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!
JT: I am going with the Original Three in a giant tie here. Jerry was on point throughout, really selling his legend and making us understand why he wouldn’t run. George was aces in both his attempts to find love and his assistance in continuing to keep Jerry’s legend alive. And Kramer! The disgruntled, red department store Santa was great too. Tremendous output from all three here.
Aaron: Angry Chinese delivery guy is the only one who really got a pop out of me. He’s a screaming, yelling, unreasonable man. NO MORE DELIVERIES!!!!
Andrew: Jerry was my favorite. He’s the focal point of the episode, the grandstanding about the race is fun, and I really enjoy his Clark Kent/Superman impression. I think it’s the obvious joy he gets out of doing it that I like the most.
Jordan: It’s a close race this time around, but you know Jerry always wins when he is in a race! From being smitten not with Lois, but the idea he was dating someone named Lois, to his retelling of the race, along with the excellent, “I choose NOT to run!” line, he was superb the entire episode. Bonus points for being disgusted with George trying to hype himself up in the diner.
Jason: Tough chose here. Jerry was fabulous with his Superman references all throughout the episode, but I’m gonna go with George. Meeting women from The Daily Worker and heading to Cuba to scout ball players because Big Stein thinks he’s a communist. But, he sealed the deal for me with the scene at Monk’s when he sees Jerry and Duncan. IT STARTS WITH A…DUNCAN!
JT: I loved the Communist stuff but the Race destroys all. They built up a legendary flushed out story that you bought into hard within such a short time frame and it was amazing. The scene at Monk’s with George running into Duncan & Jerry was an all timer and the final race was Seinfeld at its best tying everything together in one big shot.
Aaron: The race story was very well integrated into every aspect of the show. While I personally don’t understand the obsession one might have about a race whose result is twenty years old, I can certainly see the fine craftsmanship it took to weave it into the story.
Andrew: The Race storyline is so good. The backstory build-up is so well done that it feels like there are real stakes to the climactic rematch, to the point that I actually feel emotionally invested when the Superman theme kicks in. It’s one of the more memorable plots, and surprisingly quotable too.
Jordan: It’s the race. It has a backstory, some fun twists with Duncan threatening to fire Lois, the George run in at the diner, and of course the big rematch where Jerry wins in the same fashion.
Jason: Elaine dating Ned the communist was really good, but there’s no way to top the race stuff. Jerry finding out that his girlfriends boss is he old high school rival was incredible.
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
JT: Can Duncan really fire Lois if Jerry refuses to run? Probably not without some other justifiable cause. Jerry should have advised Lois to get canned and then filed a lawsuit and put Duncan on the street. Finish him for good.
Aaron: If you’ve had sex with your boss and gotten a huge raise out of it, is it uncouth to act angry and report him for being a communist? Yes. It’s very uncouth. When last we saw her she seemed very happy with her lot in life but now she seems to have fallen into an Elsa-like frost from which there is surely no return. Time to give Ada the boot, Georgie boy.
Andrew: Should Jerry have just come clean about the head start? Probably. Maintaining a lie for twenty years can’t be good for your mental health. Although, after seeing Duncan’s behavior, I can’t blame Jerry for digging in. What good is your emotional well-being when weighed against a shallow victory for some jerk? My point here is Duncan sucks.
Jordan: I know he was lying, but if the homeroom teacher at George’s high school is really having sex with students, she is a sex predator. Chris Hansen needs to know about this.
Jason: What’s the damage that has to be done for someone to get blacklisted from a restaurant? Hop Sing’s is way out of line here. Must little people always play the elf during the holidays? You damn betcha!
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
JT: I like Ned. I don’t care what his beliefs are, he seems like a nice guy that sticks to his guns and helps spread the word wherever he can. We Want More Ned! Relationship Grade: Ability/Means
Aaron: Has anyone else ever gotten a homosexual vibe from Cobra Commander? If he were gay I could totally see him nailing Major Bludd up against a Hiss tank. Relationship Grade: 10/10
Andrew: I find Lois kind of unpleasant. She seems awfully quick to side with her boss against Jerry, which can’t be a good sign for their future. On the other hand, a great name counts for a lot. Ned, for example, is not a great name. Relationship Grade: Each according to his ability, to each according to his needs/10
Jordan: Jerry has found his Lois, and…she’s only alright. I feel like Jerry is really just in love with the IDEA of Lois, and not Lois herself. Eventually the novelty will wear off, and Jerry will realize he has been wasting his time on an unremarkable woman with a great name. Relationship Grade: Better than Lana/10
Jason: Jerry and Lois were made for each other. On the other hand, the second Elaine found out Ned was a communist, she should have sent him packing. Relationship Grade: Chicken Cashew/10
JT: Jerry dating a Lois is awesome; Duncan Meyer is also a great heel; The Ned is very well red line is one of my all time favorites; Also, Elaine dating a Communist is pretty funny, as is George hitting up the personal ads of the commie rag; The race story still kills it; Mr. Bevilacqua; The tart cider line made me chuckle; Elaine straight out asking Ned about being a Communist was perfect; Kramer and Mickey’s Christmas gig and the ensuing chaos as we get some good physical K-Man humor in addition to speaking gibberish; I love George toasting Elaine’s glass and spilling it everywhere; Mickey attacking Ned after he insults the store was tremendous and Ned pushing his commie propaganda within the mall Santa racket is so absurdly great; I love that Duncan can’t let go of the Race decades later; George’s acting at Monk’s and the jabs he and Jerry throw are tremendous and the whole thing is an all time classic scene; Ned’s ties to Hop Sing’s and the eventual payoff was really well done too; The Coleman’s manager telling Santa to “get your skinny ass outta here” in front of all the kids; Nice payoff to George being a commie; The Big Race is about as perfect a complete Seinfeld scene as you will find and I love how they dug up Mr. Bevilacqua to officiate; The final scene is funny too with the Cuban commandant mirroring Big Stein
Aaron: I like that Duncan and Jerry hate each other IMMEDIATELY. Kramer as Santa is good for a few chuckles and his insistence that there’s s reindeer named Donna is as endearing as his speaking the language of children. Dorchie, Dorchie do indeed. Elaine doing a tickle fest before blurting out “Are you a communist?” also got a bit of a rise out of me. Two moments stand out for me here as being quite tremendous: George pretending to “run into” Jerry and Duncan at the coffee shop is really fantastic. The fantasy that he and Jerry create in between their mounting hostilities is so engrossing that George nearly leaves before even discussing the race. Or course he’s an architect, of course he needs to cut down Jerry’s “did you ever notice” comedy. The closing Superman montage is also a thing of beauty. Perhaps I’m being moved by one of the greatest soundtracks in film history but even Jerry casually shoving a cheering Elaine to the ground feels heroic when done in slow motion.
Andrew: The communist B-story is really solid. It’s like a reverse of the race storyline, taking a serious issue like McCarthyism/blacklisting and turning it into a low-stakes battle over Chinese delivery. The battles between Mickey and Kramer over communism are great, especially when the kid starts delivering his hot political takes. George trying out The Daily Worker personal ads is solid, and I really like the Steinbrenner/Castro dictator parallels. But the race storyline is the best part here. George and Jerry battling over George’s made-up backstory in the diner is fantastic, Jerry’s speeches throughout are great, and the final scene is just about perfect.
Jordan: I feel like I could say everything here. I’ve covered the race mostly, but Elaine and Kramer had great stories happening too. Elaine sadly naming names on her commie boyfriend is a heck of a way to end a relationship. Kramer buying into Ned’s communism and selling kids on it as Santa Claus is brilliant. Duncan still being bitter 20 years later over a race is ridiculous, yet believable. George running into Jerry to support his story is classic George, especially since he uses it to tell people he had sex. The race is so fun, with Jerry inadvertantly cheating again and winning. Elaine running to Jerry only to be shoved away so he could hug Lois is great. I also liked George meeting Castro at the end.
Jason: Jerry dating a woman named Lois was brilliant as well as Duncan being Jerry’s Lex Luthor. Ned being very well READ and RED. Jerry’s tale about the race and how he got a head start. I CHOSE NOT TO RUN! George getting calls at work from woman in the personal ads of The Daily Worker. Ada ratting George out to Big Stein that he’s a communist and Stein sending George to Cuba to scout ball players. Kramer as a mall Santa and Mickey as the elf. The two of them walking down the street in costume talking about communist literature. George’s phone flip to Jerry. Elaine introducing Ned as her boyfriend the communist. The kid calling out Santa Kramer as a communist. HE’S SPREADING PROPAGANDA! The entire scene at Monk’s where George shows up and pretends the he hasn’t seen Jerry in years. Elaine getting Ned blacklisted at Hop Sing’s. SHE NAMED NAME! The payoff at the end at the race with Kramer’s car backfiring, Jerry getting a head start again and the Superman theme playing in the background.
What Didn’t Work
JT: The Hop Sing’s delivery man had quite the short fuse; Why would George give his work number out when shopping the commie personal ads?; What is Ada’s problem? George gave her a hot ride and a raise and she dimes him out to Steinbrenner? Get outta here!; Why doesn’t Ned just go pick up the food? Lazy Communist
Aaron: Why would Lois care so much about a race in high school that she wasn’t even a part of to begin with? Why would the manager of the department store take the kid’s word that Santa was a communist? Why are we still worried about communists?
Andrew: Kramer shouting gibberish at a child that doesn’t speak English wasn’t great. He clearly doesn’t mean it as mocking, but it’s not exactly charming, either.
Jordan: I guess I wish we would have seen the woman George was calling from the personal ads.
Jason: George’s flashy sweater at Elaine’s apartment was pretty bad. Duncan (Lois’ boss, not Jordan) is a complete dick. Get over it pal, you lost the race!
Key Character Debuts
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– “Would you be able to come all the way downtown again in rush hour to pick me up?”- Lois “Well, I’d have to be Superman to do that Lois.” – Jerry
– “You really like to say my name? Don’t you?” – Lois “Excuse me Lois. Stand back Lois. Jimmy’s in trouble Lois.” – Jerry
– “Your boyfriend reads the Daily Worker? What is he? A communist?” – George “He reads everything, you know, Ned’s very well read.” – Elaine “Maybe he’s just very well RED?” – George “Communist? Don’t you think he probably would have told me?” – Elaine “Well, does he wear bland, drab, olive colored clothing?” – George “Yes, yes he does dress a little drab.” – Elaine
– “I never did. In four years of high school I would never race anyone again. Not even to the end of the block to catch a bus. And so the legend grew. Everyone wanted me to race. They begged me. The track coach called my parents. Pleading. Telling them it was a sin to waste my god given talent. But I answered him in the same way I answered everyone. I chose not to run.” – Jerry
– “So you WERE the fastest kid in school.” – Lois “Faster than a speeding bullet Lois.” – Jerry
– “Wow, gee, man it must be a bummer for you guys what with the fall of the soviet empire and everything.” – Elaine “Yeah, well, we still got China, and Cuba…” – Ned “Yeah, but come on…” – Elaine “I know it’s not the same.” – Ned “Well, you had a good run, what was it 75, 80 years? Wreaking havoc, making everybody nervous.” – Elaine “Yeah, we had a good run.” – Ned
– “I couldn’t tell her the truth. I don’t know what’s going to happen between us. What if we have a bad breakup. She’ll go straight to Duncan. And I want him to go to his grave never being certain I got that head start.” – Jerry
– “The Daily Worker has personal ads?” – Jerry “And they say appearance is not important.” – George “Yours or hers?” – Jerry
– “On Prancer on Dasher, on Donna.” – Kramer “Not Donna, it’s Donner.” – Mickey “Donna!” – Kramer “Yeah, right!. On Prancer, on Dancer, on Donna, on Ethyl, on Harriet.” – Mickey
– “Hey, Mickey when do we get a break? My lap is killing me.” – Kramer “There is no break.” – Mickey “this is like a sweatshop.” – Kramer
– “Anyone who works here is a sap.” – Ned “Watch it!” – Mickey “Woah, woah, come on.” – Kramer Ned: You understand the Santas at Bloomfields are making double what you are?” – Ned “Double?” – Kramer “I bet the beard itches doesn’t it?” – Ned “You got that straight.” – Kramer “So when you get a rash all over your face in January do you think Coleman’s will be there with a medical plan?” – Ned “Look, you take that commie crap out into the street.” – Mickey “Kramer, I’ve got some literature in my car that will change your whole way of thinking.” – Ned “Talk to me baby.” – Kramer
– ” Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute, don’t tell me, don’t tell me. It starts with a…Duncan” – George
– “So what do you do, a lot of that “did you ever notice?” this kind of stuff.” – George “Yeah, yeah…” – Jerry “It strikes me a lot of guys are doing that kind of humor now.” – George “Yeah, yeah, Well, you really got bald there, didn’t you?” – Jerry
– “Well, one cannot help, but wonder what brings you into a crummy little coffee shop like this.” – Jerry “Well, I like to stay in touch with the people.” – George “Ah, you know you have a hole in your sneaker there. What is that canvas?” – Jerry “You know my driver’s waiting, I really should get running.” – Jerry
– “And he’s calling all these people from High School to come and watch. I knew this day would come. I can’t do it. I can’t go through with it. I’m calling it off. I can’t let the legend die. It’s like a kid finding out there’s no Santa Claus.” – Jerry
– “Each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” – Kramer “What does that mean?” – Mickey “Well, if you’ve got needs and abilities that’s a pretty good combination.” – Kramer
– “Fine, you want to be a Communist, be a Communist. Can’t you at least look like a successful Communist?” – Elaine
– “Ho ho ho ho A racing car set! Those are assembled in Tai Wan by kids like you. And these Coleman pigs, they sell it at triple the cost.” – Kramer “But I want a racing car set.” – Kid “You see kid, you’re being bamboozaled. These capitalist fat cats are inflating the profit margin and reducing your total number of toys.” – Kramer “Hey, this guy’s a COMMIE!” – Kid
– “Communism, You didn’t realize Communism was a sensitive issue? What do you think has been going on in the world for the past 60 years? Wake up and smell the coffee.” – Mickey
Oddities & Fun Facts
– Mickey has two kids in college
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
JT: I am shocked it took Jerry this long to work in a Superman theme but once he finally did, it really delivered. This is one of all time favorite episodes that clicks immediately and cruises through the end at warp speed. Every scene ties into the overall story and the writing was really clever throughout. The Communist stuff could have been throwaway or hokey but it was executed so absurdly with the mall Santas and the blacklisting that it popped well. The Race is amazing across the board, right down to the Superman theme over the final showdown and Jerry’s embrace of Lois and wink to close it out. Tremendous stuff and a Hall of Famer in my eyes. Final Grade: 10/10
Aaron: The scuttlebutt in one of our group discussions about this one was that it was an all time classic so going in my expectations were quite high. Unfortunately this one fell way short for me. It has two great, great moments but everything else was pretty mediocre in my eyes. Communist Ned didn’t work for me and the pettiness (That I usually love) over the result of a two decades old race felt very forced. It’s by no means a bad episode but next to what’s around it I just don’t see the love. Final Grade: 7/10
Andrew: This is a great episode. So many lines and scenes are burned into my memory, which says a lot for its staying power. It’s not as groundbreaking as some of the other classics, but sometimes making greatness out of simple idea is even more impressive. Final Grade: 9/10
Jordan: One of my all time favorite episodes. Jerry has the ability to bring an episode down, but every once in a while, he hits a home run that surpasses the other three. When that happens, it is always great. This is no exception. Great, great stuff. Final Grade: 10/10
Jason: Another nice tie in here with Christmas right around the corner. The episode as a whole has always been a favorite of mine and held up nicely watching again. Communism, Santa Kramer and Jerry dating a Lois. An excellent twenty three minutes of television here with great writing, the Superman stuff and everything blending together very well. Final Grade: 9/10