Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Pick” (S4, E13)

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: This is a real tough one because I thought everyone was excellent. So, I am going to cop out and give it to Elaine and George in a tie. Both were tremendous in very different storylines. Elaine goes from being so excited about her relationship and perfect Christmas Card to just buried in humiliation thanks to another Kramer screwup, and as always her meltdown is perfectly done. George is just a mess of a man throughout, from his pining over Susan to his jacket problems to his death march up the stairs, he had it all going on here. Shoutout to Kramer’s ass too.

Aaron: He’s sexual, athletic, without a trace of self-consciousness and he barely squeaks this one out over Elaine. Kramer makes the absurdity of the “little man” inside someone work and then progressively gets funnier with each appearance. His line reading on “I need to borrow your dust buster” is gold and the outrage he exudes towards Calvin Klein (who he doesn’t want any trouble with) is palpable. That on its own would make him a contender but then we get the modeling scene. Breathtaking. Graceful. Sublime. There are no words. Such a classic moment and a tour de force performance.

Andrew: Everyone is good in this one, but Kramer is just a touch better than the rest. He’s solid throughout, from forcing his way into Jerry’s apartment, to showing Elaine his nipples, to the meeting with Calvin Klein. But the modeling scene is on another level, and the pratfall while posing is among the most memorable Kramer moments.

Jordan: Tough call this time around. I feel like three of the four had great moments – George with his stuck zipper, Elaine giving George his “Christmas card”, and Kramer strutting his stuff for Calvin Klein. I think of those three, Kramer’s was the best moment, with Elaine’s a close second. Factor in his interaction with Tia and being responsible for #nipplegate and he gets the nod here. Great job from the K-Man!

Best Storyline

Justin: The nipple. Even if you weren’t aware of what Seinfeld was, you probably heard about the Nipple Christmas Card. This season has been packed with iconic pop culture crossover moments, and this was yet another one for the pantheon. I always enjoyed Jerry and Kramer showing theirs to help comfort Elaine, as well as all her co-workers calling her “Nip”.

Aaron: The lamentable tragedy of Nip. Oh man, Julia Louis Dreyfuss is brilliant in this one. She’s so good at playing the victim. Really she should have known better than to go into Kramer’s apartment for a picture, but the sheer amount of explanations this poor woman has to dole out would break a weaker/prouder woman. Her violating/pleasuring George with her Christmas card is one of my favorite moments of the show as is her colleague flippantly referring to her as Nip. All she wanted to do was send out a nice Christmas card and it failed as spectacularly as any Christmas card ever has. Just awesome stuff. 

Andrew: I liked Elaine’s Christmas card story the most; it’s certainly the plotline I remember the most from this episode. It would be hard not to have empathy for that kind of public humiliation, and the “Nip” nickname really hammers the point home. I also like that we never actually see the picture, letting the audience’s imagination run with it. And like Kramer’s fall, the “Here’s your Christmas card!” scene is one of my all-time favorites.

Jordan: It’s the nipple. Poor Elaine, this is probably why she’s always dressing like a character from Little House on the Prairie. She changes it up ONE time and BOOM, everyone she knows gets a peek at the goods. The fact that it was on a Christmas card makes it even funnier, and her co-workers calling her Nip is just hilarious.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should Tia have given poor Jerry a better chance to prove himself innocent of the pick? I think so. Once she gets to know Jerome, she will see that he is a neat freak and an OCD maniac that would probably never even blow his nose, let alone pick it.

Aaron: Was Moses a picker? While it may be safe to say that George was on to something with the fact that he’s been wandering the dry desert and would need the occasional pick, we shouldn’t overlook the fact that he was raised a royal of the Egyptian court. In my extensive research of the region I have yet to uncover one piece of evidence that would suggest that the Pharaohs and their people picked their noses. Nothing in hieroglyphics, nothing in the exhumed tombs of the Pharaohs and their fucking cats, NOTHING! In fact the one mention I did see nose pickers were ostracized and punished by being shamed and sodomized beneath the statue of Anubis at the start of the vernal equinox. Also why did the Pharaohs bury their cats alive? That’s some fucked up shit.

Andrew: What is the proper reaction when you’ve unintentionally seen someone in a state of undress? It’s probably not cool to start teasing them about it, (at least not right away), but there is such a thing as trying too hard to act normal. Or as I once heard it, “Just because you’ve seen my nipples doesn’t mean we’re friends.” In a tough situation like this I generally fall back on my Catholic education: deny, repress, and pretend it’s not awkward.

Jordan: If you don’t have a clear view of the full nose, should you jump to the conclusion that it’s a pick? I’m sure it didn’t look good from Tia’s perspective, but Jerry’s explanation was plausible – because it was true! People get itchy noses. Cut Jerry some slack.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: George and Susan are meant to be. You know how I know? He was trapped in that death march to her apartment. A face and mindset that screams “we are together forever”. Elaine and Fred would never last mainly because his name is Fred. Relationship Grade: Till Death Do Us Part/10

Aaron: What’s such a liberal and open (for business) woman doing dating a religious guy? Fred and Elaine were probably as doomed as the people Moses threw the god damn tablets on at the end of that documentary. Elaine while a paragon of class to us fans is, in her heart, a pretty salacious woman. That’s why we love her. That’s why she shouldn’t date the religious. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Andrew: Fred was a real dud, and way too uptight for Elaine. Tia was a bit quick to kick Jerry to the curb, but I suppose models can afford to be selective, and there are certainly worse reasons to break up with someone. Relationship Grade: 2/10

Jordan: Lots going on here. George misses Susan until he gets her back. Elaine’s showing everyone but her boyfriend her nipples, and Jerry’s supermodel girlfriend dumps him over a misconstrued scratch. Nobody is looking good coming out of this one. Relationship Grade: PickNip/10

What Worked

Justin: The laundry discussion and George’s dramatic about face on Susan is really good; Jerry’s comments about flushing the fish made me laugh out loud; The return of The Beach and Kramer sniffing it out; George’s zipper fiasco is very identifiable; The Nipple became another iconic moment in a season chock full of them; Newman immediately spotting the nipple and then leaving was great; Estelle paying for George’s therapy is perfect; The Pick; Elaine giving George a personal Christmas Card; George’s web of lies when trying to convince Susan to take him back was awe inspiring; George’s face while walking up the stairs was a great payoff to earlier; Kramer in the underwear is a classic moment; George using the pick to get back out of his relationship with Susan wrapped things up perfectly, almost as well as Kramer’s junk possibly showing in his modeling pictures

Aaron: The writing of this one is so perfect. We start with Jerry not giving a shit about George missing Susan and we end with regretful George using Jerry’s plight to get out of a relationship he shouldn’t have just gotten back in to in the first place. Jerry’s at his best when he’s the insensitive prick and he’s in fine form here. George is strong with all of his pain that immediately switches to regret as he climbs the stairs to his own personal Eastern State Penitentiary (I was there this week!). George loved her damnit! He just didn’t like her one bit. His bits with the psychiatrist is immediately derailed by his zipper which of course climaxes with Dana getting involved and more incensed than he was to begin with. That’s just the effect he has on people. An all-time dick moment is George trying to convince Susan to get back with him by referencing Louis Pasteur who he clearly has no clue about. He doesn’t know what he or Pasteurization are and him dancing around the “facts” is a dance of dickish beauty. I’ve already talked about how great Elaine was but her answering the guys from the bathroom just proves my point a little more about her staying away from the holy. Finally is there a more perfect reading than Newman’s ” Yeah, your nipple is showing”? Just great stuff.

Andrew: George’s pining after Susan was very funny, and perfect for the character, as he once again becomes obsessed with what he can’t have. His face walking up the stairs after getting her back was perfect, like a man walking to his own execution, and having him use “The Pick” to get out of the relationship was a nice touch. I also enjoyed him singing “The Most Beautiful Girl”, and the way that Jerry refused to put up with his self-pity. Newman had a great efficiency rating, getting a solid laugh in his brief appearance. Jerry’s Elephant Man reference was fun, and putting his and Elaine’s dramatic speeches back to back worked well.

Jordan: George singing about Susan and wallowing in his own misery over losing her is great, and made better by Jerry’s total disregard for all of it. I also liked George’s visit to the psychiatrist and his fixation on the zipper. Jerry is good throughout, and I think it’s fun when he is the one who GETS dumped over something superficial rather than doing the dumping. I also like when he knew Kramer was about to come over and trying to block the door. Kramer trying to measure up with Tia was funny, and of course his scene at Calvin Klein is a classic. I love that he’s got shoes and socks on as he saunters around in his briefs. Elaine does a marvelous job throughout, just totally melting down over the card situation, and shoving George’s head into her chest. Newman is great as always.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: George’s orange sweater is brutally ugly; How does Jerry know the modeling agency’s phone number?;  Tia met a guy on decent looking airplane and was charmed enough to date him, but won’t even give him a chance to explain the pick?; Jerry’s speech outside the elevator and Elaine’s speech about the nipple exposure back to back felt too forced

Aaron: I wasn’t so into the picking stuff, but it wasn’t on screen long enough to hurt. If nothing else it tied everything in despite the fact it wasn’t the most interesting Jerry story. George singing is a bit much, and almost out of character. Almost.

Andrew: The opening musical sting seemed a bit off. There’s no mention of George’s air travel experience from the previous episode, but maybe he’s just not ready to talk about it yet. I don’t like not finding out what part of Kramer’s anatomy was visible in his ad; sometimes not knowing is funnier, but in this case I think it detracted a bit from the ending.

Jordan: I like a Newman appearance, but it should have been Kramer that went and got him, not Jerry. I have to wonder if NBC was a little hesitant about naming this episode “The Nipple”, because calling it “The Pick” is strange to me. Clearly the nipple story is the strong point of the episode.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “I loved her Jerry, I loved her.” – George “No, you didn’t.” – Jerry “And she loved me. Hoo, ho, she really did.” – George “No she didn’t.” – Jerry “What am I going to do now? I can’t live without Susan. I gotta get her back. How? How, am I gonna get her back?” – George “Not only didn’t you love her, you didn’t even like her.” – Elaine “Who says?” – George “You did.” – Elaine

– “You need some professional advice. Why don’t you go see Elaine’s friend? She’s a therapist.” – Jerry “I’m not going to see that nut doctor she went to Europe with.” – George

– “Now what does the little man inside you say? See you gotta listen to the little man.” – Kramer “My little man doesn’t know.” – George “The little man knows all.” – Kramer “My little man’s an idiot.” – George

– “Now, you come on over. I’ll have my cereal and I’ll take your picture.” – Kramer

– “So, I’m thinking of putting in a tropical fish tank right here.” – Jerry “Are you sure you’re ready for that kind of commitment?” – Tia “Well, I figure if it doesn’t work out I can always flush them down the toilet.” – Jerry

– Tia is the model for Calvin Klein’s The Beach cologne, which Kramer pitched to them previously

– “Oh, volunteer work!. See that’s what I like about the holiday season. That’s the true spirit of Christmas. People being helped by people other than me. That makes me feel good inside. Look at what we have here.” – Jerry

– Elaine’s Christmas Card includes an exposed nipple, which becomes iconic in pop culture

– “Oh God I didn’t notice. Oh, what am I going to do? You know your whole life you go through painstaking efforts to hide your nipple and then BOOM, suddenly hundreds of people get their own personal shot of it.” – Elaine

– “Was it a scratch? Or a pick?” – George

– Pick vs. Scratch is another pop culture icon

– Is that so unforgivable? Is that like breaking a commandment? Did God say to Moses thou shalt not pick?” – Jerry “I guarantee you that Moses was a picker. You wander through the desert for forty years with that dry air…You telling me you’re not going to have occasion to clean house a little bit.” – George

– “You cannot believe what I’m going through. That card is plastered all over the office. Everybody is calling me, Nip! Yeah. That’s my new nickname at the office. Nip! These guys keep asking me out for drinks.” – George

– “I can’t She won’t return my calls because she caught me in a pick at a light.” – Jerry “I thought you said it was a scratch.” – Kramer

– “I’m not stable? I’m like a rock. I take these glasses off, you can’t tell the difference between me and a rock. I put these glasses on a rock. You know what jumps into most people’s minds? Costanza!” – George “People don’t change.” – Susan “I change I change. Two weeks ago I tried a soft boiled egg. Never liked it before. Now I’m dunkin a piece of toast in there and I’m loving it.” – George “I’m not a soft boiled egg.” – Susan “And I am not a piece of toast.” – Susan

– “That’s okay. That’s good. You think Louie Pasteur and his wife had anything in common? He was in the fields all day with the cows, you know with the milk, examining the milk, delving into milk, consumed with milk. Pasteurization, Homogenization, She was in the kitchen killing cockroaches with a boot on each hand.” – George “Why were there so many cockroaches?” – Susan “Because. There was a lot of cake lying around the house. Just sitting there going with all the excess milk from all the experiments.” – George “And they got along?” – Susan “Yes! Yes. You know. She didn’t know about Pasteurization. He didn’t know about Fumigation. But they made it work!” – George

– “You’re very lean, but muscular…” – Calvin “You know, I try to take care of myself. I – I watch what I eat. Ah, just recently I cut out fructose.” – Kramer “You’re spectacular.” – Calvin

– “My…he’s sexual, athletic…and without a trace of self-consciousness!” – Executive #1 “His buttocks are sublime!” – Klein “Of course, his pectorals could use a little work – I suppose we could get him into the weight room.” – Executive #2

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Kramer owns professional photography equipment

– Calvin Klein is not portrayed by himself

– Elaine has a sister named Gail and a nephew

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This was a really good episode stuffed with great lines, classic quotes and multiple iconic pop culture moments in the pick and the nip. You could even toss in Kramer’s underwear modeling, which was pretty well known as well. The acting was very good across the board, including the guest stars. Plus Newman’s cameo was tremendous. This may not be remembered as a true classic, but it was a very solid outing with very little wasted time or down moments. Final Grade: 8/10

Aaron: I can’t believe how many classic moments are in this episode. I was expecting the pick stuff but had no clue that this was the Nip and Calvin Klein episode. Great writing and fantastic performances all around. I loved this one, and while I may take flak for rating The Pick this high I think it’s a sneaky contender for greatest of all time. Final Grade: 10/10

Andrew: I liked this episode more than I remembered, which is always nice. It’s still not up to the level of “The Contest”, but is a clear step up from last week, with a higher success rate on the jokes and memorable lines all over the place. The powerhouse fourth season keeps rolling along. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: Everyone delivered here. I am glad that the pick itself wasn’t focused on as much as the Christmas card fiasco, as that was a better story and Elaine freaking out is always awesome. I feel like as I write my overalls for season 4, I’m getting repetitive, because the show is on such a roll. Another great one. Final Grade: 9/10

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.