Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Pothole” (S8, E16)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, JT Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan, Jordan Duncan and Jason Greenhouse 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

JT: I enjoyed pretty much everyone, despite the faults of the episode, but I really thought Kramer had the most hits throughout. Every line he delivered about that fucking highway was said with such dedication and love that he drew you right into the storyline. Everything he did was so illegal but done from the heart and it ends with him sending Newman and his flounder up in flames. Taking down the signs, widening the lanes, stealing a chain, spilling ammonia, he did it all in this one.

Aaron: Kramer is positively jubilant at the prospect of becoming a “parent” all while putting on the best high speed highway crossing since Jiff Ramsay. So for me it’s an easy win for the K-Man.

Andrew: I’ll go with Elaine. I can identify with a character going to absurd lengths to satisfy an obsessive craving for food. The janitor stuff was good too, and I enjoyed her warning Jerry that he crossing into disorder/dementia territory.

Jordan: I always like when Elaine cooks up a nice Costanza-like scheme, so I’m going with her. Hanging out in the janitor closet of a building she doesn’t even live in just for some flounder is pretty good. I also like her mocking Jerry’s disgust over not being able to kiss Jenna. She also handles the whiny Mrs. Allister with grace and dignity and that is why I love her and would gladly marry her.

Jason: Jerry gets the nod from me. His reasoning for not wanting to kiss Jenna was understandable. She used her toothbrush after it fell in the toilet. In addition, him sterilizing her mouth, slipping up about the toothbrush dropping in the toilet and going in panic mode trying to figure out what item of his she dropped in the toilet were all great. An honorable mention goes to Kramer. Joining the Adopt a Highway program and the dedication he puts in to cleaning up his mile was a lot of fun.

Best Storyline

JT: Again, I thought everything worked well enough but Kramer’s highway storyline was consistently funny and cracked me up the whole time. It started well and built to this amazing peak of Newman being burnt to a crisp in his mail truck while bootlegging flounder. So great.

Aaron: I’d go with the moment where Kramer’s highway crosses paths with Elaine’s garbage. Sure it’s small but it culminates in Newman’s truck becoming a living, breathing inferno.

Andrew: I guess Kramer’s highway storyline? Whichever storyline you’d say ends with Newman’s fireball, really. That’s still the best part of the episode. I also enjoyed him refusing to pay for a cleaning crew, “with all their so-called maintenance equipment”.

Jordan: Elaine’s Chinese food scam. I like that her apartment IS the boundary line – if they deliver to her, then what? Mexico? The delivery guy eyeing her up nervously as she meets him outside is funny, and I like when everyone winds up in her “apartment”. Kramer borrowing the giant chain as he leaves was awesome.

Jason: Kramer adopting a highway mile. All of his antics that lead up to the big pay off at the end with the sewing machine getting caught under Newman’s truck and sparking a fire from the paint thinner Kramer laid on his mile tied in together excellent.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Kramer really was on to something with his bitching about the failing infrastructure of America. Ahead of his time. I mean, it is ridiculous to think a zany celebrity with zero political background and a public incident based on racism could be president, but perhaps he could run and raise his concerns to the country from that perch?

Aaron: The Chinese restaurant’s address limitations are as ruthless as they are absurd. I want to say that we live in a world where a business would gladly cross the street to make couple of extra bucks but sadly, I simply cannot. A few years ago I bought a couch from IKEA. I was happy to pay for delivery, until they balked at the fact that I lived on the fourth floor instead of the “accepted” third floor. I was livid. They said they would deliver it to the third floor and leave it here for me but FUCK THAT! So I did what every sane person would do. I strapped that sofa to the roof of my car, destroying my car and my father’s back who had generously offered to help. Joke was on me though my cats destroyed the couch. I have yet to destroy them.

Andrew: Is it OK to try to convince a restaurant to deliver outside their delivery area? It does feel unfair to be just outside the border, but they do have to draw the line somewhere. Maybe try offering to pay extra before you start ranting about “address discrimination”.

Jordan: Is it the responsibility of a janitor to make sure kids don’t put garbage in their mouth? I feel like this is bad parenting. Yes, a janitor is responsible for cleaning up the trash and making sure the apartment is in fine living conditions-but seriously, who has a kid that eats garbage? And we’re not talking an eclair out of the top of the trash! I’m picturing a giant pile of filth. Someone should report those parents to CPS.

Jason: If someone uses a toothbrush that fell in the toilet, should you kiss them?  Nope!  Piss and poop were also in the toilet at some point.  If a key says, “do not duplicate”, does that meaning anything to you?  Me either.  Take that bad boy to Home Depot and get a spare made.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Jenna is way too good for Jerry. He botched that one big time. She should have dunked him and his flared nostrils in the toilet. Relationship Grade: 100,000 Revolutions/10

Aaron: Jerry’s an idiot for not hanging on to the woman from Sex in The City. So the toothbrush was in the toilet? You mean to tell me that that woman’s tongue has not been in some scumbag’s moth. I would rather put my mouth in a toilet than make out with that sleazy Dan Rather. Who knows where else her mouth has been? You can’t think of these things! They don’t matter. Soon you’ll be picturing all the penises that may or may not have been in there. It’s a rabbit hole from which there is no discernible escape. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Andrew: I thought Jenna had a really good sense of humor about the whole “toothbrush in the toilet” thing. She is clearly too emotionally healthy to be dating Jerry. Relationship Grade: Just eating away at you isn’t it?/10

Jordan: Jenna’s very pretty and she seems normal as well. Jerry is the weirdo here for being unable to get over the toothbrush in the toilet after what was at LEAST several days, if not weeks. The fact that Jenna was just toying with him by putting the toilet brush in his toilet was good stuff. Relationship Grade: Have a nice life/10

Jason: Despite having a mouth and later body full of toilet water, Jenna was a nice catch for Jerry. Kramer should have closed off his mile and dry humped the road. Relationship Grade: Mile 114/10

What Worked:

JT: Jenna’s unknowing big grin as she brushed her teeth was pretty funny; I like George calling Jerry finicky, prissy and fastidious; Kramer mixing up Phil Rizzuto for Richard Nixon; The China Panda phone guy giving the half ass “yeah first time” cracked me up; Elaine’s funny voice while tricking China Panda; George listening to the “Do Not Duplicate” warning on his keys; I always laugh at the “Holy Cow” coming up from under the pothole and Jerry calling him a “poor son of a bitch” gets me every time; Jerry clearly tricking his girlfriend into using bleach as mouthwash was next level OCD; Kramer cleaning the highway and diving across the lanes of oncoming traffic to grab a can was fantastic, as was Kramer taking all the signs into Jerry’s apartment to clean them and then bragging about wheeling the big trash items into the woods; Kramer telling George to contact him at the emergency call box; Jerry’s tool shed line is amazing as is Kramer asking where it was minutes later; Newman running fish on the weekends is peak Newman; The maintenance guy trolling George and mocking h is snort was good; Kramer painting over the lane lines while spilling paint all over the seat of his car is peak Kramer; Everyone packed into Elaine’s “apartment” is a great parody of how the foursome always somehow finds each other when needed; Kramer “borrowing” the random rusted chain; Jerry sleeping in his car to avoid the apartment; Jerry leaving Jenna to clean herself up and telling her to “Have a nice life” is as shitty as it gets; Newman singing before getting lit up in flames is a GOAT scene

Aaron: I love that George had to sit down on a bench for twenty minutes to an hour in order to figure out if a muffin was more appropriate than a cake for breakfast. His panic over losing his keys was a little too familiar. All the Kramer stuff with the highway lands including Jerry’s incredulous look when he’s informed of the widening of the lanes. Elaine’s neighbor not understanding anything she was trying to tell him was spot on and the entire staff of that restaurant falls squarely into the unreasonable side character menagerie the show has been building up for years. Jerry and Kramer laughing at George respecting the do not duplicate on his keys was fun and I really appreciated that they bothered to tell us why Elaine wouldn’t just go to the fucking restaurant for the flounder. Sure it was the flimsiest of excuses clearly put in at the last minute but at least they cared!

Andrew: George’s theory about the germs in the toilet being knocked out by the impact of the toothbrush, and then not having time to react, always gets me. Jerry and Kramer mocking him for following the “Do Not Duplicate” directive on his keys is another personal favorite. George being annoyed by the maintenance worker, and the flying Rizzuto head, are really solid. Kramer putting traffic cones on his car and hanging out the side to paint over the lane lines is a great visual, and him taking the “Adopt a Highway” thing literally was a great plot idea. Elaine growing more and more obsessed with scamming the Chinese delivery guy is fun. Newman singing “Three Times a Lady” before going up in flames is still the best.

Jordan: I liked Jerry’s freakout over the toothbrush, and definitely sympathize with his initial disgust. Kramer’s adoption of a mile of highway provides some fun with the lane lines, bringing all the signs to Jerry’s apartment for cleaning and the big finale of Newman being burned alive with a mail truck full of flounder. Elaine giving George the casual nod as she lugs carpet down the street while he’s jackhammering in the road was a funny moment. I also liked the construction guy mocking George’s sniff. Newman’s stirring rendition of “Three Times a Lady” really moves me.

Jason: The toilet camera when Jerry drops the toothbrush in there; Jerry grabbing the toothbrush out followed by Jenna brushing away; finicky? prissy? fastidious?; Jerry asking if they actually had to squeeze Rizzuto’s head for him to say, “holy cow”; Kramer dropping the sewing machine on the table; Kramer thinking that the Rizzuto key chain is a “talking Nixon”; supreme flounder; the restaurant guy giving Elaine shit about the delivery boundaries; Kramer breaking out the cigars to celebrate is mile; the delivery guy being on to Elaine lying about her address; address discrimination; George’s broad jump; “HOLY COW” as cars drive over the pothole; Jerry running down the electric toothbrush description and ceiling the old brush in a zip lock; Kramer cleaning the road signs in Jerry’s kitchen; speed limit 165 MPH; emergency call box 784; Jerry’s excuses why he can’t kiss Jenna, slipping up and tossing almost everything away after she drops something of his in the toilet; Elaine fucking with Jerry about what Jenna could have dropped in the toilet; Jerry’s tool shed; apartment 1Q; George and the construction guy bargaining; “Yeah…it’s about money.”; two-lane comfort cruise; the super laying into Elaine because she thinks she’s the janitor; the gang meeting up in the janitor’s closet; hard labor fantasy camp; George jackhammering; Elaine and George’s head nod on the street; George busting the water main; “HOLY COW” as the key chain flies out; water bursting out of Jenna’s toilet; Jerry dumping Jenna and telling her to have a nice life; Newman  singing Three Times a Lady, the entire end sequence with the sewing machine, Newman’s truck and the paint thinner; OH THE HUMANITY!!!

What Didn’t Work

JT: How did Jenna possibly get that much toothpaste on the toothbrush and be mid-brushing in those few seconds Jerry washed his hands?; Why didn’t Elaine just walk her lazy ass over to the restaurant if she wanted the food so bad?; Also, why would the delivery guy take the food back? What a waste, you are already there, just let her have it; And, if Elaine is ordering THAT much flounder, just take her money and shut up!;

Aaron: Was George homeless the entire time that his keys were missing? I mean based on his words it would appear so, but we’re never given confirmation. We couldn’t get one scene of him crashing with Frank and Estelle?

Andrew: This episode doesn’t give George much to do. He gets plenty of opportunities over the course of the series, so there’s nothing wrong with focusing on the other characters here, but it stills lowers the ceiling of the episode. Also, I just wish the episode had been funnier. That always feels like a lazy complaint, but I don’t know how else to phrase it. Maybe the show has just spoiled me at this point, but I know it’s capable of more.

Jordan: Was not a fan of the key chain story with George. It was basically the 4th story in the episode though, so it doesn’t bother me too much, but it felt like a swing and a miss. HOLY COW I JUST MADE A BASEBALL REFERENCE WHILE TALKING ABOUT PHIL RIZZUTO’S BOBBLEHEAD KEYCHAIN.

Jason: Elaine really bombed it with the neighbor guy. He didn’t fall for her crap for one second. How come all of a sudden Jenna’s apartment is right near the pot hole?

Key Character Debuts

– Jenna

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Ah, baking soda. Annoying little product. ‘I can do this. I can do that.’ Why doesn’t this stuff just shut up?” – Jerry

– “So I’m sure whatever germs it landed on were knocked out, and by the time the rest of them realised what was going on, you had already grabbed it out.” – George “How many years of med school did you have?” – Jerry

– “They don’t actually have to squeeze his head to get him to say ‘holy cow’, do they?” – Jerry “Just the last few innings of a double-header.” – George

– “Yeah, I’m part of the solution now Jerry. Yeah, I went down there and I checked it out this morning. Here, take a look. Mile one-fourteen.” – Kramer “Aw, looks just like you.” – Jerry “Aw, I’m beaming Jerry.” Kramer “So what d’you have to do? Pay to keep it clean?” – Jerry “They try to push you into using their cleaning crew, with all their so-called maintenance equipment.” – Kramer “That old scam.” – Jerry “Yeah, well that’s why I’m doing it all myself. This parenting isn’t about delegating responsibility, it’s about being there.” – Kramer “At the side of the road, with a pile of garbage.” – Jerry “Quality time.” – Kramer

– “No, stings the throat. Anyway, so I was coming along here, and I felt like a piece of cake, you know? But then I thought, it’s morning, I should really have a muffin. I like those chocolate chip ones. Then I figured, well, they’re really both cake. So I, uh, I sat on that bench for a little while, twenty minutes or an hour, and then I figured, check and see what you were up to. (a thought occurs to him) Wait a minute, wait a minute. The broad jump! The broad jump over the pothole on Eighty-sixth Street!” – George

– “Oh, so now you’re finding fault on a sub-atomic level.” – Elaine “Maybe if I could shrink myself down, like in Fantastic Voyage, and get inside a microscopic submarine, I could be sure. Although if there was something there, it might be pretty scary. Course, I would have that laser.” – Jerry “Jer, do you see where this is going?” – Elaine “Being really clean and happy?” – Jerry “Jerry, you have tendencies. They’re always annoying, but they were just tendencies. But now, if you can’t kiss this girl, I’m afraid we’re talking disorder.” – Elaine “Disorder?” – Jerry “And from disorder, you’re a quirk or two away from full-on dementia.” – Elaine “Hmm, that could hurt me.” – Jerry

– “Hey, you should see the Berkhardt, Jerry. My mile is spotless. I mean the big stuff was easy. Cinderblocks, air-conditioners, shopping carts, I just rolled ’em into the woods.” – Kramer “Yeah, that stuff’s all natural anyway.” – Jerry

– “Could be anything. The whole apartment’s a biohazard.” – Jerry

– “So, you got any black paint?” – Kramer “Yeah, in my toolshed, next to the riding mower.” – Jerry

– “Now, where’s that tool shed of yours?” – Kramer

– “Oh that’s nice, kind of a hard-labour fantasy camp.” – Jerry

– “I told you yesterday to haul that trash outta the basement.” – Mrs. Allister “Yeah, I am so sorry.” – Elaine “Some of the children have been playing near it and putting it in their mouths.” – Mrs. Allister “Well, a lot of it is vegetable…” – Elaine

Oddities & Fun Facts

– The Arthur Burghardt Expressway was named for the actor who had been called in to audition for the series several times without being cast.

– Jerry’s girlfriend (Jenna) is played by Kristin Davis of Sex and the City and Melrose Place.

– Jerry mentions that he was drinking a Cel Ray. Cel Ray is a celery flavored soft drink made by Dr. Brown’s that is popular in New York City and a few other areas.

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: I thought this was a very strong episode that falls short of the Hall of Fame due to some glaring easily closed potholes (most of which I laid out in the “What Didn’t Work” section). I thought individually all of the characters were great in their delivery and execution and there were some really great scenes in here. The Newman scene is a classic. I thought Jenna was a really good character too and I wish they kept her around for a mini arc before having Jerry nuke here. I also enjoyed how everything tied together and paid off with them all being involved in some sort of blue collar maintenance work and each fucking it all up. My grade will be high but just know it should have probably been a perfect score if they had been a little tighter across the board. Holy Cow! Final Grade: 8/10

Aaron: Solid fun episode with some memorable spots and tight writing. The superlatives are hard to keep repeating at this point. The show is great and this is a good episode. Final Grade: 7/10

Andrew: This was a fun episode. The storylines are solid and fit the characters: Elaine’s obsession, Kramer taking things too far, Jerry’s germophobia. But the overall episode feels mediocre to me; outside of Newman, and possibly Rizzuto, nothing here feels like a classic Seinfeld moment. Still, it was a pretty enjoyable effort. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: This moved right along for me. Elaine really carried this thing, and it feels like it’s been a while since she was the major focus of an episode. Kramer’s highway shenanigans are a nice side journey, and Jerry and Jenna was classic Jerome being a weirdo and kind of a douche. He doesn’t deserve Jenna, and none of us deserve Elaine. That Supreme Flounder must have been something really special for her to go to such lengths, just like the lengths I would go to in order to call her mine. That’s right Aaron George, I’m calling her! Hands off! Final Grade: 7/10

Jason: This was a ton of fun.  I wasn’t a big fan of the Elaine and flounder plot, but everything all came together at the end and made me appreciate it some more. Kristen Davis, nothing wrong with that!  The end sequence is one of my favorite episode endings from the series. The Phil Rizzuto key chain was a brilliant prop to use as to what George dropped in the pot hole.  This isn’t an elite episode, but certainly one that has a lot going on with a well told pay off. Final Grade: 8/10