Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Muffin Tops” (S8, E21)

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: While George was pretty solid, I thought Kramer takes this one in a walk. All of his issues with Peterman were well done, and the scene in the bookstore was a strong start. The bus tour retaliation was a classic and it led to some memorable scenes and conversations throughout. Plus the bus driving theme music was really funny.

Aaron: Fuck it. It’s Don Tyler for clucking like a chicken while declaring his love for a chicken based alcoholic beverage.

Andrew: I liked Jerry the most. His “I did something stupid” scene is top-notch, and his Wolfman impression is funny, too. While I generally prefer the uncaring version of Jerry, it was fun to see him get goofy in this one.

Jordan: Kramer has this one in a runaway for me. The Peterman Bus Tour is such a Kramer thing, then when you factor in him taking them to the city dump and handing out fun sized 3 Musketeers? Good stuff. I also like how he appears to be ejected from a seat of some kind as his way of entering the bus.

Jason: I enjoyed George a lot, but this episode will forever belong to Kramer. He went full monty with the Peterman Bus Tour and it holds up as one of his finest moments. The bus music, pizza bagels and getting into it with the passengers all delivered big time.

Best Storyline

JT: I really liked both George and Kramer’s stories this week but I think the Peterman Bus Tour has to take this one. The idea was great and Kramer was awesome throughout. I loved the discussion with George and Jerry trying to sort it out and then the tour itself being such a shit show was really funny. The George stuff had a great payoff, especially with his Yankee tenure ending in such a fucked up way, right after his big promotion. It has been a hell of a run on River Ave.

Aaron: I really dug George stealing that man’s clothes, pretending to be a tourist and entering a spiral that will inevitably lead to him losing his dream job. The determination to get in that woman’s pants was there but the consequences have never been higher for our favorite short, stocky buffoon.

Andrew: I don’t think there are any standouts here, but I’ll say the “Peterman Reality Tour”, if only because it references the real-life Kramer’s tour. And watching Kramer argue with random tourists is a good time.

Jordan: Tough call here, the Peterman tour is fun as I already mentioned, but I like George just stealing a man’s bag and pretending to be a rube tourist to keep dating a woman. He even emptied out his apartment for it! Do I go with a smelly apartment or pizza bagels? This is truly Sophie’s choice. So I asked my daughter Sophie to weigh in. The answer is Cinderella.

Jason: Again, George’s tourist stuff was real fun, but the Peterman Bus Tour was a beast. Jerry and George dissecting the purpose of the tour was brilliant. As for Georgie Boy, him getting traded for chicken everything seemed like a fair deal. Both Big Stein and Don Tyler had great showings.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Should a dump refuse any sort of trash? Should the guy running the dump be judging what’s in the trash bag? Fuck no, dude. Shut up and do your job. Kramer and Elaine did make one big mistake, though: use dark trash bags! The guy isn’t going to explore inside! Don’t give him a reason to.

Aaron: If you’re homeless do you have a right to complain about getting the bottom half of a muffin? You are starving. STARVING. It’s the god damn height of ingratitude. You usually eat trash.

Andrew: There’s nothing wrong with donating muffin tops to the homeless, right? This plot point always makes me question my sanity a little bit. I guess the needy are entitled to turn down partially eaten food, but I still feel like there has to be a satisfactory way of giving those things away.

Jordan: I’m a homeless person. I can’t afford food. There is a place that gives me food free of charge. They offer muffins, but not the muffin tops. I am outraged at this. Why? BECAUSE I’M SELFISH AND THAT’S HOW I GOT HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, THINKING ONLY OF MYSELF. I’m not even sure this is a dilemma so much as an arrogant refusal of people’s good will.

Jason: Should you ask a complete stranger on the streets of New York City to watch you bags? No! Also, in return you should never accept a request to watch a stranger’s bag.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Mary Ann was worth lying to but George should have thought things through better to close the deal. She is sharp as a whip. Alex is solid too, Jerry needed to suck it up and deal with the hair issue for her. Relationship Grade: Lady Gillette/10

Aaron: Both love interests on this show sucked. Get me more Don Tyler banging chickens. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Andrew: I could see inventing a fictional backstory for Mary Anne. On an unrelated note, I can’t see Alex without thinking about The O.C. Relationship Grade: Mexican Hairless / 10

Jordan: George’s plan was inspired but it was doomed to fail. Mary Ann was going to dump him for the next country bumpkin that strolled into her life. In fact, I think beneath the shiny clean surface of her tourist hosting facade lies a sexual deviant. How many yokels has she bedded? 75? 85? AS I TYPE THIS, she is probably shacking up with Cletus T. Dinosaurfoot from Mud Lick, Kentucky. George actually got lucky here – he would wind up as the world’s saddest cuckold! Relationship Grade: Hillbilly Jim probably got her into this fetish as a child/10

Jason: Mary Anne is a good catch for George, but she was too smart to fall for his lying. Alex and Jerry should have shaving time together. Candles, some Yacht Rock music and plenty of Lady Gillettes Relationship Grade: $37.50/10

What Worked:

JT: George stealing the clothes was pretty funny and I loved that the Yankees replaced him with an intern that works one afternoon a week; Kramer only vaguely remembering the Peterman stories deal was good as was him busting into Jerry’s shower to tell him he was going out; The return of Lippman!; Kramer’s “Well women do it” line is a classic and then him immediately telling George was great; Alex digging the hairless dog was funny; They really went all in on assholes on the street in this episode; “Top of the Muffin to You!”; The conversation breaking down the Peterman Tour is one of my all time favorites; Lippman being so steadfast on the exclamation point; Kramer showing Jerry his hairy body is tremendous; Rebecca DeMornay went all out in her one shot at glory, what a cameo; Mary Anne indirectly and sweetly trashing everything about George’s life was funny; “Lomez’s place of worship”; Kramer calling Jerry a minor celebrity; “Top flight chicken outfit”; Kramer using donuts and pound cake for pizza bagels… and that theme music!; Steinbrenner’s conversation with his counterpart at Tyler Chicken was well done; Kramer driving the bus to the dump and falling asleep at the wheel while everyone gets sick was good; The end payoff with George losing his job and being told by Mary Anne that he never stood a chance in NYC was quality; Newman flying up in a sports car and eating all the muffin stumps was great

Aaron: Right off the top the stranger explain precisely why you shouldn’t watch someone’s bag on the street and it’s perfect. Elaine was her usual excellent self. Her Top Of The Muffin idea WAS genius, and she was absolutely correct in waiting for her 30 percent cut before enlightening Lipmann. Kramer searching the couch for Jerry’s change felt very apropos. His tour was as great as I remember it and the montage where he attempts to disperse the war veterans was sublime. Sure the music playing in the bus was one hundred percent inappropriate but he sold it man. The moment where Kramer instructs Jerry to not tell anyone about the chest shaving and then turns around and rats him out to George is only made more perfect by him exclaiming “I forgot!” Michael Richards gets all the credit he deserves for his physical comedy but his line readings are just as solid.

Andrew: I enjoy the meta-ness of Kramer’s Reality Tour. I really enjoy how Jerry’s chest shaving starts out as innocent curiosity before turning into panic and deception. Elaine’s muffin top idea hits an important sweet spot, as it’s really dumb, but just wacky enough to plausibly work as a business. George posing as a tourist and trying to frame his life as impressive is a fun idea, although there is not much to the storyline beyond that initial thought. I like Newman’s “Cleaner” scene, although they cram a lot of references into that one bit.

Jordan: I liked George agreeing to watch the bag, then the very next guy pointing out why you shouldn’t. The Kramer tour was all kinds of fun and I really liked the passenger interactions. Don and Steinbrenner debating on the importance of George was a fun exchange and it led to chicken based alcohol being served at Yankee games. And oh yeah, Elaine and Lipmann’s adventure was pretty well done and I haven’t even talked about it. I like how she is a muffin expert to the point where he immediately opens a business based off her input. Then again, I too would do anything sweet, sweet Ms. Benes told me to. Newman as the muffin exterminator was a nice ending.

Jason: Jerry picking up on George wearing street guy’s clothes; ear hair; the Yankees replacing George with an intern; Kramer vaguely remembering selling his stories to Petterman; Kramer invading Jerry while he’s in the shower; Jerry doing something stupid; Mexican Hairless; Top of the Muffin to You!; Willie the three-legged dog; Mary Anne telling George that the city will eat him alive; Jerry congratulating George for moving to New York; Kramer exposing himself to Jerry; “LOOK AT IT, LOOK AT IT!”; Kramer once being a lifeguard; Rebecca DeMornay’s rant to Elaine; Lomez’s place of worship; stump trouble; Kramer asking if the stumps are war veterans; Mary Anne blowing up George’s spot to Steinbrenner; pizza poundcake; Don Tyler’s head bopping like a chicken; alcoholic chicken; Jiffy Park/Dump guy; Jerry howing at the moon; Newman being the muffin “cleaner’;

What Didn’t Work

JT: Again, this has more to do with technology but seeing George rifling through a giant map to find a local street was jarring; Why did the Waldenbooks employee care so much about a half eaten muffin?; How did Lippman open a shop that quickly?; Jerry scratching is chest like a werewolf and howling at the moon was probably a bit funnier on paper than in execution

Aaron: There is no way that a woman showing George around the city and making all the plans would bring him to the coffee shop. COME ON!

Andrew: Every time I watch this episode, I am once again obsessed with ideas for getting rid of muffin tops. Give them away at a coffee shop. Put them in the bread basket at a restaurant. I really wanted to see more creativity from Elaine and Lippman, I guess is what I’m saying.

Jordan: I think the biggest issue is this – why would a city dump refuse muffins? They are uneaten and thrown away. That is the very definition of garbage. I think the homeless not wanting them is a stretch, but the whole dump thing was kind of a stupid add on. Also, why not just throw them in an actual dumpster?

Jason: How did Kramer know which Walden Books Peterman was signing at? Why does the bar have a phone in the bathroom. Man, Lippman sure did open up shop rather quick. Same goes with Kramer and getting the bus.

Key Character Debuts

– N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “New clothes?” – Jerry “Yeah. I did some shopping. Some new clothes shopping. (turns to a man) Can I borrow your menu?” – George “Strange. For new pants, there’s noticable wear on the buttocks of those chinos. Wait those are the clothes from the bag!” – Jerry “The guy never came back.” – George “He asked you to watch them not wear them.” – Jerry “I’m still watching them.” – George

– “It’s like puberty that never stops. Ear puberty, nose puberty, knuckle puberty, you gotta be vigilant.” – George

– “They got a new intern from Francis Louis High. His name is Keith. He comes in Mondays after school.” – George

– “Oh no. Sure. It matters. Wow. I’ve broken through, huh. I’m part of popular culture now. Listen I’ve got to thank Mr. Peterman.” – Kramer

– “If you can call it that. Why is it every half-wit and sitcom star has his own book out now?” – Lippman

– “Relax man. There’s enough juice here to keep us all fat and giggles.” – Kramer

– “”Well women do it.” I’ll tell you what. I’ll pick you up a sundress and a parasol and you can just sashay your pretty little self around the town square.” – Kramer

– “Oh really. You tell her you shaved it?” – George “Are you nuts? I don’t want her to think I’m one of those low-rise briefs guys who shaves his chest.” – Jerry

– “The last thing this guy’s qualified to give a tour of is reality.” – Kramer

– “Look george, I’m really enjoying spending time with you but I’m not sure this is going to work out. At some point you’re going back to your job at Tyler Chicken and your three-legged dog Willie.” – Mary Anne

– “Never mind. The’re done. All I have to do now is redo them. You know if you take everything I’ve ever done in my entire life and condense it down into one day, it looks decent.” – George

– “”The Real Peterman Reality Bus Tour”. I’m confused.” – Jerry “Peterman’s book is big business. People want to know the stories behind the stories.”- Kramer “Nobody wants to go on a three hour bus tour of a totally unknown person’s life.” – Jerry “I’m only charging $37.50, plus you get a pizza bagel and desert.” – Kramer “What’s desert?” – Jerry “Bite-size Three Musketeers. Just like the real Peterman eats.” – Kramer “He eats those?” – George “No. I eat those. I’m the real Peterman.” – Kramer “I think I understand this. Jay Peterman is real. His biography is not. Now, you Kramer are real.” – George “Talk to me.” – Kramer “But your life is Peterman’s. Now the bus tour, which is real, takes to places that, while they are real, they are not real in sense that they did not *really* happen to the *real* Peterman which is you.” – George “Understand?” – Kramer “Yeah. $37.50 for a Three Musketeers.” – Jerry

– “And one more thing, you really think we need the exclamation point? Because, it’s not “Top of the Muffin *TO YOU!!!*”” – Elaine “No. No. It is.” – Lippman

– “Ahh. Everyone just settle down. We have three hours left on this thing, and I can’t drive and argue with you rubes all at the same time. Okay. Lomez’s place of worship is right on the right here.” – Kramer

– “Moonlighting for Tyler Chicken. Pretty impressive George. Days with the New York Yankees and nights in Arkensas with a top flight bird outlet. And a hen supervisor to boot. I am blown. Bloooown away. Blown George.” – Steinbrenner

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Mr. Lippman ripping on “sitcom stars” writing books was a funny meta comment about Jerry Seinfeld’s book SeinLanguage.

– George references having SpectraVision in his hotel, which was in room television content that may be free or guest paid. George says he has the first five minutes free, so this hotel seemingly charges for the TV content.

– Kramer’s J. Peterman Reality Tour is a spoof of Kenny Kramer’s “Kramer Reality Tour”

– The guy working at Jiffy Dump is also the proprietor of Jiffy Park from The Wig Master (S7, E19)

– Newman’s role as “The Cleaner” is a knock off of “The Wolf”, portrayed by Harvey Keitel, in Pulp Fiction

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: There are some really strong pieces in this one, enough that this could have been all time classic but it ended up lacking the full package in the end. Jerry’s story had some funny parts in it, mainly involving Kramer, but I thought they didn’t really utilize Alex all that well. Plus I never cared much for the werewolf ending. And while I loved seeing Mr. Lippman back, that was another story that felt a bit light overall. George’s stuff was great and had a tremendous payoff with him finally losing his job with Yankees, right after he tried to get fired and then got promoted. It was a great run with Steinbrenner but I get why they wanted to start exploring different avenues for Costanza. That whole story played out organically too and never really felt forced, mainly thanks to the built in absurdity of Steinbrenner. I talked about the Peterman Tour above, but I love everything about it. It was really funny stuff and totally made sense in the world of Kramer. And at $37.50, what a steal! Again, this one comes close to reaching that really great tier but just falls short in the end. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: Another really solid outing. I popped out laughing on a few occasions and forgot all about Don fucking Tyler. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: There are quite a few big laughs in this episode, but they are mostly of the aside variety (the guy on the street who snaps “What did I just say?” to Elaine, for example). None of the storylines are especially remarkable, and I’m inclined to think they’re all below average for the series. This is an enjoyable episode, and the actors all put in a good effort, but so-so writing lowers the ceiling a bit. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: I liked this one overall as it was an episode where nothing stood out as much stronger than the rest. Everyone had their own stories that delivered to various degrees with Jerry going wolfman being the weakest. Even that story was just forgettable rather than bad, though. Elaine and Lipmann were fun together, I’ve sang the praises of Kramer already, and George doing George things is always an easy thumbs up from me. Final Grade: 8/10

Jason: There were plenty of strong moments here, especially from Kramer and George. I enjoyed the exclamation point throwback from Elaine and Lippman. Jiffy Park/Dump guy bringing up consumer affairs was another great reference from the past. The stumps and Jerry’s hair issue coming together on the bus was solid writing. I feel like there were holes in some of the storylines, mainly with the Elaine and Lippman stuff. This episode is worth throwing on just to watch the bus tour stuff alone. Final Grade:  7/10

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.