Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Old Man” (S4, E18)

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!


Best Character

Justin: I may have to go four way tie here with George, Newman, Kramer and Sid. They were all top of the line here. George flaming out as a volunteer was perfect, followed by his oiled head dream coming true. Sid was the man, a cantankerous, rotten, angry, bitter piece of shit. In the best kind of way. Newman and Kramer were tons of fun during their escapade, closed out with their brouhaha at the record store thanks to Kramer’s acid tongue and Newman’s ballsy delivery.

Aaron: I’m not sure what his problem is but Sid Fields steals this one like a Senegalian… Sengali… like the woman who’s apparently stealing his things. He’s the perfect storm of old, paranoid and racist which reminds us all of some elderly person we know. He may not like voodoo music, but he knows a fool when he sees one. Sid Fields is a mean, mean man who suffers neither fool, hipster doofus or mailman.

Andrew: Sid Fields is the best character in this episode. That shouldn’t be taken as a slight on the main cast, who are all quite good. I just love that ornery old man. Complaining about his kids, casting aspersions on the housekeeper, picking fights with strangers; the character is perfect, and is the main reason this episode works.

Jordan: As the last one to chime in here, I have to say I thought I was being clever when I said to myself, “I’m going to give Best Character to Sid!” WELP, looks like I wasn’t the only one thinking this. He’s awesome. An old jerk who doesn’t care and lets everyone know it, and no one is safe – Jerry’s a target, his poor maid is a target, his stupid kids are a target. Sid owns this one.

Best Storyline

Justin: I have to go with the records because it included pretty much everyone at one point or another. It was a great Kramer and Newman scheme and led to the best scenes of the episode in Sid’s apartment and at the record store at the end.

Aaron: I really enjoyed Kramer and Newman: treasure hunters. Newman was hilarious in every scene and his parroting of Kramer’s insults is fantastic.

Andrew: This may be stretching the definition of “storyline” a bit, but I’ll go with oiling up your bald head and rubbing it all over a woman’s body. That’s one of the all-time great fictional sex acts, completely ridiculous and immediately hilarious to imagine. Adding Gandhi to the mix is the icing on the cake. I love that they have two characters bring it up independently, and it leads to an excellent episode capper, as the search party bursts in on an oily, semi-nude George. Good stuff.

Jordan: I like the very specific storyline of Elaine and her old person. She was the one that got Jerry and George into it, and she struggled the most. George got a healthy old man who didn’t want to be around him, Jerry got a mean old man, and Elaine got…the goiter. Her scenes were hilarious as she couldn’t even look up or maintain a conversation, and it’s capped off with her saying she wishes she had one.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: I know it looked bad at the end, but Jerry had every right to take those records. He clearly asked Sid at least three times if he was just trashing them, and that old coot insultingly said yes every time. And while I am at it, the company representative really gave Jerry the business, but do they do any background checking before sending these people in for visits? I one quick sweep of the past of Jerry and George would show they are untrustworthy, selfish dickheads that shouldn’t be given custody of elderly folks for even an hour.

Aaron: Is it necessary to be nice and kind to a mean old bigot? Look I want to show everyone kindness and love but I think I may have drawn the line at Sid Fields. Perhaps on his first bite I may have dropped him on his head and had sex with his Segegalitian slave.

Andrew: Is it OK to do charity, or volunteer your time, if your only purpose is to feel good about yourself? Of course it is; regardless of motives, giving of yourself to help others is a net gain for all involved. As Bill Clinton once said, “There’s no real difference between selfish and selfless if you understand how the world works.” And I defer to our former President on all ethical matters.

Jordan: Maybe I’m confused here, but isn’t the purpose of spending time with these people because they are aging and have no one? Sid’s son was there at the end, and clearly knew about his record collection. How crappy of a son are you that your dad has charities sending him people to visit? Go see your dad, chump!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: George and the housekeeper really could have had something special there and honestly nothing that bad went down that could prevent them from moving forward. She was his perfect woman, everything he was looking for. And she clearly seemed into him, given her excitement to spread oil on his bald dome. Give love a chance! Relationship Grade: 10/10

Aaron: Sid and the woman with the goiter probably would have had the driest sex this side of Jack Nicholson banging Helen Hunt. Unfortunately she just had to add milk to his tea without asking. What kind of monster does that??? Relationship Grade:2/10

Andrew: I found George’s language-barrier-crossing relationship more moving than the one in Love Actually, which says a lot, about both myself and Love ActuallyRelationship Grade: 5/10

Jordan: Mrs. Oliver and Mohandas sounded like true love. Since she is living in the Seinfeld universe, I assume she is white, so their love transcended race. It probably transcended religion. I can picture Gandhi taking Mrs. O out to fancy restaurants, then not ordering anything for himself as he was fasting. Then things got hot and heavy once the oil came out. Relationship Grade: GANDHI/10

What Worked

Justin: The Spring Break line in the opening stand up bit made me laugh; George continues to be miserable when he is single, pining for a woman; Jerry’s dig about George being like an old person that needs companionship was good; Newman’s postal meltdown was fantastic as was Kramer and Newman at the record store, especially when Kramer was feeding him lines; Sid is delightfully out of his mind, especially with his treatment of Jerry; I love that George can’t wrap his head around Ben’s inability to think about death and then caps it by asking for money for lunch; Poor Elaine, she can never win; Only George can get fired from volunteering; Kramer and Newman taking Sid’s albums, ending with Kramer getting bit and George grinding his false teeth up was so great; That cab scene, so good; Kramer feeding Newman the insults was tremendous; George’s oiled head was the best possible way to end this whole fiasco until we got Sid and Ben showing us future George and Jerry, including an awesome callback to the goiter lady!

Aaron: George’s sorrowful complaining is always nicely balanced by Jerry callous indifference. Kramer, while mostly playing second fiddle to Newman, was extremely solid, especially when he trumpeted the cause of the alternative media and exposed helping the elderly for the con that it is. I’m a big fan of uncomfortable Elaine. George is also pretty great throughout and it’s a nice touch that even the elderly can’t stand to be around his level of annoyance for too long.

Andrew: The mysterious goiter works so well. The shadowy room, the descriptions, and most of all Elaine’s reactions, combine to make it much more horrifying than if they had actually shown it. It haunts my dreams. Newman is a force of nature in this one, starting off strong with the panicky knocking, raising the bar with his “the mail never stops” monologue, and capping it off by acting as Kramer’s mouthpiece in the record store. I thought Jerry was really good, once again playing to his strengths as the aloof, condescending counterpart to George’s misery. And his “old people backing out” stand-up bit is one of my favorites in the series. The scene with Sid and Ben in the diner is fantastic; it was a great idea to have it mirror a George and Jerry conversation, and they executed it really well. It’s either a harrowing or comforting glimpse into the future of George and Jerry, depending on your perspective.

Jordan: I like all the pairings this episode: Jerry and Sid, George and Mr. Cantwell, Elaine and the goiter, and Kramer and Newman. Sid wound up interacting with just about everyone, but it all worked just fine. I loved Mr. Cantwell pushing George down and saying life is too short to waste on him. The goiter scenes are great as I already mentioned. Kramer and Newman’s record hunt is a nice subplot that ties in at the end. Newman going berserk over everything gives George a run for his money and he would fit in fine as an every day character, in my opinion. I like the scene at the end with Sid and Ben at the diner together.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Honestly, nothing this time around, I dug it all.

Aaron: As much as I love stories where stuff ties in, this one was a bit much. George laments wanting a woman who doesn’t speak English and he finds one, Sid ends up taking out the goiter lady, it just feels a little too neat. Maybe I’m just becoming a cynical asshole, who knows. I also found it weird that Elaine was so into the story of the woman banging Gandhi. If she was so repulsed and distracted by the goiter there’s no way she doesn’t picture Mahatma peacefully penetrating it. Did anyone else find it infuriating that they never told us what to call people from Senegal?

Andrew: Jerry goes from “Eh, it’s not for me” to signing up with the volunteer organization awfully quick, and without an explanation. It’s not a huge plot hole, but it’s not great. I was feeling weary of George’s relationship moping in the beginning, but it bookends really well with the old men, so I’ll take it.

Jordan: As I mentioned earlier, it bugs me that Sid’s son is around. If they just threw in a line like, “I pay people to visit him so I don’t have to!”, I’d be fine with it. I just can’t get past the idea of a guy getting visitors from an agency when his son clearly lives nearby.

Key Character Debuts


Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Oh, what’s the point? When I like them, they don’t like me, when they like me, I don’t like them. Why can’t I act with the ones I like the same way I do with the ones I don’t like?” – George “Well, you’ve only got another fifty years or so to go before it’ll *all* be over…” – Jerry “Maybe I need someone who doesn’t speak English.” – George “Yeah, how about a mute?” – Jerry “A mute would be good.” – George “Ah, where you gonna meet a mute?” – Jerry “This is what my life has come to… Trying to meet a mute.” – George

– “Your misery is my pleasure.” – Jerry

– “What kind of a person are you?” – George “I think I’m pretty much like you…only successful.” – Jerry

– “Oh, Jerry, I’m surprised at you!” – Kramer “What?” – Jerry “It’s a con. These agencies are usually a front for some money laundering scheme. Or they’re bunko artists; bilkin’ people out of their life savings, oh yeah.” – Kramer “Where do you get this?” – Jerry “The alternative media, Jerry. That’s where you hear the truth.” – Kramer

– Hello, Newman

– We first find out Newman is a postal worker

– “Because the mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming, there’s never a let-up. It’s relentless. Every day it piles up more and more and more! And you gotta get it out but the more you get it out the more it keeps coming in. And then the barcode reader breaks and it’s Publisher’s Clearing House day!!!” – Newman

– “Are you going to kill me? I’m an old man for crying out loud, you gonna kill an old man, you coward?!?” – Sid

“Oh listen, before you go, would you mind changing my diaper? Ha!” – Sid

“What are you talking about? How can you sit there and look me in the eye and tell that me you’re not worried?! Don’t you have any sense?!! Don’t you have a brain!? Are you so completely senile that you don’t know what you’re talking about anymore!!?!” – George

– “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I can’t look the woman in the face. I mean I keep thinking that that goiter’s gonna start talking to me…” – Elaine

– “They really should mention that in the breakdown: height, weight, goiter.” – Jerry

– “Yeah, I’m a great quitter. It’s one of the few things I do well. I come form a long line of quitters. My father was a quitter, my grandfather was a quitter… I was raised to give up. Kramer and Newman come in, albums in hand…” – George

– “Oh yeah, you and your Sergio Mendes…” – Jerry “Hey, hey, hey, hey, that guy can’t even go to the bathroom in South America!” – Kramer

– “And who were these other people. What were they doing in the apartment!?” – Tim “Well, I brought them up there to take his records.” – Jerry

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry owns Journey’s Escape album

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: I have to say, this was way better than I remember it being. I wasn’t totally looking forward to watching it, but it won me over quickly. The guest elderly actors all delivered in spades, especially Sid. Seeing George fail spectacularly at volunteering was perfect and the whole scene with Kramer and Newman taking the records and the capper with the cab pile-in was amazing. Also, we need more Newman and Kramer team antics, as they were fantastic here. I won’t say it was the perfect episode, but it was really strong writing throughout, moving at a rapid pace and tying everything together perfectly, right down to the final scene with Sid and Ben bringing it all full circle at the coffee shop. Good showing, idiots! Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: This one is pretty solid throughout, but at no time did I imagine I was watching a classic. There’s some pretty great performances which put it a little above the average, but the lack of any classic moments hurts this one a little. It’s a solid seven, but it’s like the worst of the sevens. Still definitely worth a watch if you enjoy the red hot rage of the elderly. Final Grade: 7/10

Andrew: This episode was a pleasant surprise for me. I remember enjoying a lot of these scenes, but I had never really thought about the episode as a whole before, and I thought it worked very well. I feel like I may be overrating this one a bit, as it’s still a level below the season’s best, but I had a really good time re-watching it. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: What’s not to like about this one? It hits a lot of the Seinfeld checkmarks: George is scheming and annoying, Jerry is not interested in the care of others, Elaine is uncomfortable, Kramer has a get rich quick scheme, and Newman is angry. The guest characters, especially Sid, deliver in a huge way. I’m talking GOITER huge! This was a lot of fun. Final Grade: 8/10