Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Pez Dispenser” (S3, E14)

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: I have to go with Jerry in this one as he was the straw that stirred the drink the whole way through. He busted George up about Noelle, then he destroyed her recital and showed no remorse and he capped it off by doing all he could to avoid hosting an intervention for an old friend. He was quick witted throughout and it honesty felt like Jerry turned on the switch since the last episode because he all of a sudden felt like the Jerry we would grow to love.

Aaron: I’m actually at a little bit of a loss on who to pick for this one. While Jerry provided me with the biggest laugh of the episode, eluding to Elaine’s lunacy while she contemplated his metal defectiveness, he was just too inconsistent with his acting to take it for me. I really want to like and get behind is character but the fakeness just alienates me. It doesn’t always take away from the show, it just makes me yearn for the other characters more. So I guess I’ll go with George, as his excitement over Kramer’s idea to break up with Noelle followed by the scene at the coffee shop was pretty tremendous.

Andrew: It’s impossible for me to pick anyone but Elaine; that laugh just kills me. She really nails that feeling of uncontrollable laughter in an unfunny setting. That said, I like her even more in the more understated moments: the awkward conversations with John the Bartender, the great reactions to the Gatorade story, and best of all, her enjoyment of the kangaroo joke. Just awesome from start to finish.

Jordan: I like when I have this problem – at various points of the episode I wanted to give it to everyone! Not because no one stood out like the last episode, but because everyone had excellent moments. I will give this to Jerry, because he had several good lines and the Pez dispenser really carried the whole episode. I love condescending Jerry and would probably rate an entire episode of Jerry berating George a 9.5 out of 10.

Best Storyline

Justin: The Pez, hands down. The recital scene is one of my favorites in the show’s history as I could completely identify with both Jerry and Elaine. Once that laugh kicks in, it is hard to stop it. The Pez dispenser wrecked George’s relationship and saved another man’s life, it was the key to the entire episode.

Aaron: I really like Kramer trying to sell the beach cologne. Urging people to smell his arm is weird and funny on its own, but his pitch to the people at Calvin Klein while looking out the window provide a delusion of grandeur which would make the most arrogant blush. It’s a great little seed that will blossom into a mighty beach smelling tree.

Andrew: All my life, I’ve been plagued by fits of laughter at inappropriate times, so I’m predisposed to choose the Pez dispenser storyline. Adding George’s preemptive breakup strategy makes it a no-brainer. The glee with which he puts his plan into action is fantastic, especially when it’s successful and he finally gets the upper hand.

Jordan: The Pez causing Elaine to laugh. Not only is it funny, it’s something probably everyone knows: when you are in a place you aren’t supposed to be laughing, holding it in is even more difficult, and the end result is never good. Jerry giving Elaine a confused look as she started giggling was great, and his seating the Pez dispenser on the chair when she was gone was even better.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should Elaine have come clean about laughing during the recital? It is a tricky situation because George was really into Noelle and an admission likely ends things outright. Although, perhaps he could have earned points for coming clean, because when she did find out, he was screwed for lying. Elaine has a unique laugh, so there was zero chance George could have a lasting relationship with Noelle and having her never find out who the recital wrecker was.

Aaron: If you walk up to woman who is laughing hysterically and say “was it something I said?” do you deserve to be beaten without mercy? There’s nothing about John Mollica that doesn’t scream creep. From his Russian drug dealer coat to that god damned tissue up his nose. It’s someone who is begging to be beaten with a sack of twenty one turtles and I’d pay good money to see Elaine do it to him. Seriously it has to be one of the most awkward pick up attempts I’ve ever seen. Disgusting.

Andrew: Is it acceptable to invite strangers to someone’s intervention? Probably not. But this one was a half-assed shit-show, so it probably didn’t hurt.

Jordan: Is a pre-emptive breakup really the right call if you are in a relational power struggle? I don’t think so, it’s high risk, low reward. What if she was HAPPY to break up? George’s fragile psyche would take yet another blow. George should have found another way to get HAND.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Seeing George so happy with a high class woman was nice to see, but it turned George into a nervous wreck as a result as he was petrified to screw it all up. The hand stuff was funny and the scene where George turned the tables was great, but in typical George fashion, it all came crashing down in a hurry. Relationship Grade: 5/10

Aaron: George and Noelle seemed like a very happy couple crippled by George’s insecurity. He should have been less worried about getting “hand” and remembered how moved he was by her music at the recital. You don’t break up with a woman you’ve had “the most fun” time in your life with. You cherish her and sit through her boring ass recitals. Relationship Grade: 4/10

Andrew: I’m not a fan of Noelle. She has the musician thing going for her, but goes through some pretty serious mood swings. Generally speaking, when someone you’re breaking up with begs you to stay, it’s best to move on. Relationship Grade: 2/10

Jordan: Let’s be real, this one was doomed from the start. Elaine and Jerry only sped the process up. George is dating a woman who is a concert pianist – something tells me she wouldn’t fall for “I read Venetian Blinds by Art Vandelay.” George is out of his league here and he should just be happy he was with her for any period of time. Relationship Grade: MIKE LUPICA/10

What Worked

Justin: I enjoyed how Jerry didn’t hear any of George’s gushing about Noelle; The Pez incident is legendary and still hilarious, Elaine just losing it inappropriately is very relatable and I will never not laugh at Jerry clapping while holding the dispenser; Jerry being key to the intervention is pretty much his worst nightmare; George having no hand is very George; Something clicked with Jerry in this one and he felt completely different, more at ease, more quick witted and believable; Kramer’s preemptive breakup idea to swing power was tremendous and George’s demands were great; John trying to flirt with Elaine with tissue jammed up his nose was funny; Kramer screwing up the intervention was fully expected; I love that Elaine’s laugh was exposed by the polar bear’s lame joke; Nice closure with the Pez dispenser saving Richie.

Aaron: Jerry going back to calling George “Biff” is a nice callback to The Subway. There’s a wide eyed innocence to Kramer wanting to “get in on” the intervention which are the exact reasons we like him and can laugh at him suggesting George break up with Noelle. I thought the writing was pretty solid here too (albeit not hilarious) as I wasn’t sure where they were going with the polar bear stuff, but it bled in nicely with the cologne and finally exposing Elaine’s laugh. Elaine was pretty great in the episode and her suggestion of everyone hiding for the intervention may have potentially led to a hilarious heart attack. I must point out the awesomeness of the single angriest houseguest in the history of the show who is absolutely furious he has to drink warm Pepsi. I only wish the other guest stars (and title character) had been as committed as him.

Andrew: I really liked that the plot consisted of a chain of events set off by the Pez incident, tying everything in to Jerry’s random, goofy urge to put the dispenser on Elaine’s leg. It makes the overall story feel more complete and well thought out, qualities I thought were missing in the last few episodes. I enjoyed the cuts between John saying how much Richie respects Jerry, and Jerry doing something silly with the PEZ dispenser. Kramer’s polar bear buddies were hilarious, as was George’s performance in the breakup scene.

Jordan: The entire concert scene and subsequent talk outside Noelle’s dressing room was classic. Elaine’s struggle not to laugh was done so well, and Jerry and George reacted to her perfectly too: Jerry with confusion and George with anger. I always love when Jerry just craps all over George, completely dismissing and/or mocking him. Elaine and George getting into a little slapfight was fun, and I’m pretty sure Elaine would win handily. I also really liked John talking about how great of a guy Jerry is and then cutting to him clapping with the Pez dispenser like a child. Kramer’s cologne storyline was good for some filler, and his pitch in the office was great. I love that even when he’s just talking, Kramer finds a way to use physical comedy, even if it’s just in over-exaggerated flailing.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Jerry and Elaine are in a different booth at Monk’s and it feels weird; The guy angry about the warm soda is a bit off-putting.

Aaron: I really felt they were trying waaaaaaaaaay too hard to get over the expression “hand”. I guess there’s a reason it’s forgotten in the pantheon of Seinfeldisms. I didn’t love the actress playing Noelle, I thought she was a little weak. Jerry just takes me out of it though. He’s great with the one liners, but as soon as he has to say anything over five words long I start to cringe. Like I said, the best part of the episode for him was when he sarcastically called out Elaine, which required him to sound fake to be effective. At least they played to his strengths. Also no one is dressed like a functional human being at that intervention, especially Lou Albano’s ex-wife.

Andrew: Noelle’s acting was strange, and the way she said “crossword PUZZLE” really bugged me. The Calvin Klein marketing guy had over-acting issues of his own.

Jordan: The guy getting furious at Jerry not having ice was a real jerk, and what was the point of that interaction anyway? I’m really reaching for stuff that didn’t work here.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “No everything is not going good. I’m very uncomfortable. I have no power. I mean, why should she have the upper hand. *Once* in my life I would like the upper hand. I have no hand– no hand at all. She has the hand; I have *no* hand…” – George

– The quest to gain “hand” is first introduced

– “Want one? Yeah, I just bought it at the Flea Market.” – Kramer “Hey, what goes on there, exactly?” – George “You don’t know?” – Jerry “No, I-I-I know…I know…” – George “You think they have fleas there, don’t you?” – Jerry “No…” – George “Yes you do, Biff. You’ve never been to a Flea Market, and you think they have fleas there.” – Jerry “All right, I think they have fleas there. So what…” – George

– Jerry once again refers to George as Biff

– “Uh, can we cut to the chase?” – George “Cut to the chase?” – Jerry “Yeah…” – George “What’re you, “Joe Hollywood”?” – Jerry “A lot of people say it.” – George “I would lose that.” – Jerry “What’s that?” – George “Lose that? That’s not a Hollywood expression!” – Jerry “…Yes it is.” – George

– “You play a hell of a piano!” – Jerry

– “Richie was never the same…” – Jerry “What about Kramer?” – Elaine “He’s the same…” – Jerry

– Kramer first introduces his idea for a cologne called “The Beach”

– “I was so nervous before I called I made up this whole list of things to talk about.” – George “What was on the list?” – Jerry “Let’s see, How I’m very good at going in reverse in my car, why isn’t Postum a more popular drink…” – George “Yeah, Postum is underrated…” – Jerry

– “I’ll never do another crossword puzzle with her again. I know it.” – George “I like the Jumble You ever do the Jumble?” – Kramer

– “Do you think people are going to pay $80 a bottle to smell like dead fish and sea weed? That’s why people take showers when the come home from the beach. It’s an objectionable offensive odor.” – Steve “So you don’t think it’s a good idea?” – Kramer

– “Is this the interference?” – Kramer “Intervention!” – Jerry

– “I’ve got so much hand, I’m coming out of my gloves!” – George

– “I am breaking up with you…” – Noelle “You can’t break up with me! I’ve got hand!” – George “And you’re gonna need it!” – Noelle

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Interventions were the new trend in drug rehabilitation

– Kramer was an all-star softball first baseman

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: I have always been a big fan of this episode as the Pez on the knee was such a small thing but it ended up causing so many issues. That whole scene was so absurdly ridiculous it was great, from top to bottom. Kramer’s cologne campaign kicks off here too, adding another layer to a historically memorable episode. The intervention stuff was fine and was really just the backdrop for the chaos at the end, which was a good use of it. A really strong effort this time out, with good laugh out loud moments and historically important gags and scenes. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: This is a frustrating one on a lot of levels. There’s some great stuff, but most of it fell flat for me. I think when Jerry has to carry the bulk of the story the show is always a cut below what it can be. Lately his fakeness has been generally covered up by everyone else, here they had less to do so the episode suffered. I also felt the guest stars were not up to snuff with what we’ve been used to (except for angry Pepsi guy), we’re a long way from Lt. Bookman. A lot of good to great pieces here including the writing, but too much Jerry hurts this one for me. Final Grade: 5/10 

Andrew: This was my favorite episode in a while, and might be one of my favorites overall. I just never get tired of the Pez dispenser scene, and I love the idea of basing an entire episode on something so ridiculous. This season has had really solid acting and humor, and with the plot and writing reaching the same level, this episode feels like a milestone in the series’ development. I also found myself laughing out loud more than usual, which is generally a good sign. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: Loved this one. A tiny Pez dispenser is the root cause of a break up AND a man recovering from addiction. Everyone played their roles so well here (even Jerry!) and the chemistry is off the charts at this point. It’s not just Jerry and his friends anymore, the rest of the gang has depth with each other-George and Elaine fighting was one of my favorite parts of the episode. Kramer’s cologne quest was a nice distraction from the main story as I already mentioned. If I were to rate it down at all, I thought the actual intervention was a bit odd and somewhat over the top with the rude guy asking for ice and the polar bear club showing up. But that’s a minor complaint to a great episode. Final Grade: 8/10

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.