Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Parking Garage” (S3, E6)

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!

Seinfeld_[The_Parking_Garage]_(1991)_4

Best Character

Justin: I really hate to cheap out again here, but no way this episode works with any of the Core Four missing. It was the perfect example of an ensemble performance across the board. The dialogue, the exposition, the chemistry, the desperation it was all there and sprayed across the cast equally. I kept debating who to choose, but they were all equally awesome. I loved Elaine devolving into madness, George fretting over time, Jerry alternating between bitching and whipping out zingers and Kramer caring but not really quite caring. The chemistry between all four has developed to an amazing point already and it is on full display here.

Aaron: No one was exceptionally strong in this one for me and since I can’t give it to the guy who tells Elaine he didn’t want to help her, I’ll go with Kramer for all the physical stuff with the air conditioner box. Watching him struggle with the box was pleasant.

Andrew: This is such an ensemble effort that it’s hard to single out a best character, but I guess I would go with Kramer. I enjoy his instigator role more than anyone else’s. Mocking society’s rules about public urination, speculating on Phil Spector’s fetishes, reminiscing about Killer Kowalski: all good stuff. He’s also the least stressed out about finding the car, which makes his performance stand out more. Sometimes the quieter roles are the best, which is an odd sentence to write about Kramer.

Jordan: Like Justin said, this is definitely an episode where everyone complements each other. It’s hard to imagine this one working as well as it did with one of the main characters having a lesser role. If I’m forced to choose, I think I will go with Elaine again – this has been her season to shine so far, and it’s as if the writers are so excited that they finally figured out her character that they keep giving her the spotlight, and she keeps hitting a home run. One reason why I’ll go with Elaine over the others is she ran the gambit of emotions in this one, whereas the other three kind of played it the same the entire episode. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Best Storyline

Justin: Obviously, it is the search for Kramer’s car that takes the cake here. They played it all perfectly, with each having a separate issue going on within the main story. Plus they had the torture of what to do: stay together or split up? Of course, they split-up and the payoff of them finding the car without Kramer, who forgot the location of the air conditioner was perfect.

Aaron: I guess Elaine trying to keep her fish alive? In the end I’d want the fish to live too I suppose. I’d like to think that the longer they end up waiting in the garage, the more appetizing the fish got. Since we know that Elaine freaks out when she gets hungry I’m going to go ahead and assume that she devoured those fish.

Andrew: There’s really just the one storyline, but to pick out one part of it, I think the public urination angle is the best. There’s nothing like an urgent need to use the bathroom to make you question everything you thought you believed in. I also enjoyed Jerry’s increasingly outlandish alibis, especially the pride he took in recreating the “Red Chinese prison” story for George.

Jordan: The hunt for the car. Every other storyline played into it, so how could you go with one of them? The dying fish, the AC unit, Jerry and George’s bladder issues – none of them would matter if they had found the car. I like that it spawned so many little things, like Elaine asking strangers to drive her around, Jerry and George being caught peeing in public and Kramer vanishing when the car finally surfaces. It was a lot of fun.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should you spit or degrade a car that takes up two spaces? Yes, of course. People who park crooked are the laziest, most ignorant, intolerable pieces of garbage in society. There is literally zero reason to do it other than just being a deplorable douchebag. I once had someone defend this action by saying the person “may get in trouble if they are even a minute late for work” and thus parked crooked because they are rushing. Horseshit. A) Don’t be late. B) By parking like a dick, you are making the next guy late because you ate up a parking spot, which can be precious and few and far between for many. Screw you, crooked parkers!

Aaron: What should we do with people who take up two spaces? We should cut their fucking heads off in front of their families. While the blood fountains out of their necks we would then dance a festive dance to “The Humpty Dance,” and celebrate that we finally live in a society where justice is served.

Andrew: If someone parks so as to take up more than one parking spot, is it OK to spit on his car? On the one hand, fuuuuuck that guy. On the other hand, what purpose does spitting on their car serve? If the guy even notices, which seems unlikely, is it going to make him reevaluate his life choices and change his ways? I doubt it. Seems like spitting on the car is only for George’s petty self-satisfaction, which is generally not a wise motive to live your life by.

Jordan: Dear reader, I want you to imagine if this situation took place in real life, in 2014. We would all laugh it up at Elaine fretting over goldfish. Kramer’s physical comedy would be a hoot. The every mundane situations such as forgetting where one parked would resonate with us. And then…Jerry and George would pee in public. And they wouldn’t be held in a parking garage office. They would be arrested. And charged with a crime. And forced to register as sex offenders. All because they had to take a leak. So I ask: should people who get busted for taking a leak in public be on the same list as rapists and other sick, depraved freaks? Not a chance. Thankfully for Jerry and George, this wasn’t a thing back in 1991.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Elaine and her goldfish quickly bonded but that love story was destined for a sad outcome as soon as she walked out of the store with that bag. There is no way somebody like Elaine, who is always out and about and busy with friends or work, is going to put the work in to feed that fish on time. So, as awful as it seems that the poor guy didn’t make it out of the garage, it was going to be an inevitable finish anyway. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Aaron: Hanging and banging takes on a whole new meaning for the two muscled up douche bags in the tank tops who ignore Elaine. There isn’t enough baby oil on earth to satisfy their carnal desires. I would be willing to wager the one in the striped shirt is clearly a power bottom, the other channels his inner Patrick Bateman as he longingly stares at himself in the mirror flexing and screaming in a fit of ecstasy. The love cycle they share together must be awesome: lift weights, bang, pose, watch Grease, repeat. No wonder they didn’t want to give Elaine a ride. Relationship Grade: 7.5 (inches)/10

Andrew: There’s not really a relationship to grade in this episode, but I will say that I admire George’s attempt to overcome the odds and meet a woman in such an unlikely setting. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Jordan: It’s pretty remarkable that Helen Seinfeld waited patiently for her husband to be released from prison. And not just any prison, but a Chinese prison! And not just ANY Chinese prison, a Red Chinese prison! I bet Red ones are the worst ones! Blue prisons are probably not so bad, and maybe the teal ones can get rough here and there, but for Morty to endure a Red Chinese prison and still have a loving wife is something special. Relationship Grade: 10/10

What Worked

Justin: Seeing all the 80s cars in the garage was quite the treat; The premise is super relatable and has happened to everyone; The individual battles within the car search with Kramer carrying the box, Elaine trying to keep her goldfish alive and Jerry’s pee problem; Lots of great observational humor about social interaction blended into this one, including the bit about parents never forgetting a slip-up; I love the little kid trash talking George after George defended him; George’s gallop jog is a thing of beauty; Kramer finally exposing Jerry for being too cautious was good to hear; Jerry’s evolving trail of lies to the cop and the cop acting completely non-plussed was entertaining; George using the car search as an opening to speak to Hot Michelle was quite slick, but of course it backfired; The closing scene is as perfect as it gets.

Aaron: I really did love the scenario they set up for themselves. We’ve all been lost in a parking garage at some point, we’ve all thought someone was driving too fast in a parking lot, we all hate it when someone takes up two spaces but…

Andrew: This is the most “about nothing” episode since “The Chinese Restaurant”, and I’m glad to see them returning to that style. For an episode where not much happens, they do a good job of keeping things interesting with a brisk pace and funny dialogue. I already mentioned how much I enjoyed Kramer’s Spector and Kowalski non-sequiturs, and Jerry’s “uromysitisis poisoning” is a classic. I also enjoyed George’s continuing parental drama, and Elaine getting increasingly upset that none of the passersby care about their plight.

Jordan: Kramer’s physical comedy is always great, and I loved how he put the AC unit in the car. I liked Elaine begging people to drive her around as she held the fish, and that nobody would give her the time of day, then a beautiful woman cheerfully gives George a ride. Interesting that New Yorkers are more apt to drive a short bald stranger around than an attractive woman with fish. The guy who took up two parking spots was a scumbag and I enjoyed George getting ready to spit on the car, then slinking away when the driver showed up as it is classic George. The two bodybuilders’ outfits were EXTREMELY funny, though I’m sure they weren’t supposed to be. Everyone interacting with each other showed off the chemistry of the cast as we had Jerry and Kramer split off, George and Kramer, George and Jerry, and Jerry and Elaine. Everyone plays off each other so well now.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: I never understood how the cop caught George so quickly after he was just sitting around with Jerry, unless there was some hidden camera around that we didn’t see; Not their fault, but the L. Ron Hubbard debate being a reason for Michelle to boot the group out of her is dated; Again, not their fault but this is yet another episode that couldn’t have existed in the cell phone age.

Aaron: Everything felt very flat to me. None of the main characters were even close to being likeable or even very funny in this one for me. It’s not like I could go on and one about what didn’t work either because I was just bored for the majority of the episode. I’m so unmoved by the episode I have to resort to writing about Digital Underground. Everyone but Kramer was just so whiny, and no one really progressed from “I have to pee,” or “my fish will die” or “my parents will be mad.” Just a very one-note twenty two minutes. I thought everyone was trying too hard; when that happens things start to feel forced and stop being funny for me.

Andrew: This is one of those plots that doesn’t work in a world where everyone has a cell phone. That’s about all I can complain about.

Jordan: I didn’t really think Jerry trying to offer up excuses to the cop was that funny. While I liked Elaine asking random strangers for help, the two women who were laughing at her was dumb and didn’t fit with the rest. When Michelle offered to drive George and his friends around and then booted them, it was a weird fast forwardy type thing that doesn’t really make sense. I think maybe she was driving slow and they wanted it to seem otherwise…it just looked wrong.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “You think we’ll hit traffic?” – George “Of course we’ll hit traffic. It’s rush hour.” – Jerry “Isn’t it going the other way?” – Elaine “There is no other way in New York. Everybody goes every way all the time.” – Jerry “But it’s Saturday.” – Elaine “You got the picnic and burger traffic.” – Jerry “There’s picnic traffic?” – Elaine “Well, as my grandfather used to say, sometimes even a picnic’s no picnic” – Jerry

– Jerry, are you aware that adult diapers are a $600 million a year industry?” – Kramer

– “There is too much urinary freedom in this society. I am proud to be holding it, it builds character!” – Jerry

– “It’s purple 23…remember that.” – Kramer

– “I can’t carry a pen…I’m afraid it will puncture my scrotum” – George

– “Didn’t they consult with a urologist when they build these places?” – Jerry

– “Because I could get uromysitisis poisoning and die…that’s why!” – Jerry

– “You know, I’ve been issued a public urination pass by the city for my condition! Unfortunately, my little brother ran out of the house with it this morning. Him and his friends are probably peeing all over the place.” – Jerry

– Kramer notes that the jacket he is wearing was left at his mother’s house by some guy

“And the guy had  afar fetish. Spector never dated a woman under 250 pounds.”  – Kramer “Really?” – George “What did he do with all the fat? Did he jump up and down on it? Did he gouge it like Killer Kowalski?” – Kramer “Who’s Killer Kowalski?” – George “Oh, he was a wrestler…he would get down on his knees and squeeze someone’s stomach until they gave” – Kramer

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Kramer is wearing John D’Amato’s sneakers

– The crew debates what it would take for George’s parents to buy a car phone

– The car stalling at the end of the episode wasn’t scripted

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Brilliant storytelling again in this one, with the entire episode taking place in a parking garage but things never felt unrealistic or boring. As I mentioned above, the improved chemistry was on full display here and the dialogue came fast and was delivered crisply. Everything intertwined and felt legitimate for each character. Of course Jerry had to pee but was too afraid to go in public. And George fretting over his parents being pissed because he is late? Perfect sense too. Kramer nonchalantly loping around talking about old wrestlers and talking Jerry and George into peeing on the floor? Vintage K-Man. And poor Elaine, who finally found true love, forced to suffer thanks to her guy pals. I don’t rank this one as highly as The Pen or The Library because it didn’t have those laugh out loud iconic moments but it was still a tremendous piece of business from start to end. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: I think this may be my least favorite episode I’ve seen so far. A couple of good lines aside (uromysitisis, “We’re not skinheads”) There was just NOTHING going on here. I can deal with my shows being about nothing I can’t deal with them being so boring. This was a major step down for me and a third of the way though SEASON Three there’s just no excuse for this. Final Grade: 1/10

Andrew: The show is on its best run to date, and after two classic episodes that relied heavily on great guest stars, it’s good to see that an episode based almost entirely on the four main characters can reach similar heights. This is one of those quintessential “show about nothing” episodes, where most of the humor comes from the conversations people have in ordinary situations, and I always enjoy that. I’ve seen this one so many times that I know every beat, so I can’t say I was blown away, but it seems unfair to ding it too much for that. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: If you stuck through the bumpy ride of Season One and Two, the payoff is finally here. We are on a roll now, and things are only going to get better. This one isn’t exactly a home run, but it’s a stand up double and maybe even a triple. As I’ve said multiple times, the characters just have terrific chemistry now, and I think Elaine was the key. Once they REALLY figured out how to present her, this thing took off. I love that she’s not the “normal” one in a group of crazies (if anything, Jerry is), she’s just as crazy as the others. This episode almost plays like a highlight reel so far with Kramer doing physical comedy, Elaine slowly going crazy, Jerry making observations in a KIND OF douchy way, and George being terrified, paranoid and angry all at once. Another solid outing from the Seinfeld gang. All we’re really missing now is great guest stars and that’s coming. 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.