Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Robbery” (S1, E3)

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: I never expected to give Jerry this award twice this early but I again enjoyed him the most this time around. George was a close second, but Jerry delivered my favorite lines of the episodes, was starting to show a bit more laid back arrogance and didn’t whine at all. Elaine is getting there and Kramer is showing flashes, but Jerry has been the most consistent.

Aaron: I didn’t think I’d go this way this early but I’m gonna say Elaine. I really liked how she was trying to finagle her way into Jerry’s apartment, by assuring Jerry that they deliver wood, coal or anything else he could have brought up. We start to see some great hints of her comedic timing when she is freed from the closet or how she ends the “choose” with the measuring tape. Fun stuff here from Miss Dreyfuss.

Andrew: I think we’re back to George as the best character. He’s really bringing the physical comedy, whether it’s a short sarcastic genie nod, or psyching himself up during a game of choose. And he’s really good at conveying the subtler stuff, like slowly realizing he wants the apartment while he’s showing it to Jerry. Good stuff all around.

Jordan: I thought Jerry was really a jerk here. While checking out the new apartment he just seemed so uninterested, then when George mentions he likes the apartment, he acts indignant, so I can’t give it to him. Kramer was essentially MIA, so he’s out. That leaves us with Elaine and George – I thought both were fine, but I’m going to go with George here. Storming into the bathroom furious that he picked evens was classic George.

Best Storyline

Justin: George conniving to get in the apartment and the ensuing battle was the easy choice here. The robbery stuff was fine, but was just to set up the bigger story anyway. As soon as George teased his interest in the apartment, business really picked up, starting with the Rochambeau and cresting with the final scene where everything was rubbed in their faces. This was the first time that we see George’s jealousy and Jerry’s attitude clash and lead to some underlying friction.

Aaron: I like the storyline of Elaine trying to get away from her waitress/actress roommate. Everything she does throughout this episode is really just trying to not have to live with a singing and dancing annoyance.

Andrew: I like the struggle over who gets the apartment. George wants the apartment, but feels like he can’t say so since he’s already offered it to Jerry, but he can’t just let it go either, so he starts dropping progressively less subtle hints. And then neither he nor Jerry feel comfortable taking the apartment from the other, to the point that leaving it up to a coin flip sounds reasonable. This is quality social satire.

Jordan: Yeesh, slim pickings on this one. I didn’t really feel that either the robbery or the apartment was all that interesting. I have to go with the apartment hunt simply because it took up the bulk of the episode, but nothing here really struck me as interesting. Jerry was crazy for not taking that new apartment though.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: George getting into the running for the apartment after he had hard sold Jerry on it. As a professional real estate agent, it was a real dick move to get in Jerry’s head and make a play for the place after he Jerry had committed to signing for it. In the end, they both lost out and George lost a commission because he just couldn’t let go and move on. It was our first real glimpse of classic George and he failed as usual.

Aaron: If you’re house-sitting is it acceptable to have sex in their place, and if so is the tub the best available option for maximum concealment/ cleanup? I think if I had someone watching my place I’d be good with them doing it so long as nothing was going on in the kitchen. If they want to use the tub, fine, so long as my soap isn’t involved in any way. I think the real bad guy here is Jerry for only allowing for sex in the tub. I mean at the very least offer some sort of yoga mat or crib for them. A friend deserves that much.

Andrew: Can you take an apartment knowing your best friend wants it? What will bother you more, not getting a great apartment, or years of uncomfortable interactions with that friend if you do take it? I honestly don’t blame them for deciding it wasn’t worth the grief.

Jordan: Do you have to call interference beforehand or not? It seems like rules need to be established before such a big decision is made on a coin toss. To claim victory on such a disputable toss is icky.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Relationship Grade: No relationships involved in this episode. Relationship Grade: N/A

Aaron: The waitress and her fat/bald husband seemed to have a really good thing going. I’m guessing in between the running, losing weight and barbequing they probably have great sex in their tub. Relationship Grade:10/10

Andrew: The tension between George and Jerry is off the charts. In the words of a great American, when this all gets sorted out, I think they should get an apartment together. Relationship Grade:1/10

Jordan: Not much to speak of. George really seems to like Diane, who was wearing some sort of Olympic medal for no adequately explained reason. Relationship Grade: N/A

What Worked

Justin: Kramer is slowly starting to become Kramer. He is still underutilized but he is quickly moving away from the dark, isolated weirdo and morphing into the goofy, outgoing weirdo that was become an icon ; Angry, sarcastic Jerry shining through was a welcome sight, specifically when he was explaining that the lock best works when the door is closed. He is also starting to show that he is more laid back and has some arrogance; The scene with the cop was really funny and very true to life; George developing his jealous side and it costing him; The final party scene with the couple that took the apartment rubbing in George, Jerry and Elaine’s faces was great.

Aaron: Like I mentioned above I really dug Elaine here and Jerry’s rant about his lock only working when the door is closed was pretty good too. They guy who could have saved the episode for me was Kramer. All his stuff about the robbery and getting to the bottom of it with the English guy was pretty funny, but he just wasn’t around enough.

Andrew: I won’t belabor the point, but social satire is my favorite part of this show, and it really works in this episode. I also like that Jerry’s character is starting to develop, both in his idiosyncrasies (particularly his house-sitting instructions; “I cannot stress this enough: no soft cheeses”) and his relationship with George. The ending isn’t especially memorable, but it is a classic Seinfeld ending, as neither George nor Jerry can be mature about who gets the apartment, and both end up losing as a result.

Jordan: Honestly, not a ton. I did like Jerry cracking a joke at the cop, who totally no-sold it. Kramer is starting to get a little more time and personality. Elaine was good but not great here, constantly trying to convince Jerry he needed to move, just so she could have his apartment.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Too much of Jerry’s standup is still there and it kills the flow of the episode; Elaine’s clothing choices are horrible and not flattering at all; George being successful enough to take the apartment and be seen as Jerry’s equal is no fun for anybody.

Aaron: I thought Jerry was AWFUL in this episode. You know when people reference Jerry being a bad actor? They should present this one as evidence. It’s forced right from the start when he’s going on about being a master packer. He really feels like a comedian who’s completely out of his element (which in fairness he was). I also didn’t enjoy George as the scummy real estate salesman. None of his stuff clicked for me, and it felt like I was watching a giant dick instead of a loveable loser. If this guy killed Susan we’d want justice done. Also his white sweater was one hat away from being an ice cream salesman.

Andrew: There’s nothing I hate here, but the episode as a whole is just kind of bland. There’s not much in the way of classic lines or moments (although I am partial to “What do you tip a wood guy?”), and you can tell the writers are still figuring things out.

Jordan: “What’s the rent?” as the episode ends was dumb. It also seemed like a very “New York” type joke, which I’m sure plays there where everyone is in apartments, but not everywhere. A lot of Jerry’s dialogue still just seems like stand up jokes: “What do you tip a wood guy?” etc. Also, we’re only three episodes in and the clothing on this show is startling. I can’t remember if these people were considered fashionable in 1990, but if so, it’s a good thing fashion trends have changed. Everyone seems to dress 20 years older than their age.

Key Character Debuts

Monk’s Coffee Shop

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– First introduction of Jerry as an OCD neat freak

– Jerry’s financial success is established

– “I hate the idea of somebody out there returning my calls” – Jerry

– “What do you tip a wood guy?” – Jerry

– George & Jerry’s duel for the apartment

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry’s apartment has transformed into its more well known format

– Jerry has a Yankees jacket on his chair and a Mets hat on his desk

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This episode had arguably some of my favorite lines of the series to date but overall I think it was a step down from the episode that preceded it. It was great seeing the Core Four interact more and be directly involved in one storyline, but again it felt like there could be more there but they get things fully revved up. You can definitely start to see some of the beloved character traits seeping in and we are edging away from the rough early edges slowly but surely. This episode definitely had some good laughs and a focused story, but there was just a little something still missing. Final Grade: 3/10

Aaron: I really didn’t enjoy this one. Definitely the worst one so far. Jerry and George carry the bulk of the dialogue and it falls flat for me for the most part. If this had been my introduction to the show I doubt I would have kept watching. It should have been called The Apartment. And it should have been good. Final Grade: 1/10

Andrew: There are good and bad aspects to watching a middling episode from a classic show. If I didn’t love the series overall, I wouldn’t give this episode a second thought, and certainly wouldn’t be scrutinizing it for my favorite lines and moments. But because the series is so great, you also have to hold the individual episodes to a higher standard. I don’t hate this one, but it’s not really on par with the rest of the show. Final Grade: 3/10

Jordan: This one was a real stinker for me, honestly. I can’t put my finger on why, but it just seemed depressing. A robbery that leads to friends fighting over an apartment that neither of them get? Too many of Jerry’s lines just come off as stand up jokes. Final Grade: 2/10

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.