Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Red Dot” (S3, E11)

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!

seinfeld-the-red-dot_article_story_large

Best Character

Justin: This was a tough episode to choose because I didn’t feel like anybody really had a strong outing. Kramer was good but was barely on, Jerry didn’t have much conviction and seemed to take a step back and George was good with his deception, but didn’t quite stand out like normal. So, I give this one to Elaine, who worked hard throughout and did the heaviest lifting of all the main characters. I also liked her shaking down Jerry and duping George into telling the truth. If it weren’t for her I am not sure much would have worked here.

Aaron: Here’s an overview: we go from being desperate for a job, to lying, to being too cheap to ignore a damaged sweater, to lying, to admitting one has nothing (not even clothes), to banging a cleaning woman on a desk, to re-gifting said damaged sweater, to lying and we end up justifying and groveling to a man who couldn’t give a shit. When George reaches out in terror offering up the cashmere to the raging alcoholic he has the episode easily in hand.

Andrew: I’ll go with George this time around. Much like last week, despite knowing he’s about to make a bad decision, he is completely unable to stop himself. That stubborn, misguided belief that he can get away with it is tragic, relatable, and hilarious, all at once. I especially enjoy it when he switches tactics mid-lie, going from outraged denial to pathetic begging when Elaine confronts him about the red dot.

Jordan: George wins this one for me. I wouldn’t say this was a particularly strong performance from George, but nobody was outstanding here, and he was the key to the episode. He’s cheap when buying Elaine a gift, and his exchange with Mr. Lippman is easily the best part of the episode. I also like how easy it is for Elaine to pull one over on him when she tells him that Jerry told. Again, not a home run for Georgie boy, but a stand up double when everyone else was struggling to leg out a single.

Best Storyline

Justin: I will go with the sweater storyline as I did not enjoy Alcoholic Dick at all. The character was super annoying and I thought the whole story was really awkward and all four of the main characters seemed out of place talking about drinking. The sweater was the lynchpin here, being passed around from recipient to recipient, right down to a sauced Dick even noticing the blemish. I like that George immediately tried to buy off the cleaning lady with it after Elaine gave it back to him. George banging the cleaning lady on his desk and then basically admitting it to his boss comes in a close second.

Aaron: Everything to do with the dotted sweater is fantastic, and the rest of the plots are brilliantly woven through its flawed fabric. They wonderfully play the same moments (“Of course it’s cashmere.”) in multiple places to different and hilarious results. George can’t even seem to get a nice gesture right and the way the sweater topples his employment and assumingly gets him beat up is a fantastic little piece of writing by Larry David.

Andrew: George’s fling with the cleaning lady was my favorite storyline. George telling Jerry about the initial encounter is great, as is her story of a childhood encounter with a cashmere-clad American. Throw in George’s “was that wrong?” defense, and this storyline is a clear winner.

Jordan: I wish there was more to George and the cleaning lady, but I feel like there wasn’t enough to it to give it the nod. Instead, I’ll go with the cashmere sweater. I like that it makes it’s way from person to person, and it all started with George being cheap. He didn’t even want to get Elaine anything in the first place, then tries to pass off his buying something at a drastically reduced price as an act of great benevolence. And the fact that EVERYONE but George immediately spotted the dot is pretty funny too.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should you not have sex with a cleaning lady on your desk at your branch new job? Is that frowned upon? Sadly, yes. George should have held out on that fantasy until he could pull someone a bit…well, whatever. He apparently thought the tradeoff was worth it. Lipman needs to get cameras installed, ASAP. Take her home, next time Georgie Boy.

Aaron: Was the cleaning lady right to demand a sweater of the rich American who passed through her village all those years ago? Two sides to this one: If you’re rich enough to own a beautiful cashmere sweater why are you walking through a village taunting the villagers with it? Isn’t it enough that you live in a place where owning even the most basic of sweaters isn’t some maniacal pipe dream? Do you NEED to put them down? Do you NEED to flaunt your status? Do you NEED to walk around with hundred dollar bills stapled to the outside of your clothes? The other side: fuck her it’s your sweater. She should be happy you threw change at her and didn’t hunt her for sport.

Andrew: Should George have had sex with the cleaning woman? Of course he should have. It clearly violates the office’s code of conduct, and he had to know he might lose his job over it, but I can’t fault him. He’s not that far removed from questioning whether he would ever have sex again, and there will be other jobs. George has made a lot of questionable decisions over the course of this show, but this isn’t one of them.

Jordan: Obviously having sex with the cleaning lady on your desk is a no-no, but let’s go a bit farther. Should George be drinking on the job? The reason he wound up in that position was Hennigan’s. He probably didn’t even smell after he drank it, but maybe he shouldn’t have a bottle of scotch at his work station. Drinking that scotch is what led to the sex, which led to the cashmere bribery, which led to the firing. Wait until you’re clocked out to start pounding back the drinks, Costanza!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Dick liked Elaine. Dick liked to drink. Dick drank. Dick got drunk. Dick is a prick. See Elaine dump Dick. See Dick drag a Christmas tree. Dick was awful. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Aaron: Rarely are we enchanted with tales of true romance. I know if I have a daughter I hope she dreams of one day banging a bald drunk on his desk and afterwards cleaning his vomit/shame off the floor. George and the cleaning lady get to live that paradise. Warrant was right, heaven isn’t too far away Relationship Grade: 5/10

Andrew: There’s nothing like a sense of danger to spice up a relationship, but George and the cleaning woman probably didn’t have long-term potential. I have no idea what Elaine sees in Dick; even when he’s sober, he doesn’t have much appeal. Relationship Grade: 3/10

Jordan: Alright, I can’t think of a way to say this nicely – but I thought the cleaning woman was ugly. Not that George is going to be winning “Sexiest Man Alive” anytime soon, but we’ve seen the ladies he’s managed to date so far, and this is a real step down for him. Is the fantasy of a cleaning woman THAT big of a deal? Then when she talks it only makes it worse. I have no idea what George was doing here. Should have held out for a chamber maid. But, at least with the aid of Hennigan’s, he sealed the deal. Relationship Grade: 2/10

What Worked

Justin: The on/off the wagon argument was good fodder; Jerry accidentally feeding Dick liquor and driving him off the wagon is a classic Seinfeld stye life destruction; George and Jerry’s sweater dot debate at the store was relatable banter; Kramer’s mock Hennigan’s commercials were quite funny; Kramer being the one to notice the dot was perfect character work; Good work by Elaine to pick on Jerry for information as he is an awful secret keeper; George regifting the sweater was funny stuff; I liked using Jerry’s standup as a storyline, it made the usage of it in other episodes seem a bit more legitimate; George’s meeting with Lippman was hilarious as he tries a different route as opposed to lying; Jerry not taking Elaine’s bait was good too.

Aaron: Kramer going off and shilling Hennigan’s kills me every time I watch it. “It’ll be our little secret.” Obviously all the stuff with the sweater is insanely memorable. Elaine is strong and she really has perfected her shit eating grin. I’m glad we’re getting more scenes with George blatantly lying to people’s faces. Art Vandelay is always good for a laugh but his lies about having a fever and seeing red dots as well as his chastisement of Elaine for having the gall to question the purchase serve as the proverbial gallows from which he hangs himself; slowly losing breath and admitting he’s the pathetic man in a toque that he is. Jerry was pretty good in this one too, much less fake and committed to the scenes he was in. I always loved the way Dick came back into the office dragging Christmas with him. I’m also very pleased we finally have the correct Mr. Lipmann. The world feels right now.

Andrew: All the main characters put in strong performances; that’s pretty much the norm at this point, which is nice to see. The red dot story gets a lot of material out of a simple idea, and that’s when the show is at its best.

Jordan: I really liked drunk Dick heckling Jerry, it was a nice twist on the usual stand up buffers in the episode. Kramer was barely in this one, but his pitching of Hennigan’s was well done, and the fact that he (and Dick, and the cleaning lady) noticed the dot immediately was funny. Speaking of the sweater, I liked that it was passed around like a white elephant gift that nobody wanted. The best scene was George being fired by Mr. Lippman after trying to feign ignorance about the sex on desk policy. I also liked George’s initial meeting with Lippman, citing Mike Lupica when asked who he likes to read, then lying and saying he reads “Venetian Blinds” by Art Vandelay.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: George’s winter hat barely fits his head, so I don’t really see the point; Dick is completely unlikeable immediately upon showing up; Apparently Kramer and Jerry are lightweights based on their drinking in this episodes; Jerry is an awful liar; Drunk Dick just wasn’t an enjoyable storyline and it felt awkward watching this crew deal with something like that.

Aaron: Not too much to complain about here. I guess we could have used more Kramer… Jerry’s jacket at the diner was pretty awful and his insistence on tucking in these button up shirts into jeans should be stopped. Maybe a bit too many stand up bits here as well. While helpful for my understanding, the on the wagon/off the wagon stuff fell flat for me here too.

Andrew: I’ve always hated the ending of this episode. The on/off the wagon joke isn’t great to begin with, and gets worse when used as a closer. I also get the feeling the scene is tacked on to make sure we know Dick is OK, which goes against the spirit of the show. The Dick storyline is pretty underwhelming overall.

Jordan: The whole Dick thing is stupid, and Elaine even REMOTELY blaming Jerry for any of it is ridiculous. Jerry set a drink down, it wasn’t like he was helping the guy do a keg stand. I also thought the cleaning lady telling the story of the rich man in her village wearing cashmere was not funny at all, and seemed out of place. Not enough Kramer for me in this one.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

–  George mentions Art Vandelay as one of his favorite authors

– “You want me to take an overview? I see a very cheap man holding a sweater trying to get away with something, that’s my overview!” – Jerry

– “I got a bottle of scotch my uncle gave me. It’s Hennigans. It’s been here for two years. I’ve been using it as a paint thinner.” – Jerry

– “Say you got a big job interview, and you’re a little nervous. Well throw back a couple shots of Hennigans and you’ll be as loose as a goose and ready to roll in no time. And because it’s odorless, why, it will be our little secret. (singing) h-e-double n…” – Kramer

– “Yeah chambermaids, I’m attracted to them too.” – Jerry “Why is that?” – George “It’s a woman in your room. So go ahead.” – Jerry

– “So we started drinking, and I’ll tell you I don’t know if it was the alcohol or the ammonia, but the next think I knew she was mopping the floor with me.” – George “So how was it?” – Jerry “Well the sex was okay, but I threw up from the Hennigans.” – George “Good thing the cleaning lady was there.” – Jerry

– “Elaine, I’m, I’m shocked. I’m shocked. Here I go out in the spirit of the season (Elaine looking like she’s not buying a word of it) and spend all my savings to buy you the most beautiful Christmas sweater I have ever seen to show my appreciation to you at Christmas and this is the thanks that I get at Christmas.” – George “Well Jerry told me that you did.” – Elane “You told her? How could you tell her? I told you not to say anything.” – George “I didn’t tell her you stupid idiot. She tricked you.” – Jerry “Elaine you don’t understand. I had 103 temperature when I bought that sweater. I was so dizzy I was seeing red dots everywhere. I thought everything in the store had a red dot on it. I couldn’t distinguish one red dot from another. I couldn’t afford anything. I have nothing. I haven’t worked for a really long time. (Jerry is standing right behind George. Jerry takes out a hankerchief and starts fake-crying in it.) I mean look, I have no clothes, look at what I’m wearing. It’s just a little red dot.” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Mr. Lippman is now portrayed by Richard Fancy, who will retain the role through the duration of the series

– Jerry uses Hennigan’s scotch as paint thinner

– George is attracted to cleaning women

– Jerry discusses a bathroom hand dryer as if it is a rarity

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: I just couldn’t get into this one. It had a couple of classic moments, including the whole sweater fiasco, but it just never seemed to get into gear. It really slows down what has been an awesome series. I thought the alcoholic think just didn’t work at all because all four of the main actors seemed to have no idea to convey the emotions or actions needed to work a story like this. Between Kramer getting drunk and passing out after one glass, Jerry’s weird robotic pour and shotgun gulp and George throwing up after a drink, it just all felt like over the top expositional goofiness, something that doesn’t suit this show well. Toss in Dick, and I just didn’t find as many laughs as I usually do. While it had a few spots here and there, this may be my least favorite episode of the season. Final Grade: 4/10

Aaron: I feel I always come back to the writing but when it’s tight is when I love the show best. Fine skills on display here. We get an awesome main story, with Kramer killing it with his “cameo” and even Jerry’s acting is up to par with the others. Easy high marks here. Final Grade: 7/10        

Andrew: They really need to work on their endings. This is a solid entry to add to an encouraging streak of enjoyable episodes, but it also continues a disappointing pattern of underwhelming endings. There are plenty of good moments in this one, I just wish it worked better as a whole. Final Grade: 5/10

Jordan: If this were a season 2 episode, I’d be much more happy with it. But after the last few we have watched, I feel like this was a let down. I think what really hurts this one is they focused too much on the wrong stories – they probably could have gotten more mileage out of George trying to duck the cleaning lady who wants to be in a committed relationship than Dick becoming an alcoholic again. George did his best to carry things, but there’s just not enough here. Maybe it’s because Kramer was missing (I’ll assume he was auditioning for Hennigan’s commercials) or because Elaine was saddled with the dud storyline of being upset at Jerry for putting a glass down, but this one really lacked that oomph that great episodes have. If we ignore the Dick thing completely and give us a scene with George seeing the cleaning lady at the diner and hiding, or Kramer in his apartment filming Hennigan’s commercials as Professor Van Nostrand, I think we may have been onto something. Instead, we got a ho-hum episode. Final Grade: 4/10

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.