear war, and the only way the conflict could be averted was if you agreed to sleep with the enemy’s leader, what would you do?” – Kramer “Kramer, are these questions really that important…?” – Karen “Yes, they’re important! If you stumble, if you hesitate, you can kiss the crown goodbye. Now if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times – poise counts! It’s just as important as the others. Swimsuit! Evening wear! Talent! POISE!”- Kramer

– “Yeah, birds. She’s got these trained doves, she does this magic act, that was her talent for the pageant. You know what I think, Jerry? I think somebody murdered those doves. Somebody wanted her out of that contest bad. Somebody who was just eaten up with jealousy. Somebody who just couldn’t stand to have the spotlight taken off of them!” – Kramer “What are you looking at? Oh, that! We had to leave that outside, last night, because the water was making the room too cold.” – Jerry “You killed them, didn’t you?” – Kramer “No, you don’t understand – it’s not what you think! It was an accident!” – Jerry “Well, don’t think you’ve won, because you haven’t! This kid is a fighter! And if you think I’m gonna let a couple of dead birds get in our way, you’re crazy!” – Kramer

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Elaine is wearing an Orioles hat in the box seats at Yankee Stadium, a callback to “The Letter” (S3, E21)

– Miss Alabama Heather Whitestone would win the Miss America 1995 pageant on September 17, 1994. She was the first deaf Miss America.

– Major League Baseball went on strike on August 11, 1994 and no other games were played that year. This episode aired on September 22, 1994. Also, because the Miss America pageant occurred on September 17, that means no Yankee game could have happened on that date.

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: Season six is underway with a strong opening offering. I love how they really dove into George’s job and had all the Yankee cameos threaded throughout as it adds some realism to the show. It was a nice coup that shows with less gravitas may not be able to pull off. Elaine was tremendous throughout and her being so dejected and self loathing has been a good twist, from her pissing on grace to weeping openly in a pile of socks, she brought the goods. Kramer was a man on fire, carrying this one on his back and single-handedly raising the grade for me. The Miss America storyline felt a little aimless but once he got involved, it ratcheted up into an all time great series of scenes. Things have changed in the lives of the Core Four, but one thing remains: the show is still fantastic. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: This was a really good start to season six. I had at least three big laughs where I almost woke my sleeping family and incurred the wrath of a furious wife. The writing was strong with the exception of the pickup and the hole of why Jerry and George were at the Taj Mahal. Slight flaws aside this one’s got POISE! Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: This is a solid episode, with some memorable moments, but we’ve seen better. I don’t love the ending, but there are some solid laughs here, and the debut of Mr. Pitt, along with the start of the Yankees cameos, have me looking forward to what’s ahead. Not a big winner, but certainly a promising start to the new season. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: This is a good start. We establish some new careers for half the gang, while the other half is up to their usual stuff. A nice combo. I actually like that they didn’t go overboard with the Yankees stuff and are just gradually progressing. Really good job of setting the stage for things to come. As a standalone episode though, it is not the absolute best. Final Grade: 6/10

Jason: Oh, hey Season Six. A solid start to the season premiere. George wastes no time getting his feet wet with the Yankees. The Miss America stuff was excellent with decent supporting plots from the uniforms and Elaine becoming Mr. Pitt’s assistant. Kramer continues to shine with everything he does. I’m really looking forward to this season as a whole. Will it live up to the powerhouse that was Season Five? We’ll find out in the upcoming weeks. Final Grade: 7/10