Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Hot Tub” (S7, E5)

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: This was Jerry’s episode from top to bottom. He was fantastic with his manic obsession with helping Jean-Paul and blending that with his constant digs at everyone about everything was aces. He nailed every line and it crested with him fucking everything up with his paranoia. I will never not laugh at him bobbing his head to the music on the alarm clock.

Aaron: This is hard. George swore up a storm with the Texans but Kramer made a sound when he was cold that made me spit up Ginger Ale. I’ll go with Kramer. I always go with Kramer.

Andrew: I’ll go with George. The idea of acting annoyed in order to look busy is simply brilliant, and I love how eager he is to jump on board the casual-swearing train. I fully support both of those endeavors, for the record. And the stuff with Wilhelm misinterpreting all his behavior is really funny.

Jordan: Kramer. The poor guy can’t get his core temperature up, and it’s killing him. All because he wanted to sleep through the night in a hot tub. Is that so much to ask?

Jason: There’s too many sons of bitches and bastards to choose from here, but I’ll go with Jerry.  His obsession with making sure Jean-Paul wakes up on time was quite hilarious.

Best Storyline

JT: Jean-Paul Jean-Paul. That poor son of a bitch just wants to run and the world is out to fuck him.

Aaron: George using annoyance to convey busyness has always been a favorite of mine. As well as a technique to get assholes off my back. Plus it culminates with George Steinbrenner explaining that he likes to send a hot tub jet straight up his anus.

Andrew: I liked Jerry’s obsession with the wake-up. It starts with simple curiosity about how Jean-Paul originally overslept, but his pride drives him to take charge, and his need to prove he is more reliable proves to be his undoing. That’s a solid plot, and I enjoy everyone’s strong opinions on wake up techniques.

Jordan: Jean-Paul having to get up on time really led to a strong performance from Jerry, so I go with that one. The separate knob, the pissed off wake up call guy, it was all for nothing…and yet the guy still managed to race. For a while.

Jason: Everything tied in together perfectly, so the entire script wins here.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Is it rude for Jean-Paul to turn to Jerry in his time of need? He eventually does out of pure necessity but I do think he could have pulled the trigger earlier. Elaine showed him no reason to be trusted and this was his livelihood. Dump the broad that can’t even heat up a muffin and hook your wagon to the OCD maniac. Trust the process.

Aaron: If you’re going to write a hot tub into a sitcom should you include a scene in which a bikini clad Elaine slides in and maybe takes her top off? I think if you present an atmosphere where anything goes (which is what Kramer’s apartment is) you give a certain implication that you’re going to see Elaine topless. Now I’m not saying you HAVE to deliver on said implication but you have to believe that some viewers will come away feeling slightly cheated/sexually frustrated.

Andrew: Is it OK for Kramer to install a 16,000 BTU heat pump in his apartment? I mean, there’s no law against it. On second thought, I’m pretty confident there is a law against it. But I mostly feel bad for the delivery guys who had to bring it up to his apartment. No one even offered them anything to drink.

Jordan: Should Jerry have swooped in and stolen the role of wake up master from Elaine? Sure, she got the microwave wrong, but…OK, I just read Aaron’s dilemma. I change my answer to his.

Jason: What’s a better way to wake up, an alarm clock or a mental alarm? Poor, Jean-Paul.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Jerry and Jean-Paul were a great pair. They played off each other like an all time great comedy duo, especially in the hotel room. I wish JP moved in with Jerome on a permanent basis. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Aaron: Elaine’s super is the father of that baby right? He was awfully quick to defend the little bastard. Relationship Grade: BOOYAKA BOOYAKA 619/10 Wait! Is Rey Mysterio the father???

Andrew: For a show that spends so much time expounding on the various levels of male-female relationships, it’s a little weird that Elaine inviting a man she barely knows to stay at her apartment goes completely unremarked upon, right? Relationship Grade: I trust Elaine, she is my friend/10

Jordan: I’m just going to say it…I think Jean-Paul has the kavorka. Elaine is really happy with the idea of him sleeping at her place…and so is Jerry. Does the Kavorka cause people to switch teams? Has Jerry gone gay? Was he always, and just repressing it? Either way, he was probably hoping to have a soak with Jean-Paul after the race. Relationship Grade: A SEPARATE KNOB/10

Jason: I’d like an entire episode with George and Big Stein sitting in a hot tub together. Relationship Grade: 16,000 BTU’s/10

What Worked:

JT: Jerry poking fun at Elaine’s writing and George’s tip about looking annoyed get us off to a strong start; Trinidadian & Toboggan; Wilhelm’s head shake as George smacks the fly gets me every time; Jerry’s line about the hot tub matching the coffee temperature and his answer to George asking about Kramer’s running water are fantastic; Jean-Paul is immediately great as is Jerry explaining why the knobs are separate; Why separate knob?; Elaine burning the muffin; Those sons of bitches from Houston are so damn great; Frozen Kramer; Jean-Paul’s “This son of a bitch is ice-cold.” may be the greatest line in the whole series; George getting caught swearing at the Houston boys on the phone makes me laugh out loud every time; Jerry bobbing his head to the jazz is another all time favorite of mine; Kramer setting his mental alarm; Elaine’s epiphany about the walking shoes; Nice callback to the Rabbi by Jerry; The finish is cruel but a great callback to Kramer burning himself with coffee earlier in the season

Aaron: All of George’s interactions with Wilhelm are wonderful. Wilhelm just cares. So much. All the stuff with the Texans lands even though they paint a horrible picture of alcoholism in America. Jean Paul is a great fish out a water and Elaine labeling him a “Toboggan” would certainly not fly today. Jerry excels as well as the concerned friend. I love that George is on board as well. The fist pump when Jerry gets “The call” is a sweet little detail. Of course it works all the better when he fails Jean Paul in the worst way possible. And sweet, cold Kramer is always the best. His hot tub is pure joy. So much so that when confronted with the fact that the water is the same temperature as the coffee that scalded him he brushes it off with child-like glee.

Andrew: I didn’t think Kramer’s method of telling time by the sun could be topped, but the “mental alarm” is fantastic. And I thought the lampshading of his reason for being in Jerry’s apartment totally worked (“He uh…doesn’t have any running water?” “I don’t ask those kind of questions anymore”). Plus, the laidback outlook he gets from relaxing in a hot tub is really funny. I really enjoyed Elaine getting all intense when trying to force inspiration to strike for her Himalayan Walking Shoe writeup. Jean-Paul immediately picking up George’s swearing habit is funny, and makes for a really well set-up joke. The Steinbrenner bit is great as always, especially with the couple’s Jacuzzi kicker.

Jordan: Frustrated George is so great. Wilhelm’s looks of concern are a nice touch as well, and George meeting with those Astro bastards is a lot of fun. To the point where I wish that was the main storyline in another episode. I always like when they read the J Peterman catalog entries, they are ridiculous. Elaine struggling to find her own words, then hitting on it at the end in her hunt for Jean-Paul was nicely done. Jerry really, really wants Jean-Paul to wake up on time, perhaps he is living vicariously through him, knowing that he CHOOSES NOT TO RUN. I like that he harps on Elaine the whole time, then it’s his own fault that the guy nearly misses the marathon. Kramer’s hot tub storyline is absurd in the best way, and his quivering gibberish as he sleeps in the cold tub is hilarious. Jean-Paul cussing at Elaine’s neighbors in an effort to be friendly is really fun too.

Jason: George’s looking annoyed habit. Wilhem catching George swatting a fly with the file and stabbing the crossword puzzle with a pen. George questioning if Kramer has running water in his apartment. Jerry trying to figure out why Jean-Paul overslept for the Olympics; “Why separate knob?! Why separate knob?!” Wilhelm hooking George up with the Houston guys to show them a good time. Jerry’s rant to Elaine about being late.  Elaine setting the microwave for two minutes. Kramer’s swank bathrobe; “The soak of the year.” Kramer’s hot tub experience; “SWEEEEEDEN.” Jerry describing the hot tub; “That human bacterial flat.” George hanging at the bar with the Houston guys; “A real friendly son of a bitch in the front office.” Kramer waking up freeing from the heat pump breaking. George greeting Jerry and Jean-Paul as sons of bitches; “Boy, that son of a bitch Boggs can really hit.”  Kramer’s core temperature; “This son of a bitch is ice cold!” The Houston guys calling George from the plane; “You tell that son of a bitch, no Yankee is ever coming to Houston!” Jean-Paul bumping into Judy and her kid; Look at the cute little bastard.” Jean-Paul calling the building manager a son of a bitch. Kramer bundled up on Jerry’s couch. Jerry pissing of the wake-up call guy. Judy thinking Elaine blew up her spot about the babies father. Elaine thinking Jean-Paul is lost in the city; Himalayan walking shoes.The heat pump causing a power outage.  Jerry waking up in a panic; “8:47?!?!” Kramer’s snoozing alarm hitting the snooze. Jean-Paul grabbing Kramer’s hot coffee instead of water. Big Stein rambling on to George while in the hot tub.

What Didn’t Work

JT: Take a soak and enjoy the perfection

Aaron: Liberal Elaine and Jerry were a little harsh on the single mother straight off the top. Pretty harsh judgment from two people that have more mates than that Whoreson Colin Farrell. I though Elaine was a bit wasted in this one overall. The Peterman stuff should be a gold mine but it fell flat for me here. Also Jean-Paul is just an idiot for immediately picking up curse words and using them. Everyone knows the first words you learn in a new language are the swear words. He should have known better.

Andrew: With all the talk about approaches to waking up on time, it feels strange that they never reference Elaine’s relationship with the wake-up service guy, especially when they do include a callback to the rabbi.

Jordan: Can’t think of much here, other than we just had an episode where Elaine meets a guy who has a wake up service. Why didn’t Jerry use him in case of emergency at the apartment?

Jason: I’ll leave this category on snooze this week.

Key Character Debuts

– Jean-Paul Jean-Paul

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “So did you come up with a little stupid story for the Himalayan walking shoe yet?” – Jerry

– “He’s from uh…Trinidad and Tobago, right?” – Jerry “Yeah, he’s Trinidadian and…Toboggan.” – Elaine

– “Alarm clocks? I never use ’em. Don’t trust ’em.” – Kramer “What do you do?” – Jerry “I have a uh…mental alarm. I set my head for… quarter to seven and…I get up!” – Kramer “Always works?” – Jerry “It never fails. See, it’s based on your body clock. See, your body has an internal mechanism. It knows what time it is.” – Kramer “Uh-uh. What’s with the bucket?” – George ” Lomez, he sold me his hot tub.” – Kramer

– “The water’s gonna get over 120 degrees!” – Kramer “Is that tolerable?” – George “Oh…it’s tolerable!” – Kramer “Isn’t that the same temperature the coffee that scalded you?” – Jerry “Oh, I think it’s a little cooler than that…” – Kramer “He uh…doesn’t have any running water?” – George “I don’t ask those kind of questions anymore.” – Jerry

– “Yes, separate knob. Why separate knob?! Why separate knob?!” – Jean-Paul “Some people like to have the radio alarm a little louder than the radio.” – Jerry “Oh, please, man, please!” – Jean-Paul

– “Hey, Jean-Paul. How was your soak? Was a good soak?” – Jerry “Ah, man, very good soak. The soak o’the year!” – Jean-Paul

– “Come on, I’m tellin’ you, it’s great. I opened up all the windows… the air is cold, the tub is boiling hot… It’s like Sweden, man. Sweeeeden!” – Kramer

– “I like your organization, George. We’ve been talkin’ to a really friendly son of a bitch in the front office. Wilhelm, I think his name.” – Gardner

– “I’m saying “get the hell outta there”! Let me put you in a hotel. You’ll be comfortable, you’ll be near the starting line, and most importantly… you’ll have a wake-up call…These people never fail. They sit in a room with a big clock all night long, just waiting to make that call!” – Jerry

– “This son of a bitch is ice-cold.” – Jean-Paul

– “You tell that son of a bitch no Yankee is ever comin’ to Houston! Not as long as you bastards are running things!” – George

– “You are mama’s little bastard, aren’t you?” – Jean-Paul

– “What kinda music you wanna wake up to? Top 40, classical…” – Jerry “Man, whatever!” – Jean-Paul “How about adult contemporary?” – Jerry “Fine, adult contemporary. Just pick one! ” – Jean-Paul

– “Ohhh, I’m exhausted. I’ve been on this street a thousand times! It’s never looked so strange! The faces…so cold! In the distance, a child is crying. Fatherless…a bastard child, perhaps. My back aches…my heart aches…but my feet…my feet are resilient! Thank God I took off my heels, and put on my… HIMALAYAN WALKING SHOES!!!” – Elaine

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Interleague play in Major League Baseball eventually kicked off on June 12, 1997; This episode aired on October 19, 1995

– Jerry references the Rabbi, who was a character in the first two episodes of season seven

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This episode is fantastic. The writing was tremendous and everything tied together beautifully with all the little things throughout the episode paying off in various ways and it even closes with a brilliant tribe to the coffee incident from earlier in the season. Jerry was on fire with all of his obsessive tics and mania spilling over into a mad dash to the start line. Jean-Paul was a great guest character too, nailing one of my all time favorite lines when he feels Kramer’s icy cold hand. George and the Houston boys was a perfect secondary story too with lots of laughs that led to multiple issues elsewhere. Elaine and Kramer weren’t slouches either and even Wilhelm and Big Stein filled the gaps with strong performances. This is my favorite episode of the season so far and an easy perfect score as I couldn’t find one thing that bugged me and not one scene that felt like a waste. This bastard was as good as it gets. Final Grade: 10/10

Aaron: I liked this one but it fell a bit flat for me by the end. I actually was at a bit of a loss for what to write. Didn’t really feel strongly about it one way or another. It was just…there. That feels a little bit like a condemnation next to episodes filled with classic moments and hilarious beats. Still George being annoyed was great, but this is by no means an all-timer for me. Final Grade: 6/10

Andrew: The high points of this episode are fantastic: George and the Houston guys, and Jean-Paul and the “little bastard”. Kramer’s hot tub travails and Elaine’s writer’s block aren’t great storylines, but the episode overall is well plotted, and has some solid laughs. But the two classic scenes are what take this one to another level. Final Grade: 9/10

Jordan: I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but it was missing something. I’m not sure exactly what that is, but I feel like maybe George was a bit disconnected from the gang. His stuff was enjoyable, but just stood out as so different from the other stuff that was going on. One of Seinfeld’s biggest strengths is weaving stories together perfectly, and this one felt a bit forced with George picking up the cussing, leading to Jean-Paul doing it and getting thrown out of Elaine’s building. Still, Kramer was awesome, Jerry’s fanatic quest to get Jean-Paul up and failing was good, and there were some good laughs is enough for me. Final Grade: 8/10

Jason: What a ton of fun here! This ranks towards the top as one of my favorite episodes in the series. Everything worked and tied in together extremely well. Jean-Paul was fantastic. Only thing I wish is that he pops up in some more episodes. I highly recommend you sons of bitches and bastards check this one out. Final Grade: 10/10