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!
Justin: There was some stiff competition here as, for the first time, all four of the main characters clicked at the same time. Uncle Leo was a force in his debut as well and was in contention here. However, I have to go with Morty Seinfeld, portrayed by Barney Martin for the first time. Between his defense of his sports jacket, offhand snarky comments to combat his wife and his obsession with getting discounted plane tickets, Morty was awesome in every scene he appeared in. His frustration boiling over at the end, where he snaps at his nephew and just about calls him a pussy was fantastic. His delivery was great and it was 100% improvement over the original incarnation of Jerry’s father.
Aaron: Kramer all the way with his obsession with turning his whole apartment into some sort of Egyptian palace through levels. This is exactly the kind of wacky antics he should be getting himself into, and while he wasn’t on for very long this episode he was consistently excellent throughout.
Andrew: Everyone is good in this episode, but I’ll go with Jerry. He’s much closer to the character from later seasons in this one. The cockiness of his bet with Kramer, in particular, is a big step forward. The interactions with his parents, Uncle Leo (and Cousin Jeffery, by proxy), the diner scenes – Jerry gets a lot of quality screen time here.
Jordan: I had some trouble deciding between Jerry and Morty, both were great! Jerry is coming off less like a jerk and more just plain funny with his snarkiness, and his complete confidence that Kramer wouldn’t change his apartment to levels was especially fun. In the end though, I’m giving it to Morty – the REAL Morty! I love that he’s more upset that he won’t get a refund on his flight than the fact that Manya died, and his son’s remarks may have killed her.
Justin: Easy choice here as the Pony Remark dominated the episode and provided some iconic moments and quotes as it unfolded. It started with the great family dinner scene with Jerry and Elaine hitting the insult and then Jerry frantically trying to spin his way out of it. Then, Manya died and it forced into Jerry having to decide whether to attend his championship softball game or the funeral. Mixed in is Jerry’s mom basically implying Jerry killed her and the great eulogy that twisted the knife in Jerry’s back. Toss in Uncle Leo and Cousin Jeffrey and this storyline was the best to date in the short life of the show.
Aaron: I’m having a hard time picking out the story in this one. What is it? Is it Jerry trying to get to his softball game? Is it Jerry killing his second cousin? It just felt a little all over the place for me. I guess I’ll go with Jerry assuming responsibility for killing his relative and the fallout.
Andrew: The Manya storyline, I think, is a pivotal moment in the development of the show. The pony remark scene itself is really good, but Manya’s subsequent death really takes it to another level. Playing a character’s death for laughs shows that the series is starting to inject some of the dark and callous humor I love so well.
Jordan: While previous episodes have been hurt by just one main story, this one does not suffer because the main story is excellent. I think what helped is all the characters that were involved had different things going on: Jerry had his softball dilemma, Elaine ended up trying to get another apartment out of the deal, Morty was flustered with the lost money from a plane ticket and Helen wonders if Jerry killed poor Manya. Throw in Uncle Leo’s debut with letting everyone know what a big deal Jeffrey is and we have a winner!
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
Justin: The main dilemma here was whether Jerry should attend the funeral or play in his softball game. And it was a really tough decision. I can say I think Jerry made the wrong choice. He barely knew Manya and it is highly unlikely he killed her. Plus he makes it clear that he doesn’t care much for his family, so he shouldn’t really worry about what they would say. It is not every season that your softball team makes the championship round and he had worked hard to get to that point. Manya would have understood.
Aaron: If you’re a spirit should you attend your own funeral? Now the argument on the nay side would be that you have the whole universe to explore so why would you spend time at your own funeral? Here’s the thing though: you have eternity to see the rest of the universe! You could spend the 45 minutes (or more if you’re nice) watching your loved ones grieve over your stuffed corpse. You may even enjoy/be aroused by it. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you get to be a douche.
Andrew: Do you have to go to the funeral of someone you only met three times? Jerry’s mom gives him an out, saying he’s not obligated, and I think under normal circumstances he could have skipped it. But do you have to go to the funeral if you inadvertently caused that person’s death? I mean, he probably didn’t have anything to do with her dying. But if there’s even the slightest chance, you should probably go the funeral, just to be safe.
Jordan: There is definitely the issue of going to the funeral. This wasn’t someone Jerry saw often or even knew all that well – missing the funeral doesn’t seem like a big deal EXCEPT that it seems like everyone else in the family was there. So it’s a tough call, but I can’t go with it because it solved itself with the rainout. My choice is – did Jerry win the bet or was the bet nullified when Kramer decided against levels? I say Kramer is wrong here and owes Jerry a dinner. The bet wasn’t that Kramer would try and fail, it was that he would fail – regardless of if it was due to lack of effort or not.
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
Justin: Not much going on here. I guess the remnants of Jerry and Elaine: The Couple are still on display, but beyond that it was an episode bereft of romance. That pony was the pride of Krakow. Relationship Grade: N/A
Aaron: Nothing for our main four this week so I’ll focus of Helen and Morty Seinfeld. With Barney Martin taking over the role their chemistry is great and while Helen spends the majority of the episode busting his balls you can tell that they are either still in love or scared to die alone. Either way it makes for an entertaining time. Relationship Grade:10/10
Andrew: I think George said it best: “I cannot envision any circumstance in which I will ever have the opportunity to have sex again.” Relationship Grade: 0/10
Jordan: Manya sure did love her pony. I long to have such a strong bond with someone or something in life. Oh how she loved that pony. Even in her declining years, when she would speak of it, her eyes would light up! Relationship Grade: 10/10
Justin: With the debut of Barney Martin, there is instantly better chemistry with Jerry’s parents; Uncle Leo was fantastic right out of the gate; Kramer’s dedication to renovating his apartment and then backing out of the bet was a great story threaded throughout the pony fiasco and it did not feel shoehorned it at all; The family dinner scene was classic stuff, riddled with great lines; George is starting to be more of a loser, worrying about never having sex again and showing himself to be more of a sad sack than successful and cocky; Elaine has really settled in by this point and is starting to feel like one of the gang as opposed to Jerry’s ex; The argument over whether Jerry should attend the funeral and how the spirit world works was crisp and effective and classic Seinfeld; I liked the callback to Elaine’s obsession with finding a new apartment; The pony eulogy with the indirect pony digs was great; Jerry’s softball karma paid everything off
Aaron: I love the argument with Jerry and Kramer about what constitutes a bet. Kramer not grasping the concept is especially brilliant as he does it while stealing Jerry’s food. The Seinfelds have some pretty funny moments and Jerry outright makes Elaine crack up in the last bit with his “Who would have figured an immigrant would have a pony?” I’m glad that Elaine had a more prominent role and it’s especially fun that they’re starting to introduce characters that expand the Seinfeld universe. Oh and Uncle Leo is pretty good from the start.
Andrew: This episode is a great example of how “Seinfeld” finds the humor in mundane conversation. The diner scenes with Jerry, George and Elaine are very good, but it’s the supporting characters that really shine in this one, especially Uncle Leo and Jerry’s parents. Even the pony remark itself, the main source of tension and drama in the episode, arises from Elaine and Jerry attempting to make idle chit-chat at a family dinner party. It’s good to see one of my favorite elements of the series’ success start to shine through.
Jordan: Practically everything, but here’s one thing that I really liked that becomes a staple of Seinfeld: Before we ever see Uncle Leo, we are TOLD what his quirk is: He grabs your arm and pulls you in close so you can’t escape. The telling of it is kind of funny, but when he ACTUALLY does it, it makes it that much funnier. I love how this show manages to do things like that so brilliantly and to see it this early in the series shows what they were capable of.
What Didn’t Work
Justin: There really wasn’t much here to complain about so I will just say we needed more George.
Aaron: I felt the acting and writing was very, very off in this one. Too many of Jerry’s lines felt very much ripped directly from his standup routine, the pony rant at the table comes to mind. While the concepts may be funny the writing being so awkward ruins it for me. There’s also that weird scene at the diner where George, Jerry and Elaine are talking about how funerals make them feel which just feels forced. Not only is it forced but I feel like they ran out of time and had to do it all in one take, with a lot of strange edits done afterwards. They all sound fake, and while we’ve come to accept it a little from Jerry, it’s weird to see it coming from Elaine and George. I thought the story lacked focus and the show became just about a few funny things that happened, compared to the heavier structure we’d come to love later.
Andrew: I agree with Justin, we needed more George. He and Kramer were good in their limited roles, but I’d like to see them more involved in the main story.
Jordan: Like I said above, almost everything DID work so it’s tough to pick anything here, so I’ll go with my go-to complaint: The wardrobe. Poor Elaine appears to be wearing a mustard yellow trench coat in the last scene for some reason.
Key Character Debuts
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– Debut of Jerry’s softball career
– First mention of the beltless trench coat
– First mention of Cousin Jeffrey, who works for the parks department
– Kramer wants to build levels in his apartment, like Ancient Egypt
– Kramer’s first bet
– “The sugar makes my ankles swell up, and I can’t dance” – Jerry
– “In fact, I hate anyone that ever had a pony growing up” – Jerry ” I had a pony!” – Manya
– “You gotta figure, Oswald even took forty-five minutes” – Jerry
– “It was the pride of Krakow” – Eulogy
– “Who figures an immigrant is gonna have a pony?” – Jerry
Oddities & Fun Facts
– Barney Martin debuts as Morty Seinfeld
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
Justin: This was easily the best episode to date and the first great episode of the series. It was coherent and easy to follow, the dialogue and story was flowing and crisp and it all remained relatable. There will be better episodes to come, but this was an easy instant classic with tons of laughs and historical scenes, plus it laid some more pipes for the future. Oh, and Uncle Leo and Cousin Jeffrey. Awesome. Final Grade: 7/10
Aaron: I was really disappointed in this one. I was expecting “classic episode,” and it just didn’t happen for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but the whole thing just felt awkward to me. There were some funny moments, and the concept as a whole seems solid to me. I just found the execution lacking. Final Grade: 4/10
Andrew: This is probably the first episode that doesn’t have the unpolished, “we’re still figuring things out” feel that characterized the first season. It’s not quite up to the standards of peak “Seinfeld”, as George and Kramer are a little underutilized, and the episode probably could have used a bigger payoff at the end. But there are a lot of quality laughs in this one. If you had told me this was from season 4, I probably would have believed you, which is a big step forward. Also, bonus points for historical significance. Final Grade: 6/10
Jordan: And we FINALLY have a great one! Not that we had to wait long, but it sure felt like it. This episode was genuinely funny and a lot less choppy with the editing than everything we’ve seen so far. Characters are taking shape episode by episode, and we are starting to get some fun from ancillary characters like Morty and Uncle Leo. Easy watch that only gets this low because of how good the show will get down the road. Final Grade: 7/10