Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Note” (S3, E1)

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: It was a two horse race in this one, but George takes it for his freaking out over his potentially gay tendencies. It started with the massage from Raymond, built to the increasingly tense apartment recap with Jerry, got out of hand in Roy’s office with the Evander Holyfield discussion and snowballed from there, culminating with the kids calling him a “Mary” and him falling while chasing them. Good stuff and I was happy to see George back to being the neurotic, cheap hot mess that he had turned into during season two. Kramer comes in a close second for his awesome Joe DiMaggio quest, specifically when he was describing how he tried to get his attention.

Aaron:  Kramer all day, every day with this one. His story and subsequent stalking of Joe DiMaggio is one of my favorite moments in the history of the show. I’m not sure what it is but the yelping noise he makes as he hits the table makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it. I didn’t know you could make such a sound and yet look like you’re trying to be so seriously casual. There’s a subtle little moment when the others are freaking out about the insurance fraud and Kramer seems to be off in his own world singing about Joltin’ Joe which is such a wonderful photo of the character as a whole. And just when you think he can’t go any higher in this one he, rightly, hits the gang with, “How could you do that to your friend?” It’s perfect.

Andrew: Kramer comes close with his yelping noises, but George is the best character here. The episode just doesn’t work without him. His desire for a free massage drives most of the plot, and he pulls off what could have been a cringe-inducing homophobia storyline by striking the perfect notes of insecurity and neurosis. He’s a good as ever on the dialogue, and he and Jerry play well off each other in the conversations with Roy the dentist. Excellent work all around.

Jordan: This one is a really tight race between Kramer and George. Kramer has changed since the season two finale, enough to where he is suddenly the Kramer we know and love, and the table slapping and yelping was hilarious. But I’m going to give this one to George for his scene with the male masseuse. “I dunno…Korea…I dunno…” Kramer is the one we always think of when it comes to physical comedy, and with good reason, but George’s tenseness and nervous looks here were incredible. Then falling into a daydream-like stare at Evander Holyfield, topped off with commenting on the good looks of Joltin’ Joe, George’s neurotic hand wringing over people thinking he’s gay, and his own questioning of it, were terrific.

Best Storyline

Justin: This was again a close call, but I will go with George’s slow descent into madness over Kramer’s stalking of Joltin’ Joe. This was a bit of a touchy subject but I thought they handled it well as George was never really looking poorly at gay people, but instead seemed freaked out that may be gay and not knowing how to handle it. His penis led him down this path and his quick denial of liking Holyfield was great because to Roy his actions must have seemed really weird. I felt bad for poor Raymond, who really just wanted to chat and fix up George’s hamstrings, but George never gave the poor guy a chance.

Aaron: George’s quest to find out if he’s gay is fantastic and wonderfully played from start to finish. From the moment George is destined to be rubbed by a man he instills the character with a sense of dread which quickly escalates to panic as he’s being massaged. Things go from bad to worse as the massage goes deeper and George becomes an incoherent mess somehow retrograding into his father and mumbling and babbling about Korea. The sadness and utter defeat that he shows when describing if it moved were absolutely brilliant. Don’t feel bad George: Evander Holyfield does have a hell of a body and Joe DiMaggio is a handsome man. The men who are entering your sexual fantasies are just there to help you with your transition. A transition that there is nothing wrong with.

Andrew: I like the Joe DiMaggio storyline here. I feel like this is the best C-story we’ve seen so far, and Kramer certainly gives it his all. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the main story, but I like the fact that the characters seem to treat it as equally important; George even snaps out of his sexuality-questioning-haze to comment on it. But what really sealed it for me was playing the “Joltin’ Joe” song over the end credits. When this much effort goes into the small stuff, it raises the quality overall, and it’s good to see them get such good results.

Jordan: You know how in sports a guy will have an MVP caliber season, but it just happens to come when another guy has a season for the ages? That’s how I feel about poor Kramer here. In ANY other episode we’ve seen so far, he’d get best character and best storyline with the DiMaggio stuff, but George’s obsession over his sexuality was just so great. What made it funny is George is so concerned with what other people are going to think – and nobody thinks anything. Raymond just seems like a guy who wants to help make George feel better, Roy just thinks Evander Holyfield is a heck of a boxer, and so on.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should Jerry have asked his buddy for a note, knowing it could get him in some trouble? Depends on how close they are I guess. Even though he asked, he gave Roy plenty of openings to say no but Roy seemed cool with it and was more worried about George not liking Holyfield, so he kind of had himself to blame in the end. So, maybe it just isn’t a good idea to put your friend in the position to potentially commit insurance fraud if he is the type that doesn’t like to say no.

Aaron: What is the test? Is it if it just moves? Or does there have to be contact by another man for you to know for certain if you’re gay. Now I’m no high school gym teacher but I think it all depends on context. Like if you’re just around other men and it moves well you could chalk that up to just about anything. During a massage? Again what’s the context? Are his hands smooth? Could you for a moment confuse Raymond’s flowing hair and soft touch for the caress of a lady? Now let’s deal with if there’s contact. If a guy brushes against you by accident and it moves you’re probably still straight.I pose this question though: if you paint ONE fence are you a painter. See? Context.

Andrew: Shouldn’t George have gotten the note before getting the massage? It’s not like he was getting the massage either way; he only made the appointment because he thought it would be paid for by insurance. Shouldn’t he have that part worked out before going in? Did he have the right to assume Jerry would get him the note after the fact? If I were Jerry, that would have annoyed me more than anything else. I think Jerry would have been well within his rights to tell George he was out of luck. It’s a shame that Roy was the one who had to suffer.

Jordan: The only one I can really think of this week is the note. I have a brother-in-law in the medical field, and when I was in high school, I took full use of that opportunity, regularly providing notes for myself at every turn. Of course, that didn’t involve insurance at all, it was just me skipping school and getting a note. This situation involved fraud, so maybe don’t even ask the friend and put them in that situation.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Nothing doing here, unless you want to count Raymond and George. Noticeably missing is any sort of relationship between Jerry and Elaine, who are right back to being friends with zero mention of them hooking up at the end of season two. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Aaron: So many to choose from here. I could definitely see George working well with Holyfield. George would slide nicely into the role of “wife” and with his salary George could stay unemployed and get as many massages as he would like. That may create a whole other problem though. George now spends much more time with Raymond, whose flowing hair and shining smile would clearly win George over. Torn between two lovers and two worlds, George may eventually have to settle on handsome Joe whose clarity of focus would clearly be an asset for someone as confused as GeorgeRelationship Grade: Evander 5/10, Raymond 6/10, Joe DiMaggio 7/10

Andrew: Raymond is a handsome man, but he’s no Joe DiMaggio. Relationship Grade: 0/10 

Jordan: Ahhh, after a weird season two finale, we are back to normal as Jerry and Elaine are just pals. And what’s wrong with pal? Why is everybody so down on pal? Relationship Grade: 10/10

What Worked

Justin: Jerry inadvertently painting himself as a child kidnapper during his massage; Cheap George is back en force and it was great to see; George’s issues with a male masseuse and being afraid of maybe being gay as outlined above; Raymond is pretty great with his oblivious dedication to his job; Kramer is much more Kramer here, hair included, and I loved it; The end was a good payoff to the DiMaggio story with the whole group seeing him and George calling him handsome.

Aaron: Aside from everything I mentioned about Kramer and George, I love how all the little quirks about the characters were really on display here. George always having the secondary conversation (standing in the fridge, talking about being a stall man) and Kramer answering Jerry’s phone as though it were his are things we’re going to see time and time again. I loved the little scene where Elaine and Jerry scrunch one another and argue about it. It’s all these little character development moments that really make you feel at home with the show. While not mentioned above, George being called a Mary and busting up his knee was also a great moment, superbly capped off by Kramer telling him that kids are very perceptive. One big difference here too is that all the guest stars were also very on point. In the past some of the support characters have been super off putting but everyone they bring in here, Roy, Raymond, Juliana and the dental hygienist are all great and add to the episode.

Andrew: The interweaving conversations are great; as I mentioned before, George goes right from his crisis of self-doubt to questioning Kramer’s Dinky Donuts story, and back just as quickly. Jerry’s becoming a terrifying child abductor in the eyes of his therapist had a well constructed slow build that I really enjoyed. I was worried that the homophobia storyline would be uncomfortable in the way that all early 90s homophobia is, but it turned out to be fine; since the butt of the joke is George, and by extension all insecure heterosexual men, I had no problem with it. My single favorite part of the episode was Kramer’s attempts to distract Joltin’ Joe; the force he puts into the table slap just kills me.

Jordan: We didn’t waste any time with a good scene here, as Jerry sufficiently creeps a woman out by constantly talking about kidnapping while being massaged. Kramer and DiMaggio was a terrific subplot, with Kramer’s table slapping and yelping being genuine laugh out loud moments. What I think worked best though is that the characters in this episode seem to finally be settled into who they are: Kramer and George here are not a lot different from season eight, and this episode had some of those “everyday” moments like Jerry and Elaine fighting for seat space and Jerry’s eyeroll. I also thought Raymond was funny for some reason, always flashing George a huge smile every time he saw him.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Juliana the masseuse overreacted just a bit to Jerry’s story; Roy was a bit of a dick for blaming Jerry and George when he was so cavalier about giving the note; Juliana’s son runs like a little person more than a kid and it creeped me out.

Aaron: I guess I could have lived without ever seeing Jerry’s hairy/freckled shoulders. I want to also say I would have liked more Elaine in this one but I honestly don’t know what I would have cut to put her in. I’m glad they cut the scatting out of the theme song eventually.

Andrew: It strains credulity to have George get his message before he has the doctor’s note; I just can’t believe that someone so cheap, detail-oriented and neurotic wouldn’t take care of that first. It just seems very out of character.

Jordan: The weird voices in the theme song are definitely off putting, that’s the biggest one. The only other thing I really didn’t like was the ladies over the top response to seeing Jerry and telling her kid to run. I thought that was stupid.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Why don’t take off those pants and I’ll work the hamstrings” – Raymond

– “I think it moved”- George “It moved?” – Jerry “It may have moved, I don’t know” – George “Im sure it didn’t move” – Jerry “It MOVED! It was imperceptible, but I felt it” – George “Maybe it just wanted to change positions, you know, shift to the other side!” – Jerry

– Kramer sees Joe DiMaggio in Dinky Donuts

– “The guy slept with Marilyn Monroe, he’s at Dinky Dounts?” – George

– “He’s a good fighter and a nice guy, but I don’t LIKE him.” – George

– “You know, kids can be very perceptive.” – Kramer

– “I’ve never been happy.” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– The theme music has people singing doo-wop in it.

– Kramer’s hair is starting to grow into its recognizable shape.

– Jerry and George both went to college.

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Now this is more like it! After a rough landing to wrap season two, season three opens with a really fun episode that just feels much more like Seinfeld. Kramer is on the way to becoming the Kramer we all know and love, George is back to being neurotic and cheap, Jerry was still a bit too concerned with Roy’s feelings, but the seeds are there for him being an asshole and we also got more Elaine this time out. It was funny to see them completely ignore Jerry & Elaine becoming a couple, but it was for the best. There were lots of good lines here, topped by the legendary “It Moved” discussion. Season three is off and running, baby! Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: Just a great little episode. When both Kramer and George are clicking at this level it’s hard to find anything very negative to say about the show. The writing was also as tight as ever as they weaved two seemingly completely unrelated stories into a neat little package. Tackling the theme of homophobia in such a tactfully amusing way is ballsy for 1991 and a fantastic way to start off the new season. Final Grade: 7/10 

Andrew: A very enjoyable, well crafted episode. After an inconsistent end to the previous season, I enjoyed the return to a fast-paced, multi-story style. George has been the best character overall to this point, but we’re starting to see signs that Kramer is on the same level, and the show gets better as he takes on a bigger role. I don’t really have anything to complain about, yet I still felt like I wanted more out of this episode. I don’t think it’s a classic, but there’s something to be said for competency and consistency. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: Ahhhhhh, this is refreshing. Season two had some great episodes, but was very up and down and ended on a low note. This one rebounds well and is a lot of fun. Everyone acts like the characters we know and love and they don’t seem to be tinkering with little details here, and it works. Kramer is Kramer, George is George, Jerry is Jerry, Elaine is Elaine. Even the guest stars do a good job here, which was another issue in season two. Great lines, funny stories, silly situations and everyday occurrences are the right ingredients for a great Seinfeld premiere. 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.