Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Dinner Party” (S5, E13)

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: I have to go with a tie here between Jerry and George. George’s coat was so absurd and his war on party gifts and double parkers was tremendous and valiant. Jerry was really good here too with his outlandish rants and stories on multiple occasions. Elaine and Kramer were really good too, but I thought they were just a step behind.

Aaron: If all you need for a good time is a Penthouse Forum and a Clark bar you are a man free of inhibitions and full of happiness. Kramer is that man.

Andrew: This was an excellent ensemble effort, but I enjoyed Kramer the most. I’m jealous of his ability to venture out and trust that he’ll “get by” without a wallet. I admire his refusal to double-park. And I find his fascination with the Penthouse Forum very entertaining.

Jordan: I seriously thought about giving it to Saddam, but Kramer is the best here. It’s a real shame for Jerry, because he was very solid throughout, but when the K-Man dominates, nobody stands a chance. Buying the Penthouse was the clincher. He doesn’t use a wallet, he gets hypothermia, he nails everything this time!

Jason: Much like, “The Cigar Store Indian”, EVERYONE wins here! The core four, the bakery counterwoman, the old man in the bakery, the liquor store guy, the newsstand guy, the Benedicts, the foreign guy on the street, “Saddam Hussein”, babka, no hair, for everybody!

Best Storyline

JT: George’s coat. He looked stupid. He acted stupid. He broke wine. He lost his jacket. Look to the jacket.

Aaron: George`s worship of Gore-Tex is the sort of thing lesser men build religions around. Sure there are fewer men lesser than George but you get the idea,

Andrew: Elaine’s futile pursuit of bakery justice was my favorite. She has an understandable desire to be served in the order in which she arrived, but making that plea for fairness ends up costing her so much more. Just another proletarian crushed in the gears of capitalism.

Jordan: I’m tempted to go with the bakery stuff as Jerry and Elaine in pure misery was a lot of fun, but it’s George’s coat. He looks like a moron, spills wine, nearly starts an international incident and keeps defending it. It’s Gore-Tex!

Jason: George and Kramer’s adventure is fantastic, but Jerry and Elaine’s bakery saga takes it here. The amount of stuff that goes wrong for them in there is astonishing. Forgetting to pick a number, bumping into the Benedicts, finding a hair in the babka, Elaine getting her foot smashed by a cane, Jerry’s vomit streak ending. I wonder how the marble rye is there?

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: If you walk into a busy bakery and forget to take a number, is it OK to ask people to let you cut? No way. Pay attention to your surroundings! If someone notices you and offers, fine. But to beg? Have some dignity, Laney.

Aaron: Can a cookie solve the world`s race issues? I wish it were that simple because you’d think that once you saw the inherent harmony within the cookie people like the KKK would throw down their ropes in a frenzy of tolerance. Unfortunately people usually prefer the racist, sexist taste of chocolate chips. Such is the nightmare of our modern world.

Andrew: Do people still bring wine to parties? I have literally never done this, but etiquette has never been my strong suit. Now that I’m a semi-responsible adult, is this something I need to start doing? What a nightmare. Don’t get old, kids.

Jordan: I’d be more than OK with someone showing up to my party with Pepsi and ring dings, but if it’s a little fancier, do you HAVE to bring that much stuff? Wine should be more than enough, but wine AND a babka? AND a Penthouse forum? I feel like these people are throwing parties for profit.

Jason: Should you have to bring something when you’re invited to a party? ABSOLUTELY! George’s cheapness is a work of art.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Pepsi and Ring Dings. A match made in heaven. The cola goodness and the chocolate heaven. What party wouldn’t benefit from that combo? Calories be damned. Health be damned. Enjoy your life by swinging with the whippets junk food couple in all the land. George now loves the Drake’s. Relationship Grade: Drake’s/10

Aaron: Can we just let Kramer live out his fantasies without the shame? Relationship Grade: I won’t quantify a man’s feelings.

Andrew: Jerry’s so excited for his black-and-white cookie, he constructs a fantastic story about why it’s so important to him, only to end up devastated in a public restroom. I’ve had relationships like that. Relationship Grade: Fourteen years down the drain/10

Jordan: The hot slutty housewife and the amputee is a story for the ages. Romeo and Juliet for the perverts of our time. Relationship Grade: PENTHOUSE/10

Jason: When George and Kramer are left alone, it almost never ends well. George being afraid of Elaine is great. It’s always a treat when everyone gives George shit about something. Well represented here with the Gore-Tex coat and his cheapness. Relationship Grade: Clark Bar/10

What Worked:

JT: The “scary cold” comment into George’s gore-tex appearance was awesome as was Jerry and Elaine smacking the giant coat; The Bubble Boy callback was good; George’s ranting about bringing stuff to a party was completely and perfectly in character, as was his dedication to Pepsi; The throwaway gag about the funeral procession made me chuckle; The babka!; Kramer sticking George with buying the wine was great and just torturous to George; Jerry ripping all the desserts was well done and his cinnamon rant was terrific; Kramer digging into the Clark Bar before George even agrees to buy it; Penthouse Forum!: The random guy yelling at George about his coat in some foreign language is absurd; Jerry nodding to the black guy about the cookie was a nice touch; George’s rants on society always hold a special place in my heart; George yelling at the wrong guy was good for a laugh; Angry Elaine is the best Elaine; The Sadaam Hussein bit was so bizarre that it came back around to funny; The final scene was a great payoff

Aaron: The Gore-Tex coat and everything involved was phenomenal as was George’s completely understandable fear of Elaine. She is a monster after all. Also, Monster Elaine always makes me smile. The lecture on race relations and the breaking down and rating of desserts is exactly the kind of thing I want out of my Seinfeld episodes. One of my favorite Seinfeld tropes rears it’s head again as everyone they deal with are beautifully unreasonable.

Andrew: “Babka” is a wonderfully funny word, and I don’t think I ever would have realized that, if not for this episode. Jerry’s theories on the black-and-white cookie are the most enduring part of the episode, but I’ve always been more interested in Kramer’s out-of-nowhere fascination with the Penthouse Forum. George’s Gore-Tex jacket is a great plot device, looking wonderfully ridiculous and leading to some funny interactions, like the “big coat!” guy or Jerry and Elaine smacking him around. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Jerry’s “hair in the farina” story, I had never really noticed it before. The vomit streak callback was nice, I like George being scared of Elaine, and the random appearance of a Saddam lookalike was pleasantly absurd.

Jordan: I love George’s fear of Elaine. I also love that he was once late to something because he bought a Panama hat! George’s coat is a great plotline and totally fitting of George. He looked ridiculous, and nobody else would look believable wearing it, but it makes sense for George. Jerry singing the praises of the black and white cookie and comparing it to race relations is good, and made better by the ending where it makes him puke. I LOVE the “Soooorrrry” from the guy who smashes Elaine’s foot with the cane. So weird sounding and random. George and Kramer in the liquor store and the newsstand have excellent chemistry – George frets and overthinks about everything, Kramer doesn’t have a care in the world. I like that George tries to break $100 by buying a pack of gum, which probably cost 50 cents back then. Kramer buying the Penthouse and suggesting he could read it aloud at the party is awesome. The guy bumping into George and getting furious and saying, “BIG COAT!” is good stuff too. And of course, Saddam. I love Saddam randomly appearing here and having a British accent. So much I didn’t even mention.

Jason: So much enjoyment here. Jerry and Elaine slapping George’s coat. George arguing that Pepsi is better than wine. Jerry calling George “bubble boy”. George’s suggestion to buy a nice sectional couch for the party host. Jerry’s bit about the black & white cookie and cinnamon are brilliant. Jerry asking Elaine to carry the bakery box because it’s a tad dainty. The bit about carrot, black forest and Napoleon cakes. Kramer yelling and asking if anyone can change a hundred in the middle of the street. Kramer reading from the Penthouse Forum. Jerry’s vomit streak ending following his bit about the black & white is excellent. Big laughs for his hair in the Farina story. George and Kramer at the newsstand might be the best scene in this episode that had so many laughs. The end is excellent. Here’s you’re fucking cake and wine. We’re outta here!

What Didn’t Work

JT: Jerry’s slacks and sweater combo is brutal; Elaine is quite wrong about not taking a number in the bakery, that is on them, not anyone else; David is really annoying and I always hated the awkward “I know you” sequence; What the hell was up with the guy with the cane?

Aaron: Dude with a cane needs to be killed. Maybe by Kane? Too inside? How about by The Scranton Strangler? Still? Ok just have Optimus Prime kill him.

Andrew: Why the weird dubbing for Saddam? Was it that hard to find an actor who looks like Saddam, and can fake a British accent?

Jordan: The liquor store guy was kind of a punk for making them stand outside when Kramer didn’t have a winter coat on. I also thought Elaine thinking she should get to go ahead of everyone because she forgot to pull a number was selfish.

Jason: The guy with the cane was a major jerk. Jerome and Laney have no one to blame but themselves for not taking a number when they got to the bakery.

Key Character Debuts

– N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “This week. My father got a deal from a friend of his. It’s Gore-Tex. You know about Gore-Tex?” – George “You like saying Gore-Tex, don’t you?” – Jerry

– “You mean just going there because I’m invited, that’s rude?” – George “Yeah.” – Elaine “So you’re telling me instead of being happy to see me they’re going to be upset because I didn’t bring anything. You see what I’m saying?” – George “The fabric of society is very complex George.” – Jerry “I don’t even drink wine. I drink Pepsi.” – George “You can’t bring Pepsi.” – Elaine “Why not?” – George “Because we’re adults?” – Elaine “You telling me that wine is better than Pepsi? Huh, no way wine is better than Pepsi.” – George “I’m telling you George, I don’t think we want to walk in there and put a big plastic jug of Pepsi on the table.” – Jerry “I just don’t like the ideas that every time there is a dinner invitation there’s this annoying little chore that goes along with it.” – George “You know, you’re getting to be an annoying little chore yourself.” – Jerry

– “And I got news for you. I show up with Ring Dings and Pepsi, I become the biggest hit at the party. People be coming up to me, “just between you and me I’m really excited about the Ring Dings and the Pepsi. Europeans with the Beaujolais and Chardonnay…” – George

– “Why don’t YOU go into the store and I’LL wait in the car?” – Kramer “Because, I’ve got the coat. I can sit in the car and not get cold.” – George “So what I’m going to leave the car running and the heater’ll be on.” – Kramer “Does the heater even work in this car?” – George “No.” – Kramer

– “Because I don’t like to carry my wallet. My osteopath says it’s bad for my spine. It throws my hips off kilter.” – Kramer

– “That’s cinnamon babka.” – Bakery Clerk “Another babka?” – Jerry

– “No, but they got the chocolate. We’ll be going in with a lesser babka.” – Elaine “I beg your pardon? Cinnamon takes a back seat to no babka. People love cinnamon. It should be on tables at restaurants along with salt and pepper. Anytime anyone says, “Oh This is so good. What’s in it?” The answer invariably comes back, Cinnamon. Cinnamon. Again and again. Lesser babka – I think not.” – Jerry

– “You know there is an unusual number of people in this country having sex with AMPUTEES! . . . Penthouse forum, newspaper, gum, Clark Bar.” – George

– “Uhm, The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite. Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate And yet somehow racial harmony eludes us. If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.” – Jerry “Your views on race relations are fascinating. You really should do an op-ed piece for the Times.” – Elaine “Um, um, Look to the cookie Elaine. Look to the cookie.” – Jerry

– “What is wrong with my hair? Nothing. Nobody takes better care of their hair than me. You can serve dinner on my head.” – Elaine “Who needs misty herbal rain water crap they sell in the health food store. I use Prell, the hard stuff. A hundred proof – takes your roots out.” – Jerry

– “I know this is going to sound like a crazy fantasy but every word of this story is true…” [exits to street] ” A weeks days ago my girlfriend happened to mention to me how attractive our new neighbor Linda was…” – Kramer “Look at this? Somebody double parked and blocked us in. DOES ANYBODY KNOW WHOSE CAR THAT IS? Maybe there’s a note on it. No, no note. Can you believe this?” – George “…well of course I noticed it too with those ample breasts and those pouty lips. I don’t have to tell you she was a knock out….” – Kramer

– “I mean we can put a man on the moon but we’re basically still very stupid. The guy who’s car this is? He could be one of the guys who built the rocket. You see what I’m saying?” – George “Yeah, he could build the rocket but he’s still stupid for double-parking and blocking somebody in.” – Kramer “So you really understand my point about building a rocket and double-parking.” – George “Yeah, on one hand he’s smart with rockets and on the other part he’s dumb with parking…It’s cold out here huh?” – Kramer

– “I started screaming, “There’s a hair in my farina. There’s a hair in my farina.” Then I ran out of the house and I was running and running. I was little but I could run very fast. I just kept running and they found me like three hours later collapsed at a construction site.” – Jerry

– “You sold us a hair with a cake around it!” – Elaine

– “I think I got David Duke and Fahrikan down there.” – Jerry “Well if we can’t look to the cookie where can we look?” – Elaine “I feel like I’m going to throw up.” – Jerry “Hey, what about your vomit streak?” – Elaine “I know, I haven’t thrown up since June 29th, 1980.” – Jerry

– “So what did you get?” – George “Cinnamon babka.” – Elaine “Cinnamon? Why didn’t you get chocolate?” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry calls George “Bubble Boy” in a season four callback

– The crew visits Schnitzer’s Bakery for the first time

– Black and white cookies, babka and Gore-Tex coats catch on in pop culture

– David is portrayed by Mark Holton, who also portrayed Francis Buxton in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This was another really great episode with lots of laughs and memorable moments and a few pop culture crossover bits too. I also like the callbacks blended in here with the Bubble Boy and Jerry’s vomit streak. George’s rantings were really well done and even though he bends on his cheapness, he gets caught up in the end and it costs him his beloved coat. Kramer’s dalliance with the Penthouse Forum is great as well. Season Five continues to bring the goods each and every week. Look to the cookie, folks. Final Grade: 9/10

Aaron: How can you not dig an episode where Kramer loves Penthouse, George looks like a balloon and Saddam Hussein shows up for some reason? Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: The show has been so good during this run, that I hadn’t realized how much I missed the “about nothing” episodes. This was a well-executed return to that form, with the story consisting entirely of the gang trying to get to a party, and the humor coming from their day-to-day interactions with other people. It’s still amazing to me how good the show is at that, when I take the time to appreciate it. Final Grade: 9/10

Jordan: This is an episode that I really like not because of the plot itself but because of all the stuff along the way. I don’t really care about dinner party etiquette or bakery number pulling, but I love George waddling around like the Michelin Man and Kramer reading porn while munching on a Clark bar. Jerry and Elaine are always good together and their growing frustration over a babka was a nice counterpart to George and Kramer. Excellent stuff. Final Grade: 9/10

Jason: When I’m in the mood to throw on a random episode in the series, this offering always works. Jerry was on his A game the entire time with some tremendous bits. Tons of laughs the entire way with some great product name dropping. There’s a reason why this is the greatest show of all time and why this season is so enjoyable. I could watch this episode a hundred times and laugh the entire way every time. I put this episode in a tier just under the elite perfect episodes. Final Grade: 9/10