Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Fatigues” (S8, E6)

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!


Best Character

JT: Frank. Costanza. He was awesome as always here and it started with his mocking of his son’s wardrobe choices. Then he delivered an epic war story, bashed his wife’s cooking and rose like a phoenix… from Arizona. Frank literally hits 1.000 in every episode he is in. What a national treasure. Shout out to the K-Men too as both were quite funny throughout.

Aaron: The man was in a relationship that cooled off so he changed he clung to fatigues like a child to an absent parent. He’s responsible for the line “I think of my knife. The only friend I have that won’t betray me, the only one who won’t be dead by sun up.” The man is a genius. A pioneer. Eddie Sherman certainly deserves better than writing that pointless drivel.

Andrew: I’m going with Elaine. Her character goes on quite the journey here, from being totally intimidated by a guy in an Army surplus outfit, to making him her most trusted confidant. That’s impressive growth.

Jordan: It’s been a while since we’ve been blessed with a truly great Frank appearance. Like fine wine, he is loud and ridiculous. Like the perfect meal, he is hideous and boisterous. Like great sex, he is obnoxious and ridiculous. I am not good with similes.

Jason: I’ll go with a tie this week and take the dynamic cooking duo of Kramer and Frank. Kramer taking charge of the Jewish singles night was a ton of fun with him botching the cooking being my favorite part.  Frank’s throwback war story about getting the troops sick was played out perfectly, shitting on Estelle’s cooking and him getting re-traumatized and freaking out when he see’s Eddie choking was a nice payoff.

Best Storyline

JT: It has to be the Rise and Fall of Frank. The mentor stuff was funny thanks to yeoman’s work from Kenny Bania and George’s mischief but Frank and Kramer always slay it together and this was no exception.

Aaron: I love George going through the trouble of lying about being blind to get a book on tape only to have the voice on the tape be the voice he so loathes from his head. Justice.

Andrew: I like the book on tape storyline. George taking advantage of both a mentoring relationship and services for the blind, due to a combination of sheer laziness and lying on his resume, is maybe the most George storyline there is.

Jordan: Frank’s journey to becoming a master chef once again. My favorite part is how in the flashback, he looks just as old. No attempt to make him look any younger whatsoever. And the payoff was really well done.

Jason: Again, everything with Kramer and Frank takes it for me. The mentor/protege stuff had its moments as did everything with Elaine and Eddie, but when you get the K-Man and Big Frank running the helm, it can’t be topped.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Should you let a mentor control every aspect of your life? If you are a fucking train wreck, yes, yes you should. Should that mentor be Cynthia? Absolutely not.

Aaron: If you put things on your resume should you be able to do them? Hell yes you fucking heathens. As someone who auditions actors I make it a point to make them do every single thing that’s listed under their special skills. If you wrote you know Karate you’d better be able to defend yourself from a baseball bat attack.

Andrew: Is it OK to makes jokes about soldiers with PTSD? In this case, I think the joke is more on the overwrought movie depictions, so I’m OK with it. But still, it feels odd that this was such an uncontroversial topic for jokes at the time. The 90s were weird, man.

Jordan: Should we blindly be supporting our troops by saying how proud we are of them? Clearly our military does not care about them, sending them expired hash to eat. The best way to support our troops is to demand reform in military cuisine. #NOMOREEXPIREDHASH

Jason: Should you be afraid of your employer because he looks intimidating and wears fatigues? Should you dump someone because their stand up material is awful?

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Abby needed a leader. Not a man child. She deserved so much better than what she got from Cynthia, Jerry and George. Find your mentor, Abby, and soar. Rise! Like a phoenix! From Arizona! Relationship Grade: Ovaltine/Roundtine

Aaron: I’d be fine with Elaine dating Eddie. She’d have a full life filled with navigating him away from hails of shrapnel and scar tissue. It IS tough keeping your feet dry when kicking in a skull. Best to have a partner who loves you around for the ride. Especially if said partner owns a bayonet. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Andrew: I have to admit, I was into Abby. Terrible taste in mentors, though. Relationship Grade: Risk Management/10

Jordan: Abby is one of the better looking girls Jerry’s seen in a while, but let’s talk about Banya and the mentor. I want to know more about them. Does he hit her with zingers all day long? Does she die laughing? Is their relationship any deeper than “He makes me laugh”? Do they share mutual interests of any kind? I need to know, Jerry! I NEED TO KNOW! Relationship Grade: Ovaltine/10

Jason: Abby is physically attractive, but man she’s a whack job in the head. I’d like to think that Bania reads his new material in the sack to turn on Cynthia. Relationship Grade: Stuffed Cabbage/10

What Worked:

JT: I loved the callback to Brandt Leland; Jerry and George trying to figure out the mentor/protege relationship and George having lied on his resume; Jerry gushing over the Bob Sacamano party!; Elaine hanging up on Jerry during the firing; Jerry calling George “Copernicus” always busts me up; Lomez being an old school Orthodox Jew and the event being held at the Knights of Columbus; Cynthia dating Bania!; Frank shitting on George’s sweatsuit and then storming out when Kramer asks about help cooking; George telling the Doctor he is handsome; “Eat, eat, you’re skin and bones”; Jerry burying Bania to Abby; The reader for the book on tape having George’s voice was brilliant; Frank’s war story is epic as is him finally flipping out on Estelle’s cooking; George’s plot to get Abby to read the Risk Management booked genius; Frank’s phoenix line is one of my all time favorites and him tipping over the table was great; George deadpan reading the Ovaltine routine at the board meeting was a perfect capper

Aaron: Frank Costanza started off slow but by the time he was screaming about cooking and storming out of rooms I was on board. It takes a special kind of psychopath to tell his wife that her eggplant parmesan is a disgrace to their house. Jerry’s disgust that anyone could date Kenny Bania is as hilarious as it is justified. I love him thinking that the only knowledge that George could pass down to someone was how to leave a 5% tip at a restaurant. Proteges permeating the episode leads me to believe that the writing is back on track. Kramer’s sounds of being scalded were tremendous and George treating Bania’s material like a corporate presentation was a wonderful capper.

Andrew: I thought Frank was really good at recounting the tale of the mess hall. Smacking the beef with the flat of a butcher’s knife was especially funny. Ed’s work as a copy writer was excellent. Kramer getting flustered trying to cook for the Jewish singles’ night was solid. Jerry’s feud with Bania is always entertaining, and I liked him asking to eavesdrop on Elaine firing someone. I really enjoyed Elaine needling Ed about his deepest, darkest secrets (“C’mon, don’t be a baby!”). George was awesome in the closer, trying to sell Bania’s Ovaltine bit as his speech to the Yankees organization.

Jordan: The best thing about Frank stories is how they just escalate. He starts off somewhat reserved for Frank, and by the end of things, he’s flinging over plates of food, screaming and shouting like a madman. Elaine being frightened by Eddie, sparing him his job and actually earning him a promotion, was funny. Eddie’s attempts at writing entries for the catalogue are proof he is a psychopath, and somehow it made Elaine less afraid of him over time. Kramer trying to cook for all the singles, and being upset at how bad his food smelled was a nice laugh. I thought the mentor story was kind of stupid, but it gave us Bania and a chance for George to manipulate. Speaking of which, I enjoyed George talking to the blind guy who is now sworn off of Braille, and then George’s book on tape is just his voice. Nice stuff.

Jason: George putting on the TV to read; risk management being on George’s resume; Elaine getting the late invitation to Bob Sacamano’s party; Jerry throwing a peanut at George to wake him up and calling him Copernicus; Elaine’s fear of Eddie Sherman when she first meets him; Lomez being Jewish and being in the Everglades; the singles night going down at the Knights of Columbus;  “A tempting schmear of authentic Jewish delicacies.”; Cynthia dating Bania; Bania gleaming about the duck; George failing the eye test; Jerry’s line about Bania setting pins in a bowling alley; Eddie reading off his idea during the meeting with the war references; Kramer running in Jerry’s apartment with the hot pot; tsimmis, pupkitz, kygel, brisket, kreplach, laktes, hamentashen and kishkas; the stuffed cabbaged looking like a dead animal; “Would. Does. Is.” the book on tape guy sounding like George; Frank’s Platoon war story; Bobby Colby; George plopping on the couch during the Jerry and Abby argument; round-tine; Elaine trying to edit Eddie’s work; hack/ Costanza; George reeling in Abby to read the risk management book; the Bania bit and risk management folders getting mixed up; Eddie being Jewish; Frank lacing into Estelle about her cooking; “I’m back, baby!”; a phoenix rising from Arizona; Cynthia roping Eddie in; Eddie choking and Frank freaking out followed by trashing the place; George reading the ovaltine bit during his risk management presentation; Wilhelm being George’s prodigy

What Didn’t Work

JT: Eddie randomly dropping that he is Jewish just in time to be invited to the Jewish Singles Night just so Frank could see him choke felt forced and is the kind of story plot point that would have been more seamless in past seasons; Cynthia has very poor management skills and I feel we didn’t explore her obvious manipulation of Abby quite thoroughly enough

Aaron: I didn’t love the Korean War chef storyline. For me it was a waste of one of the most valuable characters in the show. We don’t get much Frank Costanza, and while he was as strong as ever the material could have been funnier.

Andrew: I felt like the episode kind of fizzled out. Frank trashing the singles’ dinner sounds like a great ending, but it didn’t feel very satisfying.

Jordan: The whole mentor story was kind of dumb. Who has mentors? And who lets their mentor decide EVERYTHING for them?

Jason: Cynthia looks like she’s 60 years old. It looked the singes night had a few no shows. Kramer said there would be 183 people there. How does Eddie get away with wearing his fatigues at the catalog?

Key Character Debuts

– Abby

– Eddie Sherman

– Cynthia

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Risk management?” – Jerry “Yeah. Steinbrenner wants everyone in the front office to give a lecture in their area of business expertise.” – George “Well what makes them think you’re a risk management expert?” – Jerry “I guess it’s on my resume.” – George

– “He’s writing copy?” – Jerry “Well it can’t be any worse than the pointless drivel we normally churn out.” – Elaine

– “Hey, Jerry!! How’s it going?! You gonna join us for dinner? The duck here’s the best. The best, Jerry.” – Bania

– “Yeah. I had to spend two hours at dinner last night with that specimen.” – Jerry “What did you have?” – George “Chicken, how could she look up to a person who voluntarily spends time with Banya?” – Jerry “Marsala?” – George “Piccata, if anything I should be dating a mentor and Banya should be setting pins in a bowling alley.” – Jerry

– “What are you wearing, an athletic sweat suit?” – Frank

– “I got three kitchens going. I got brisket going at Newman’s, I got kugel working at Mrs. Zamfino’s, this is kreplach.” – Kramer

– “The recipe was for four to six people; I had to multiply for a hundred and eighty-three people. I guess I got confused.” – Kramer “It tastes like dirt.” – Jerry “Well I also dropped it on the way over. Look I’m in trouble, I got no skills. I can’t peel, I can’t chop, I can’t grate. I can’t mince! I got no sense of flavor, obviously. You know, I gotta talk to Frank.” – Kramer

– “I went too far. I over seasoned it. Men were keeling over all around me. I can still hear the retching, the screaming. I sent sixteen of my own men to the latrines that night. They were just boys.” – Frank “Frank, you were a boy too. And it was war. It was a crazy time for everyone.” – Kramer “Tell that to Bobby Colby. All that kid wanted to do was go home. Well he went home alright, with a crater in his colon the size of a cutlet. Had to
sit him on a cork the eighteen-hour flight home!” – Frank

– “Your meatloaf is mushy, your salmon croquettes are oily and your eggplant parmesan is a disgrace to this house!” – Frank “Well that’s too bad, because I’m the only one who cooks around here!” – Estelle “Not any more! Gimme that spatula! I’m back, baby! – Frank

– “Why do they call it Ovaltine? The mug is round. The jar is round. They should call it round tine. That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!” – Kenny

– “No breaks. I fell reborn, I’m like a Phoenix rising from Arizona.” – Frank

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry mentions that his friend used to work at Brandt Leland, a callback to Kramer’s brief career in The Bizarro Jerry (S8, E3)

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This episode held up way better than I expected. I think the name is misleading because you only remember the Eddie Sherman stuff, which was fine but not too memorable overall. However, everything to do with Frank, Kramer and the rise of the phoenix was tremendous. There were tons of laughs sprinkled throughout and lots of memorable lines and moments as well. By the end of the episode you almost forget the tremendous war story he told earlier on! George’s quest to learn about risk management and all of the Bania/mentor stuff was good too, especially everyone just ragging on Bania. As I mentioned above, some of the tie-ins felt forced and it knocked this down a notch for me, but there is plenty here to like and was a much more memorable episode than you may recall it to be. Final Grade: 8/10

Aaron: A strong episode with one of my favorite side characters. Solid writing and a bunch of jokes that busted me up. Very strong but still a ways from all time classic. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: I enjoyed this one, but it’s not one of my favorites. The high points are really good (George’s speech at the end was my biggest laugh), but in the end I was hoping for more. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: This one was fine. Eddie is a memorable one off character, and it gives us a heaping spoonful of Frank, who is at his best when working with Kramer. Yet, there’s something missing, and I can’t really put my finger on it. Maybe Jerry seems a little too separate from everyone else? I don’t really dislike anything, I just don’t love anything either. Final Grade: 7/10

Jason: I love this episode. It’s a hidden gem from the series that can easily get lost in the shuffle. The return of Bania dating Jerry’s girlfriend’s mentor was well written. Eddie Sherman was a nice touch. The Jewish food name dropping throughout the episode is a real treat. Throw this one on if you haven’t watched it in a while. You won’t be disappointed. Final Grade: 9/10