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!
JT: Jerry was sharp and totally on point in this episode. His digs at Newman, the Risk game, Kramer, Whatley and George were all top notch and watching him navigate through all the deceit only to get the tickets back while ending up at the game with Newman was a fantastic payoff.
Aaron: There’s a lot of good to choose from here but I think I have to go with Jerry as the straight man to all the madness surrounding him. He creates and gets over re-gifting and de-gifting while also teaching George about the nature of giving. Being the straight man is much more difficult than it appears and Jerry nails it here. Label it nailed (that worked so much better for Jerry).
Andrew: I don’t think there is an obvious choice, but I thought Kramer was the funniest. He gets some of the best lines (“And you know who’s gonna suffer? The little people; you and George”), and his chemistry with Newman is always good. And his preference for Canadian football is a perfect hipster affectation.
Jordan: Good God! That’s Newman’s music! Everyone’s favorite antagonist was on fire here, trying desperately to cheat at Risk, going to the Superbowl and scoring a ton of FREEBIES!
Jason: George takes it for me. His displeasure with Scott working from the inside was tremendous. All topped off with his threesome idea audible backfiring on him.
JT: Risk all the way. I was an avid Risk player right around this time so it was a perfect storyline that I could easily relate to. I loved Newman trying to break into the apartment, Jerry’s digs at the whole scenario, Kramer’s threats about what could happen if Newman won and of course the final scene with the Ukrainian madman smashing the board. Also, I used “I’m taking the Congo as a penalty!” many times in my day.
Aaron: George’s quest to be ensconced in velvet destroys a woman’s life and leads to him participating in the greatest tag team since Strike Force. His unwitting major commitment does nothing but bury him in emptiness and a man all too excitedly saying “Oh really???”
Andrew: They all have their moments, but I like the Risk storyline the most. It’s a beautifully simple idea: two friends who can’t trust each other not to cheat getting overly invested in a multi-day board game session. They wrote some perfect lines for this one, and the “Ukraine not weak!” payoff is an all-timer.
Jordan: I’ll go Risk for two reasons. First, it is genuinely funny with Newman sneaking in through the fire escape, Kramer running down the street with his board and the Ukranian man ruining everything because of Kramer’s trash talk. Second, this story can’t be told in modern TV, Kramer would just snap a picture of the board with his phone and be done with worrying.
Jason: The Risk stuff with Cosmo and Newman was full of laughs as was the SuperBowl ticket shuffling, but I have to go with George being paranoid of his look-a-like Scott being Bonnie’s roommate. Vintage Costanza paranoia at it’s finest.
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
JT: Once George suggested the menage-a-tois is he officially committed to taking part in the action? Yes. Can’t back out once you get the buy-in from all the involved parties. Let your mind be free Georgie Boy. Lay down on that towel and let the Super Bowl be the background to your sexual enlightenment.
Aaron: How do we feel about gifts that end up costing more money in the long run? I think I’m with George in that they’re inappropriate and completely wrong. I want a gift, not another reason to plunge into more horrific, back breaking debt. If you’re going to invite someone to the Superbowl at least have the class to pay for their flight and consider romancing them as supplemental payment. It’s just such a slippery slope which is why the only gifts I ever give are cats.
Andrew: Is it fair that Bryan Cranston has a glorious mane in this episode, but had to play his career-defining role bald? No, but we all suffer for our art.
Jordan: Is a velvet couch really that great that it ruins your interest in a woman once it’s gone? I say no.
Jason: If you repeat the name of a gift after you open it does that mean you dislike it? Hell yes it does!
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
JT: Bonnie is a catch and George should have shut his mouth and rode that velvet gravy train into Nirvana. Again, his paranoia ruins a good thing. Whatley and Elaine need to bang already. Relationship Grade:
Aaron: Scott looked deep into George’s eyes, longing permeating every pore of his body. George, nervous but excited, stepped towards his doppelganger with the trepidation of a lamb mounting a skunk. There was something in the air, a mist of love that warmed both their cold, cheap, shallow hearts. As they embraced sparks became fireworks, rivers became seas winding and flowing into an ocean of right. That night the world changed. The loneliest of Bonnie’s wretched borrowed life. Relationship Grade: You can’t put a number on art.
Andrew: Elaine and Tim Whatley: such passion! George is mainly interested in Bonnie for her apartment, but like Sandy in “The Switch”, she’s into some wild stuff; I think it’s worth seeing where that goes. Relationship Grade: Perhaps it’s an homage/10
Jordan: It is a relationship grounded in true love, commitment and faithfulness. That guy REALLY loves the Ukraine! Relationship Grade:Rat fur hat/10
Jason: Man, Bonnie is quite attractive and another one that’s way above George’s league. I really enjoyed Elaine playing mind games with that son of a bitch regifter, Whatley. Relationship Grade: SuperBowl Sex Romp/10
JT: Tim Whatley returns and I love his snub of George; I also love Tim offering Jerry a dinner at Mendy’s; The Label Baby, Junior; RISK!; Big Daddy!; The revelation that Whatley regifted the Label Baby is great; Jerry’s line about Elaine getting Whatley a birthday gift and him being a large; Scott the creepy roommate; Newman planning a sneak attack in a game of Risk is amazing; Arthur Jobanian is a funny name; “Oh, it’s Risk, it’s a game of world domination being played by two guys who can barely run their own lives.” is an all time line and “You’re not a little anything, Newman” isn’t bad either; Elaine wanting to go to Tim’s apartment just to find the Label Maker is funny, especially with the payoff when Jerry and George explain that is why she got the invite; Also, Elaine’s dance is cute; “Mae West” and the Super Bowl sex romp, Jerry is on fire; Elaine just ripping poor Whatley’s heart out in the cab; Jerry collapsing George’s world after Scott moves out; Kramer’s weird popping noise when rolling the dice; I always love when Newman plans revenge via mail tampering; Kramer and Newman scampering down the street with the Risk board chasing the tow truck is epic; The Risk game on the Subway and the Ukraine stuff is so great; Elaine going back to get the Label Maker was funny as was Tim having no clue how to respond and then turning the blame around; Jerry and Newman being stuck at the Super Bowl, George using the threesome trick and it backfiring and Newman ending up with Scott’s boxes were allgreat payoffs
Aaron: This is an expertly written episode. Not only do they do about a billion callbacks to things earlier in the episode, but they manage to tie in the Thanksgiving dinner and Mendy’s. Not a single line is wasted as every single utterance moves something forward, and are funny to boot. The RISK subplot is brilliant. Highlighted with Kramer’s frantic physical comedy and stamped shut with an angry Ukrainian smashing the board in a show of strength and power; the game of world domination is instantly one of the more memorable Kramer/Newman joints. George is always great when he’s got somewhere to fall from; and his descent from gleefully celebrating all that is velvet is so wonderfully punctuated with he and Bonnie sadly searching for towels to spend the night on. He does make a tremendous point about how animals mate when left alone in a cage. Elaine’s inability to understand what going upstairs means is as endearing as the excellent Whatley’s gesticulation to go “straight downtown.” It’s so small but I also adore that Kramer namedrops some guy named Arthur Jobanian.
Andrew: There is some incredible dialogue in this episode, to the point where this section could be all quotes. I’ll just point out that “using an upstairs invite as a springboard to a Super Bowl sex romp” is my personal favorite and leave it at that. There’s some solid use of callbacks, too, like Jerry’s “I don’t wanna be Switzerland!”, and the entirely perfect “ménage à trois” ending. Newman rubbing his luck in Jerry’s face at the Super Bowl is great, as is Kramer knocking with the back of his head in the opener.
Jordan: Whatley and Newman are two of the best recurring characters and they are all over this one. Jerry is always good when he can talk down to somebody, so mocking Newman and Kramer is like a layup line for him. Elaine inadvertantly leading on Tim and getting offered Jerry’s Superbowl tickets is a nice side story. I enjoy the label maker tying everything together. George and his shenanigans are always fun.
Jason: The Drakes wedding as the reason why Jerry couldn’t go to the SuperBowl was a nice excuse. Kramer only interested in Canadian Football. Tim offering to take Jerry to Mendy’s. Jerry’s, “Buh-bye” when he gets off the phone with Tim. Kramer backing into Jerry’s door with the Risk board; “I’m looking right at you, big daddy!” The game board being in a neutral spot like Switzerland. Scott being an eligible receiver. “It’s a game of world domination being played by two guys who can barley run their own lives.” is one of my favorite Jerry lines in the series. Jerry trying to slam the door on Newman and Newman trying to squeeze through; “You’re not a little of anything, Newman.” Newman being described as merry. Elaine’s, “I’m going to the SuperBowl with Tim Whatley” dance. George’s robe, massage and bathroom at two in the morning lines to Bonnie. Elaine asking Tim to go upstairs like she’s Mae West. Elaine cock blocking Tim during the hotel room discussion. Kramer and Newman running down the street with the Risk board after Cosmo’s car is getting towed. Kramer and Newman playing Risk on the subway; “The Ukraine is week.” Ukrainian guy smashing the game board. Jerry lending the label maker to George for Scott’s boxes. The labels falling off the boxes. Scott and Bonnie being into the threesome. Newman and Jerry sitting next to each other at the Super Bowl was one hell of a payoff with the tickets.
What Didn’t Work
JT: The Drake is still a douchebag, scheduling his wedding on Super Bowl Sunday; What does Newman do at the post office that he seemingly goes to work in the middle of the day? Or were they playing overnight?; The Drake is also an idiot for just realizing the wedding coincided with the Super Bowl; Tim Whatley has no other friends to invite?; Why are Jerry’s windows wide open in the middle of winter?
Aaron: Since when do these guys care about football? Perhaps had there been tickets to the World Series I’d believe the excitement. Also as much as I loved the writing there’s no way, NO WAY, Jerry would ever leave his apartment while Newman was still inside.
Andrew: Acknowledging that a show about nothing will naturally have some low stakes storylines, I’ll still say I wasn’t very invested in how the plots would turn out. Mostly I just wish the Risk game had had a winner.
Jordan: The end scene zooming in on George screaming was so odd. Was he about to be raped?
Jason: Bonnie has very low standards when it comes to guys she wants a threesome with. Scott is one ugly dude with some nice furniture. A real jerk move by Tim by telling Elaine that the label maker was the worst gift he’s ever gotten.
Key Character Debuts
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– “I asked. Elaine laughed at me, Kramer’s only interested in Canadian football.” – Jerry
– “Ah, just a couple of gals out on the town, shopping and gabbing.” – Jerry
– “Yes, yes. You’re like Switzerland.” – Kramer “I don’t wanna be Switzerland.” – Jerry “Jerry, Newman and I are engaged in a epic struggle for world domination. It’s winner take all. People cannot be trusted.” – Kramer “Don’t look at me.” – Newman “Oh, I’m looking right at you, big daddy.” – Kramer “Alright, soldier boys, let’s fall out.” – Jerry
– “Oh, well, if you repeat the name of the gift, you can’t possibly like it.” – Jerry
– “Are you a velvet fan?” – Bonnie “A fan? I would drape myself in velvet if it were socially acceptable.” – George
– “Are you even vaguely familiar with the concept of giving? There’s no grace period.” – Jerry
– “Oh, it’s Risk, it’s a game of world domination being played by two guys who can barely run their own lives.” – Jerry
– “What are you gonna do about the roommate?” – Jerry “I gotta try and find a way to switch places with him. It’s like a Sigfried and Roy trick.” – George “Well, the pickle breath is a good start.” – Jerry
– “Jerry? I’m a little insulted.” – Newman “You’re not a little anything, Newman. So just pack it up and move it out of here.” – Jerry
– “How does Tim Whatley even know Newman?” – George “Newman’s his mailman.” – Jerry “Who goes to the Super Bowl with their mailman?!” – George “Who goes *anywhere* with Newman?!” – Jerry “Well, he’s merry.” – George “He is merry, I’ll give him that.” – Jerry
– “You go out with a guy one time, you ask him to go upstairs like you’re Mae West? Of course he’s gonna try and get you alone for the weekend.” – Jerry “You mean just because I asked him to go upstairs, he thinks he’s going downtown?” – Elaine
– “Yeah, well I don’t trust this guy. I think he regifted, he degifted, and now he’s using an upstairs invite as a springboard to a Super Bowl sex romp.” – Jerry
– “I’m taking the Congo as a penalty!” – Kramer
– “You wanted to be ensconced in velvet, you’re buried.” – Jerry
– “Ha ha, the Ukraine. Do you know what the Ukraine is? It’s a sitting duck. A road apple, Newman. The Ukraine is weak. It’s feeble. I think it’s time to put the hurt on the Ukraine.” – Kramer
Oddities & Fun Facts
– The Drake getting married is a callback to The Handicap Spot (S4, E20)
– Kramer is a fan of Canadian football
– Tim referencing a dinner at Mendy’s is a callback to Kenny Bania’s dates with Jerry earlier this season
– George referencing the menage-a-tois was a callback to The Switch (S6, E11)
– This episode aired on January 19, 1995. The Super Bowl occurred on January 29, 1995 and was contested between the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers.
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
JT: Oh how I love this episode. It cranks along from start to finish and the Risk stuff is really some of my favorite random, nonsensical story telling in the entire run of the show. The dedication they show to the game is tremendous and the subway fiasco is a brilliant capper. The gifting stuff was funny too despite how big of an asshole Whatley is. I also liked George’s dilemma and really enjoyed all the various callbacks woven throughout this one. Scott is a creepy looking dude. Final Grade: 9/10
Aaron: This was great. The writing was strong and there were great performances all around. Whereas the last few episodes have fallen a bit flat for me, this one turned it around with tremendous attention to detail. I’m running out of synonyms for “love” in these wrap ups. Final Grade: 9/10
Andrew: This episode has great dialogue and more than its share of classic moments, especially the Ukrainian slander and George’s brush with a devil’s threesome. But I wouldn’t call any of the storylines classics, and I do feel like this episode is a notch below the best of the best. Final Grade: 8/10
Jordan: I did not enter a ton of info here, but it’s not a knock on the episode. Sometimes it gets to a point where you wonder what you can say that you haven’t already. George being George always works for me, ditto Elaine and Kramer. For me, the show rises and falls on the performance of Jerry and guest stars – and this one is solid in both. Final Grade: 9/10
Jason: Risk, SuperBowl tickets, label makers and threesomes with ugly dudes. This episode holds up very well with some very good storyline tie ins. Jerry and Newman’s feud is always a treat in any episode. Awesome to have Tim Whatley back. We had some strong past episode references including, “The Mom & Pop Store”, “The Handicapped Spot” and “The Switch”. I’d say that this is in the top tier of episodes from this season. Final Grade: 8/10