Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Nose Job” (S3, E9)

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!

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Best Character

Justin: Kramer takes the cake for me here. He started hot with the nose job line and just gained steam from there, right down to reclaiming his jacket and taking Audrey from George. I loved his speech to Jerry over the phone number, treating him like he was a lowly addict. He was great in every scene he was in, both with lines and delivery. The K-Man takes it!

Aaron: “You’re as pretty as any of them. You just need a nose job.” With that line Kramer wins yet another episode for me. There may be a brutal honesty there, but you know deep down he really is trying to help. His speech/rant at Jerry about standing by and watching him destroy his life is magnificent, almost as magnificent as Dr. Peter Van Nostrand. Van Nostrand, with about a kilo of tobacco jammed in his pipe, is such a wonderfully caricatured secret identity. Not since Viola took on the role of Cesario has more hi-jinx followed a costume change. I laughed way too hard at him banging his pipe trying to enter the apartment. Kramer deserves the post rhino Audrey. That, my friend, is what you get when you try to help people.

Andrew: Kramer is the best. As we all know, people who self-describe as “telling it like it is” are, in reality, just self-seeking sociopaths. Kramer is what those people wish they were: confident and self-assured, with no need for the pretense and insincerity of polite society. No wonder he’s such a hit with the ladies.

Jordan: “GOOD GOD! THAT’S COSMO KRAMER’S MUSIC!” – Jim Ross. Kramer owned this one with relative ease. His honesty towards Audrey was not only funny, but was the driving force behind the story itself. That would probably be enough on it’s own, but his verbal assault on Jerry as he asked for Isabel’s number was fun. Add Dr. Von Nostrand into the mix and we’ve got an MVP caliber episode. George and Elaine were good enough here, but nothing jumped out and Jerry wasn’t very good in this one. This was like Hulk Hogan vs. Rusty Brooks, the outcome was never in question from the opening bell. The K-Man taking Audrey to the reggae lounge at the end was the equivalent of a second legdrop!

Best Storyline

Justin: Easily the nose job fiasco as it dominated the majority of the episode, only yielding to Jerry’s organ war. The jacket stuff was fun too, but was just more background noise to the main event. George, Elaine and Kramer were all fantastic dealing with the nose, as was Jerry’s quiet, subtle reactions to the whole thing. It was perfect storytelling that George was so superficial that he sabotaged the relationship just before she got herself fixed up.

Aaron: I’m gonna go with what I think is the first multiple episode story arc, which is Kramer trying to get his sex jacket back. While I’m not sure I understand the science behind said jacket, I know that if I owned a sex jacket I would not rest until I was wearing it again. He may be cruel to be kind, but I love how his kindness towards Audrey is what convinces Elaine to go along with this ridiculous scheme. I also love that Kramer felt he needed to pretend to be a doctor. Just so much chaos for seemingly no reason. So much sex jacket.

Andrew: It’s close, but the nose job story wins out over the jacket. It’s such a classical tragedy. George knows that he is in no position to be put off by a woman’s nose, and that if he were a better, more mature person, he’d stay with this woman who is good for him in so many other ways. And yet, he also knows that he’ll never be able to get over it, and that he’s doomed to screw the relationship up somehow, which makes it all the more pathetic when he inevitably does.

Jordan: I should say it’s the nose job storyline, it was the main one in the episode, it provided laughs and everyone was involved in it. That alone is usually enough for the vote. But sometimes there are intangible factors that just push someone else over the top, and that’s why I’m going with JACKETQUEST. Was it as funny as the nose job story? Nah. Were all four characters involved? Not really. Could it carry the episode? Maybe in future seasons, but not now. So why do I pick it? The appearance of Dr. Van Nostrand in the jacket storyline. Sometimes it’s just that simple. End of discussion.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should George have brought up the nose job suggestion to Audrey on his own? Probably not until they were further along into things, potentially engaged or married. It is a tough subject to broach. His best bet was relying on somebody to say something to get the discussion on the table, which is what happened here.

Aaron: Dr. Van Nostrand’s theory that Shakespeare was a fraud touches me to my very core. As someone who runs a Shakespeare company I’m constantly bombarded with the questions of the Bard’s authorship. I think if you look at common themes and writing patterns it is clear that Shakespeare’s works were indeed written by a single author. With the possible exception of “The Two Noble Kinsman” and “Pericles” (underrated) where it is suspected that they may have been co-authored. Now who that actual writer actually was can be deliberated at length, but in the end I’ll give the same answer I’ve given to teachers and children across the country for years: “Who gives a fuck?” We should take Shakespeare’s plays for what they are: examinations on the human condition filled with beautiful and brilliant characters. For all I care Steve Urkel could have written Hamlet, it would still be the literary pillar that it is today.

Andrew: What is the correct response when someone is bad-mouthing your mother? Even in this case, where the landlord didn’t know he was talking to her son, you can’t let that stand. Attacking someone out of nowhere usually isn’t the way to go, but I can’t fault Kramer here. That landlord was way out of line.

Jordan: How can I put this delicately…does George have ANY discernible right to be put off by a woman’s physical appearance? I’m not saying he should be happy with whatever he can get, but let’s face facts. George is a short, overweight bald man. Who is he to be repulsed by an attractive, slim woman just because her nose is big? Perhaps George should focus on bettering his own appearance before discussing at length what sickens him about his girlfriends.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: George and Audrey are the main relationship show pony for this one and I really enjoyed them. Audrey seemed like quite the catch and clearly was well off, tossing out suggestions for a Hawaiian vacation for George. She really seemed into our not-so-loveable loser but the nose stood in the way of eternal happiness. Alas, George couldn’t see past it and ended up turning out the lights on this party. Jerry and Isabel was fine fodder as well and definitely a relatable story. The script practicing scenes were pretty funny, but Isabel is clearly someone that could not be tolerated for the long term. Relationship Grade: George & Audrey 5/10; Jerry & Isabel Penis/Brain

Aaron: Isabel is far and away the hottest woman on the show to date. A horrible actress yes, but man I’d read whatever she wants. Audrey is way too nice and kind for George, but I do feel a little bad for her as there seems to be some sort of black magic at work with Kramer’s jacket. Relationship Grade: George, Kramer and Audrey: 5/10; Jerry and Isabel: Tennessee Williams/10

Andrew: I’m assuming Tawny Kitaen was a good get for the show at the time, and she certainly makes the “physical attraction only” story believable. Audrey seemed like quite a catch as well; too good for George, certainly. Just like us all, she just needed little Kramer. Relationship Grade: 6/10

Jordan: George and Audrey provided some good Costanza moments, and that’s all I really ask for out of a George love interest. She was cute, fun, willing to put up with George AND be seen with him in public dressed like an octogenarian! She even wanted to go to Hawaii with him! But the schnoz was too much for him. Jerry and Isabel did nothing for me really. But the real romance here is Audrey and Kramer, and their love of reggae clubs. I hope those two can last. Relationship Grade: George & Audrey: 5/10; Jerry & Isabel: 1/10; Kramer & Audrey: 10 JACKETS/10

What Worked

Justin: George having spinach in his teeth during a job interview; Kramer’s scheme to get his jacket back and blurting out about the nose job was just top of the line Kramer; Jerry’s Isabel addiction led to some funny moments, including Kramer helping him dispose the number and Jerry shaking him down after with Kramer flipping out on him; Jerry’s “I’m Nelson” line and delivery during the script reading was funny; The Landlord was awesomely absurd, including his obsession about Albert and thrashing of Babs; Kramer recapturing the jacket and stealing Audrey was a great way to wrap things up; I love how layered and deep the jacket story kept getting, with this wide range of well known characters involved.

Aaron: George’s back and forth with Audrey and Elaine about getting the nose job is some wonderful Costanza here. He’s clearly trying to gently nudge her towards surgery but is too legitimately afraid of Elaine to do more than dance around the topic. The commentary on dating an actress is pretty bang on here too. I can’t tell you how many stupid scenes I’ve had to read with people, how much awful acting I’ve had to put up with. Everyone just clicks really well here and the consistency amongst the main cast is getting stronger and stronger with each episode. Elaine and George’s chemistry is wonderful following the “butchering.” “George…shut up” is perfect line delivery that would turn Isabel into the green eyed sex monster she clearly is. The camera shots of Audrey’s nose when George says he’s no focusing on it is a neat little trick that doesn’t feel too intrusive. I wish I’d had the balls in my life to pick up a woman with a line as abstract as “crop circles,” and I’ve always been a sucker for Jerry’s bit about rhinoplasty.

Andrew: I like that Kramer is still obsessing over the jacket. It’s just the right amount of continuity, fun for those of us who watch every episode in order, but not confusing to everyone else. I liked the editing and camera work, especially the quick cuts when Jerry is describing the elevator encounter. I enjoyed all the reaction shots, and they really added to the “you just need a nose job” scene. It’s amazing to see how far Kramer has come from his Kessler days; no longer a bathrobe-wearing shut-in, he’s even initiating his own stories now.

Jordan: I’ve already covered it, but I’ll say it again: literally everything Kramer did here was great. Jerry’s determination that one step past a big nose is a schnoz, but that was one of the few things I liked about him here. George was funny in his understanding that the nose was too much for him, but if she had a regular nose, she’d be way out of his league. Everyone’s reaction to Kramer’s nose job statement was terrific: Jerry throws his head in his hands, George starts gagging and Elaine unloads on him. Elaine lecturing George was good, and I love when she just lets him have it. The landlord’s disgust for Babs Kramer and the retelling of her story is a nice touch. Jerry’s stand up bit at the end was good too.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Audrey has no other friends to see the nose job reveal? Only her roommate’s friends?; George passing out and being carried to the couch after the reveal was a bit much; The penis/brain scene was kind of dumb and unneeded.

Aaron: Is Audrey Elaine’s roommate? I was a little confused at first when I saw her in her dressing gown as George was “not condoning” society’s superficiality. Perhaps I missed something…I appreciate that they were trying to do something different but I felt the chess game fell a bit flat. Jerry’s British brain accent makes Isabel look like Lawrence Olivier (or Richard Burbage) by comparison.

Andrew: I didn’t like the chess scenes. Jerry’s not great at playing characters, or conveying human emotion. Even if he was, the idea did not feel very original or interesting. And I don’t like the nightgown. Do people actually purchase and wear those? I’m dubious.

Jordan: George’s shirt in the diner post-surgery looks like our Thanksgiving tablecloth. I know people say this show feels dated because of some of the plot lines, but the fashion is ridiculous in so many episodes. Were the way these people dressed EVER considered stylish? George always dresses like a grandpa, Jerry tucks in turtlenecks and Elaine fluctuates between attractive New Yorker and a granny, maybe George’s wife. The penis and brain scene was stupid and totally unnecessary and Jerry trying to use an accent of some kind as the brain made it even worse. For that matter, I didn’t really care about the Isabel story at all. And here’s a big one: does Elaine live with Audrey now? Or does she just wear nightgowns to other people’s apartments?

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “I really like her…I know that. I know one other thing. I won’t get past that nose…” – George

– Kramer is still hunting for the Jacket

– The first mention of the name Peter Van Nostrand

– “Aw, you’re as pretty as any of them…you just need a nose job!” – Kramer

– “Peter Jennings had one.” – George “Really?” – Audrey “Who knows…they all do!” – George

– Audrey is now Elaine’s roommate, replacing Tina

– “It may not be hell, but you’re gonna run into some bad dudes…” – Jerry

– “It’s like my brain is facing my penis in a chess game!” – Jerry

– “It’s like going to the bathroom in front of a lot of people, and not caring!” – George “It’s not like that at all…” – Jerry

– “How you feeling?” – Elaine “Too much salt in my diet…” – George

– “Alright! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Look at what you’ve sunk to! Look at what you’ve become! Look in the mirror, cause you need help, Jerry. You need help, because I can’t stand by and do it anymore. It’s turning my stomach! I can’t stand around here watching you destroy yourself. It’s eating me up inside!” – Kramer

– “Tell me, is it your contention that Shakespeare was an imposter?”- Landlord “My contention?” – Kramer “Yes, your contention. – Landlord “Yes, that’s my contention.” – Kramer “I heard him contend that.” – Elaine

– We find out Kramer’s mother’s name is Babs

– “Yes, they’re crazy about him. There was one in particular, came around about two years ago, looked a lot like you, Professor. Could have been your mother. What was her name again? Carter? Kramer! That’s it, Babs Kramer. Nasty woman, many a night I had to throw her out on the street, drunken stumblebum.” – Landlord “You don’t say?” – Kramer “I found it!”- Elaine “The woman used to walk around here half naked, sucking Colt 45 from a can. Her big fat stomach hanging out, orthopedic hose up to her knees, screaming down the hall, “Come back to bed, Albert, you big hairy ape, and bring back that box of Danish!” – Landlord

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry and George are talking at a newsstand

– Quick hit cutaway flashbacks are used for the first time

– Kramer goes dancing at a reggae club

– Tawny Kitaen portrays Isabel

– Kramer is smoking inside the apartment building

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This was a nice followup to The Tape and was very similar in that it was a rock solid outing filled with good one liners, bubbling chemistry and strong delivery. But, just like The Tape it was missing those classic, all time scenes to push it up to the top box here. It has been said before, but as we are seeing, to start nabbing the really high grades, these episodes are going to have to be of the legendary ilk. Otherwise, they all top out around the same spot: great for any sitcom, merely very, very good for Seinfeld. Final Grade: 6/10

Aaron: I’ve never wanted to go to a reggae lounge as much as after watching this one. I love when they tackle the subject of brutal honesty, it really shines a spotlight on how careful we’ve become socially. On the surface you’d think they were poking fun at nose jobs but in the end we get a nice lesson about looking beyond people’s words to see their true feelings. A story good old Bill taught us years ago with a story about an old man called Lear. Also: sex jacket. Final Grade: 6/10

Andrew: I enjoyed this one. There were some laugh out loud moments, particularly the nose job line itself. I liked that the episode had a unifying theme, with both Jerry and George struggling with the tension between physical and mental attraction. But much like the previous episode, I didn’t feel like the stories paid off in a satisfying way. Well, Kramer’s story did, but still. A very solid effort, but not a classic. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: Tough call for me here. I LOVED Kramer here, and I like the nose job story itself, but the whole Jerry/Isabel story really didn’t work for me. If I could break down each story by itself, I’d give Jacketquest 10/10, The Nose Job 6/10 and Isabel the Actress 1/10. That’s 17/30, which is just between 5 and 6 overall. It’s closer to 6, and while I’m tempted to round down because I don’t feel this was as good as other episodes I’ve given that rating too, Dr. Von Nostrand is enough to secure that number. A hit or miss effort overall, but the hits were bigger than the misses. Final Grade: 6/10

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.