Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Dog” (S3, E3)

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!

seindog

Best Character

Justin: Kramer takes this one in a walk. Even though he was only in a few scenes, the competition was quite weak, so his break up speech and subsequent crawling back was more than enough to get my vote. George and Elaine did some fine work when they were forced to be friends in a direct manner and Jerry yelling at the dog was solid stuff, but there was no complete package this time around.

Aaron: No clear cut choice for me here. No one is really weak but no one is exceptionally strong either. While everyone had some pretty solid moments I’ll go with who gave me the biggest laugh and that’s once again Kramer. I suppose I’m something of a creature of habit but his breakup and subsequent pleading cracked me up the most. The fact that this guy is saying that someone else “contributes nothing to society” is either hilariously hypocritical or speaks volumes to the quality of Ellen’s character. I love how he’s seemingly oblivious to social norms when he’s surprised his friends didn’t tell him she was a horrible shrew.

Andrew: Kramer takes best character in this one. He may not have a major role in the episode, but runs through an impressive range of emotional states in his limited screen time. I loved his glee at the idea of breaking up with his girlfriend, the emotional reconciliation, turning his back on Jerry for bad-mouthing her, how defeated he looks when she yells at him, and the way he sheepishly admits they’ve broken up again. I’m a little worried about his ability to regulate his emotions, but he was easily the funniest character.

Jordan: Jerry gets my vote here, and all it took was yelling repeatedly at an off screen dog. Really though, he was solid right from the start. I like how the passenger is lying on the floor of the plane being attended to and Jerry couldn’t care any less as he reads his magazine. He hates the dog which started annoying but turned out to be OK. What sealed it for me was his response to George and Elaine frantically trying to get him to use the bathroom at the movies rather than his own home – the eyeroll was the clincher. For the rest, George just seemed to be a role player here. I didn’t dig the Kramer break up, and Elaine may have gotten it except for something I’ll mention in the “What Didn’t Work” section later on.

Best Storyline

Justin: I guess I will go with Kramer dumping his shitty girlfriend and then crawling back right afterwards. It only lasted a few scenes, but I really liked how he was mad that Jerry and Elaine didn’t tell him how much she sucked but once they get back together, he is really pissed off at them for everything they discussed. The dog storyline just annoyed me because it was really unrealistic and dumb of Jerry to do what he did. George & Elaine’s awkward non-chemistry was good too, but nothing that would stand out over the long term.

Aaron: George and Elaine: Friends in Law. What a great concept for a storyline. I think everyone has felt the sting of having to sit with someone you have nothing in common with a draw out a conversation with them. It’s so insanely truthful that they can only connect through mocking Jerry as their probably the only people who share that bond of knowing him the way they do. The fear they showed at the mere threat of Jerry going to the bathroom and leaving them alone was palpable, and you can totally understand why George would want to go back to Jerry “throwing up” to escape the awkwardness. Speaking of awkwardness, the use of the sounds of draining the tea into her cup and George playing with the squeaking toy were great little moments that only added to the tension. Elaine needing to talk about why they have nothing to talk about was a fitting cap to a strong story.

Andrew: I really liked George and Elaine’s storyline. They really nailed the sheer terror one can experience at the thought of having to hang out with someone you don’t have anything in common with. They both obviously dread the idea, but don’t feel comfortable saying it to each other. I especially liked Elaine’s crazed bargaining with Jerry to get him to come out with them. Throw in them bonding over making fun of Jerry, and I’m definitely on board with this one.

Jordan:  Definitely the George and Elaine awkwardness. It’s a situation people can relate to, we all have “friends” who are really just friends by association of another friend, and if you remove that connector, there’s nothing, and just like the episode here: awkward. I really liked their scene together in the diner (even though it was empty for some reason) where they struggled to find anything to talk about and finally came alive when the conversation turned to the one thing they have in common: Jerry.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Are you in any obligated to dogsit for a complete stranger just because you happened to sit next to its owner on an airplane? No. The answer is no. It also seemingly cost Jerry money, as it stopped him from performing gigs. With that settled, what is your role in sharing your perception of their significant other? This is one where you should probably go on a case by case basis. Are they serious? Is he or she really fucking awful? Are they causing legit strife on your friend’s life? Or are they just ugly and chew really loudly? Sliding scale.

Aaron: How long should you keep a dog in your home for a friend before you kill it? I guess it would depend on how big the dog was and how it behaved? If it was constantly barking then I could see killing it within a handful of hours. If it was quiet and respectful I can see keeping it for a day or two before cooking.

Andrew: Is it OK to make fun of a mutual friend behind their back? As someone who does this all the time, I want to say yes, but as someone who spends way too much time worrying about what people are saying about me, I understand why it might not be. In the end, I think it’s on par with complaining about a spouse; the important thing is to think of it as venting, and remember that there are good things that balance out the bad. Viewed in that light, I think it’s fine to make some jokes at a friend’s expense. At least, that’s what I tell myself so that I can sleep at night.

Jordan: My immediate thought is the whole dogsitting issue – but realistically, this situation would never happen, so how about this one? If you and a friend make plans to see a movie together, but YOU cancel, and they wait to see it with you, aren’t you under the same obligation to do it for them if the roles are reversed? Elaine passes on Prognosis Negative because Jerry can’t go, and settles on Ponce de Leon (she pronounces it De-Lee-On for some reason) with George. Then, when Elaine can’t go, Jerry and George…SEE PROGNOSIS NEGATIVE ANYWAY! Bad form, Seinfeld! This is probably why they broke up!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Kramer and Ellen was the only romantic relationship on display and it seems really super unhealthy on a few levels. We can also talk about George and Elaine who basically had a brutal first date and then can’t bear to be left alone together for even just a minute later on. They played the awkward card really well and it is funny watching them not act as much as a group of close friends but more as just general acquaintances with a common friend.  Relationship Grade: Kramer & Elaine 1/10

Aaron: Gavin and Farfel clearly have something great going on. Clearly such an enriching experience deserves a ten on ten. I’d like to dig a bit deeper though before handing out tens willy nilly. If Gavin was so fond of his pet then surely he would have come to pick him up earlier. Why didn’t he? Bell’s Palsy? Well I’m sorry my friend, but anyone who’s watched wrestling for years can spot a faker a mile away. Gavin Palone was clearly cheating on Farfel. The kicker is that Farfel knew, why else would he have barked so much. Gavin is a dirty, drunken cheat. Fuck him, Farfel’s a great catch. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Andrew: Kramer and Ellen didn’t have much of a future, but…such passion! A woman who could put Kramer through such an emotional roller-coaster must have something going for her. Relationship Grade: 4/10

Jordan: Kramer and Ellen was a thing I guess, but we never even saw Ellen, just heard her shrill voice. Kramer is unhappy. Similarly, Jerry and Farfel was a thing I guess, but we never even saw Farfel, just heard his loud voice. Jerry is unhappy. But have we stumbled upon the beginning of a whirlwind romance in George and Elaine? Could their mutual mocking of Jerry puking be the starting of something beautiful? In a word, no. Relationship Grade: FARFEL/10

What Worked

Justin: Elaine teasing Jerry about picking up dog shit was good; Jerry angrily yelling at the dog always cracks me up; This is one of the few times the standup part made me laugh than most of the episode; George and Elaine struggling to get through coffee was good in a really awkward way and funny to see knowing how things progress; Kramer’s break up speech was epic and well delivered, including his pathetic begging to be taken back; It was also funny how George and Elaine can only connect through talking shit on Jerry; Jerry and Elaine backtracking on what they said about Ellen was well played, including Kramer basically writing them off as friends because of it

Aaron: I loved the juxtaposition and the cuts between Kramer’s break up, George and Elaine’s awkward dinner and Jerry fighting Farfel. Great job on the editing and pacing there that help build the tension and the laughs up big time. As someone who recently bought a puppy (don’t call animal services on me) I can totally relate to just wanting the dog to shut up. I don’t want to show my son how much I hate the dog so hearing them scream at him was quite cathartic for me. While the three stories were very thinly connected I thought they complimented each other quite well and it was especially great to see more of George and Elaine together. Elaine’s delivery of, “Oh my God the dog guy.” was absolutely priceless, as was Jerry’s “I’m surprised no one’s killed her yet.” Another great guest star with Gavin Palone being pretty funny during his brief screen time. Another wonderful cameo by Larry David as Farfel.

Andrew: I really liked the first montage cutting between the three main stories; using Jerry’s and Kramer’s emotional struggles as contrast to Elaine and George’s deathly awkward conversation makes everything more effective. I liked seeing more of a focus on social commentary, ranging from hanging out with a friend of a friend, to watching what you say about a friend’s ex, to breaking a promise to see a movie with someone. And unexpectedly, I really liked the boozehound dog owner, Gavin. I know he was supposed to come across as overbearing and unpleasant, but I just wanted to get a drink with the guy. I may have to do some self-reflection after this episode.

Jordan: Jerry was good in every scenario, let’s look at his stat line for this episode: He didn’t care that a man may have been dying, he verbally abused a dog, he rolled his eyes condescendingly at his friends, he berated his friend’s girlfriend BEFORE he dumped her, and he coldly saw Prognosis Negative without Elaine. An all-star performance from Jerome. I already touched on George and Elaine in the diner, and really, that’s about it for me this time. I like the movie titles, which of course will become running themes throughout the show’s run. Ponce de Leon would be an AWFUL movie. Oh yeah, I also love George answering the buzz every time with “Prog-nosis Negative!” in a robot voice.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: There is an absurdly amount of room on the plane, which took me out of the scene a bit; The premise is odd here, why would Jerry ever agree to this; I can never tell if George and Elaine mispronounce Ponce de Leon on purpose? Either way it bugs me; Jerry’s attempts to do bits within scenes are still really hit or miss; Farfel and his owner are both real pieces of shit; Did Gavin actually have Bell’s Palsy or was he lying? He seems like a big liar.

Aaron: I had an ex-girlfriend once who had a saying, “blue and green should never be seen, except for in the washing machine.” While she was totally wrong and at fault about everything, I couldn’t help but think of her when I saw Jerry’s blue shirt tucked into his green pants. So as much as I’d like to call her out for being the foolish troglodyte that she was, she may have had something there. I guess we could have had more Kramer in this one, but that may just be me wanting a Kramer sitcom which doesn’t involve him playing a bumbling detective. Also, this isn’t really something that didn’t work but did anyone else notice how small Jason Alexander’s feet are? It’s like he has hooves (perhaps foreshadowing the pig man???).

Andrew: The episode loses momentum after that first great montage, and ending with Jerry being forced to see Prognosis Negative again was weak. It’s not fair to penalize it for having a great first half, but it does feel like a letdown when an episode peaks early. The dog-sitting plot was a bit too much of a “wacky sitcom” storyline for my tastes.

Jordan: OK, here’s my big gripe: Where does Elaine get off? This dog is clearly a TERROR and Jerry doesn’t even know the owner, so why not take it to a kennel? Yet Elaine is so worried about how the dog will be treated there, so how about this Elaine? TAKE THE DOG TO YOUR PLACE! At least she watched the dog for Jerry, but she ended up treating Farfel as bad as she claimed the kennel would! That really irked me, and almost made it alright that Jerry saw Prognosis Negative without her. I also really didn’t like the Kramer break up – the fact that he was just speaking directly to a camera was very weird and didn’t seem to fit at all. It seemed like they were shoehorning him into the episode. Also, the show is still struggling with set design for scenes outside the apartment and Monk’s. Kramer’s girlfriend’s place was bare walls and some curtains, and Jerry appeared to be flying in the worlds largest plane. Forget leg room, there was enough space for the guy to lay on the floor!!

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “What is a bender anyhow?” – Elaine “I don’t know…they drink and they bend things at the bar?” – Jerry

– “Two hundred seats on a plane, I need to wind up next to Yukon Jack and his dog Cujo!” – Jerry

– Jerry & Elaine want to see Prognosis Negative

– “It’s not my dog…I don’t know where this booze hound is!” – Jerry

– “You better pick your dog up tonight or he has humped his last leg!” – Elaine

– “Mutt? I’ll wager his parents are more pure than yours!” – Kramer

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry flies first class

– Elaine considers George a “friend-in-law”

– George & Elaine talk about what Jerry is like when he vomits

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This one was a major step back here in season three. After a solid start, this felt like a storyline idea that should have been left on the cutting room floor. It didn’t make much sense and was too absurd to really buy into. Jerry was an idiot for taking the dog and then keeping custody of him. I know you don’t want to ship the dog to the pound but it really wasn’t his responsibility to go through all that. There were very few memorable lines and the only moments that really rang true to me were Kramer waffling on his break up, George and Elaine only able to talk when bashing Jerry and Jerry and Elaine debating how to make chocolate milk. Everything else just felt forced and ham-fisted. Final Grade: 3/10

Aaron: I felt everyone was good but not great in this one. The story was fine and I genuinely laughed a few times. Not a brilliant outing but a very easy half an hour to sit through. I definitely see that WOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOFWOOF! Final Grade: 4/10

Andrew: I really liked this one, mainly for George and Elaine’s uncomfortable storyline. The more Seinfeld focuses on mundane social interaction, and mines that for laughs without introducing some artificial conflict (like an abandoned dog), the better. I loved every moment of Kramer’s emotional journey, I identified with the frustration of caring for someone else’s dog, and I still want to buy Gavin a drink. I do wish the episode had maintained its momentum to the end, but a solid effort overall. Final Grade: 5/10

Jordan: Did I enjoy this episode? Prognosis negative! We’re headed in the wrong direction for Season Three, as we started with a bang, slowed down for episode two, and then this one really fails to deliver. What I think makes it such a dud is that this is something you’d expect from, say, Uncle Joey on Full House, or Will on The Fresh Prince – to dogsit for a total stranger. Seinfeld doesn’t do well when it falls into standard sitcom plot devices, and that’s what this is. Plus, the fact that it was Jerry makes the least sense as he’s ridiculously OCD with his apartment being clean, so why would he of all people allow a strangers dog into his home and bedroom? If it had been Kramer in Jerry’s place, I bet it could have worked. But, it wasn’t, and so we got this, where Jerry tries his best to carry it, but just can’t do it. Final Grade: 3/10

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.