Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Shoes” (S4, E17)

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!


Best Character

Justin: Interesting episode here and while I enjoy George and Jerry’s scheming act quite a bit, I have to go with Elaine. I really enjoyed how frustrated and maniacal she got about the shoe gossip. And the dress. The dress was pretty great too. All of it.

Aaron: I love it when Elaine operates in extremes (for that matter I love it when everyone operates in extremes. I’m a huge fan of “More Than Words”) and her turn around from being outraged that Gail would dare to talk about her shoes into desperate woman, painfully clinging to the attention said shoes bring her is a masterful performance. Like a mighty rhinoceros she charges into that kitchen to get the justice she so rightly deserves. That alone would hand her the episode, but then we get awkward sexy Elaine. If it’s a crime to be incredibly attracted to someone who eats breadsticks in the least phalically seductive way in the history of mankind, then put me in sex jail. The playful way in which she drops a pile of bread down her shirt is as painful to watch as it is arousing. The choice to say “pounding and pounding” unsexy and “ketchup secret” sexy is the kind of ballsy choice that only an actor at the top of their game makes.

Andrew: Elaine is close, but I think the winner has to be George. Shattered confidence George always makes me laugh, and he’s got some of the best lines: “What am I, waiting to win an Oscar here? [Cleavage] is all I have in my life.” Most of all, I love that his default response to criticism is to go on the attack, which is very relatable for me, almost uncomfortably so. The way he turned on his therapist was especially good, partly because her criticism, “I didn’t buy that”, is the kind of vague and meaningless thing people say when they don’t know what they’re talking about. (Oh, you’d like to point out that I use “I didn’t buy that” all the time in my reviews? They’re still better than whatever crap you could come up with, you jerk). Anyway … George is great.

Jordan: Here I am watching the show, and George is just rolling as usual. Five minutes in, and I’m thinking, “George has this wrapped up.” Ten minutes in, and my mind has yet to change. Elaine is putting up a fight, but it’s futile. Halfway through the episode, I’m certain George wins this. And then…Elaine entered my field of vision. She wins guys. She wins.

Best Storyline

Justin: I’ll go with Kramer and his flip flopping of allegiance to Jerry. At first, he was a true warrior, a real friend, when he snubbed Gail. A day later and he got weak in the knees and planted one on Chef Hellcat and he caved. Watching him totally disregard how he snubbed her earlier, not even mentioning it, when he tells Jerry about the liplock. He was on point the rest of the episode too when helping to orchestrate the jig.

Aaron: Elaine and Gail’s high stakes game of “who’s going to end up with the shoes” should be studied by every military on Earth as one of the most pure cases of psychological warfare in existence.

Andrew: The cleavage storyline is certainly memorable, and was even more memorable when I first saw this episode in high school. But I enjoyed the shoes more this time around. Elaine being offended by Gail’s seemingly innocuous comment is a very relatable moment, and the ensuing feud over Gail telling people about the shoes is quite funny. And the capper with Elaine not wanting to give them up because “everybody talks about them!” is great.

Jordan: I really liked Elaine being so upset over the shoes and the guys’ confusion over it, specifically Jerry. Just added layers to them not knowing how to write for Elaine in the show, because they legitimately don’t understand her.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should Russell have pulled the plug on the pilot just because George took a look at his daughters breasts? Sigh. I guess she IS fifteen, so probably. But just when you want to applied him for being ethical and putting class and family over business, as soon as he gets a glance at Elaine’s boobs he caves and reverses course. What is your agenda, Russell?

Aaron: If you ask a question, you’d better damn sure be certain that you want to hear the answer. Jerry and especially George fall into the trap of asking people what they think of their script waaaaaaaay before they are ready to accept the slightest bit of criticism. If you ask someone if they like your art, and they respect you, they will tell you. The key is to only ask those select few whose opinion you value. Hopefully then you can be secure enough in your work to either accept the criticism or decline. That being said, Elaine and Dana could have had a little more tact. “It’s not funny” is much too much of a definitive to ever give someone as feedback. If you want people to actually value what you have to say you need to be constructive or helpful. Otherwise you’re just a dick who’s not confident enough in yourself.

Andrew: Should George have had his therapist read the script? I could see that being OK if they had become friendly, but that doesn’t seem to apply here, and it seems like George was just looking for more validation. And if this therapist was any good, shouldn’t she have known how George would react to her critique? Maybe he was better off not seeing her anymore.

Jordan: Russell’s daughter had some big boobs, and they were on full display as Jerry gave George the poke for the peek. Here’s the problem: Russell told them she was 15. You don’t poke or peek when you know the girl doesn’t even have a drivers license. You avert your eyes at all costs.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Kramer and Gail really had something special going on. You know, with the cooking and all. Jerry didn’t seem to care much, so they cleared that hurdle without much resistance. Now they can celebrate with bowls of pasta primavera and some sweet, hip Botticelli shoes. Relationship Grade: Erotic Cooking/10

Aaron: So I got a funny feeling when Jerry and George were in Russell’s apartment. It felt odd, familiar in a way it took me a while to place. Then it hit me. That apartment belongs to Frasier Crane. The decor, the lighting, the overall pretentiousness, it all fit. This leads me to believe that Russell is engaged in some sort of father/son fuckfest with Fraiser and Martin. Either that or I’ve totally lost my mind. Relationship Grade: What?

Andrew: Kramer certainly isn’t shy about going after Jerry’s former interests. But Gail seems much more into Kramer than she ever was with Jerry, so I can’t say I blame him. Relationship Grade: 5/10

Jordan: Kramer and Gail are like Sofia Vergara and Jon Favreau in that movie where one of them is a chef. At least, I’m assuming they are. I didn’t see that movie. Does Sofia Vergara avoid kissing people and love shoes? Anyone? Relationship Grade: Pasta Primavera/10

What Worked

Justin: I enjoyed getting back into the script writing stuff; George pissed off about his therapist not liking the script was believable and his reaction was great, including the freak out at the end; Kramer giving in to kissing Gail and turning on Jerry like a backstabber, but what can you do; Kramer also has turned into a gossip; Elaine confronting Gail was ballsy and fun, her sneezing on Russell’s pasta primavera was not; The whole scene in Russell’s apartment was great, between the script, the vomiting and the cleavage, it had it all; George’s face when staring at the cleavage was phenomenal; The scheme to get back at Russell had good intentions, especially George’s dig about Elaine’s cleavage; Elaine in the black dress, hache mache!

Aaron: I continue to really enjoy all the “writing” scenes. They truly capture the essence of the excitement of finding hilarity in the most mundane lines that you write. I felt Gail was strong and I like the recurring theme of busting Jerry’s balls about what’s wrong with his friends. Kramer is his usual excellent self especially when he finally gets that he understands women. The confidence and the plosive consonants that follow are fantastic. I probably should have mentioned it above, but I always enjoy when they need something crass to be said they always go to Elaine. “Cause she caught you j…” is a line that only makes sense coming from her mouth.

Andrew: I always enjoy the self-referential jokes about writing a sitcom. I was really entertained by George and Jerry being so confident while writing, but immediately doubting themselves whenever someone doesn’t love the script. Jerry saying a cleavage comedy is too “broad” for his pilot was a nice meta moment, and I have to think the stuff about not being able to write for women comes from someplace real. Kramer’s snub is really good, the fact that he ends up dating Gail is even better, and George’s line about his snubbing attempts is great (“You never see people so pleased”). Speaking of George, I thought having him waiting by the door to ambush Elaine about the therapist was a nice touch. I don’t always love the stand-up interstitials, but Jerry’s “sexual rulebook” made me laugh. There are a lot of great lines in this one, and Russell’s “get a good look Costanza?” is an all-timer, but my favorite this time around was George’s observation on divorce: “I’m the result of my parents having stayed together, so you never know.”

Jordan: Pointing out the favorite story again – I like that Jerry and George have absolutely no clue how to write for Elaine, and her actions in the episode only confuse them further. George getting furious at his therapist is great, and the fact that he even had her read it is kind of funny. Kramer is kind of sleazy here, but it’s enjoyable. The scene at Russell’s apartment was good, with Russell getting violently ill and Jerry and George just sit listening to it. The poke, peek and field of vision explanations are cool. Elaine’s look of victory when Russell finally looks is a nice touch.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Gail Cunningham sucks; How did Kramer know Gail’s shoe size? Seemed odd

Aaron: It’s starting to stretch the believability a bit that Jerry is continuing to write this pilot with George. He’s brought nothing but strife since to the project from day one. This episode should have been called “The Tits” or “The Mindfuck” but the unfortunate naming is merely a victim of the times.

Andrew: So they trick Russell into looking at Elaine’s cleavage, and all is forgiven? I didn’t buy that. (Shut up.)

Jordan: Gail does not seem like someone who would date Jerry once, let alone three times. Gail demanding the shoes is kind of dumb, but I get it.

Key Character Debuts

Gail Cunningham

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “You know what I did? I snubbed her.” – Kramer “What do you mean, you snubbed her?” – Jerry “I walked right by her – bffffft – never said a word.” – Kramer “Right by her?” – Jerry “Right by her!” – Kramer “What you do say about a guy like this, huh! You are some great friend, I tell ya, snubbed her! Not that I condone it. I’ve never condoned snubbing in my administration. Your loyalty is beyond question.” – Jerry “Yeah. Well, you know, she was lucky I was in a good mood – coulda been a lot worse.” – Kramer

– Elaine buys Botticelli’s shoes

– “Ooh, so…I understand you’re buying new shoes now at Botticelli’s.” – Kramer “What? Who told you that?” – Elaine “Gail Cunningham.” – Kramer “I don’t understand, why is this woman talking about my shoes? Why are my shoes a topic of conversation?” – Elaine “Well, you know, we were just talking, and she mentioned how you’re buying your shoes now at Botticelli’s.” – Kramer

– “My cousin worked for Bouchard’s. They used to use the bouilla-base for a toilet.” – George “What are you saying?” – Russell “Well, you didn’t hear it from me, but needless to say, if you go in there – stick with the consumee.” – George

– “Get a good look, Costanza?” – Russell

– “You’re supposed to just take a peek after a poke. You were like you just put a quarter into one of those big metal things on top of the Empire State Building.” – Jerry “It’s cleavage. I couldn’t look away. What am I, waiting to win an Oscar here? This is all I have in my life.” – George “Looking at cleavage is like looking at the sun, you don’t stare at it. It’s too risky. You get a sense of it and then you look away.” – Jerry “All right. So, he caught me in a cleavage peek, so big deal. Who wouldn’t look at his daughter’s cleavage? She’s got nice cleavage.” – George “That’s why I poked.” – Jerry “That’s why I peeked.” – George

– “Right in the kitchen. Disgraceful.” – Kramer

– “You don’t consider age in the face of cleavage. This occurs on a molecular level, you can’t control it! We’re like some kind of weird fish where the eyes operate independently of the head.” – Jerry

– “What do you mean, Gail? You don’t think I can attract attention? You don’t think I can put asses in the seats?” – Elaine

– “Elaine, this pilot…it doesn’t matter to me, it’s not me I’m concerned about…it’s my mother. I’ve been over to the hospital to see her…” – George “Oh yeah, because she caught you jer -” – Elaine “Nevermind!” – George

– “Pasta primavera! Back on the horse.” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Denise Richards portrayed Molly Dalrymple

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This is an episode that is hurt by the overall quality of the season and show. It was a really good sitcom episode, but it was a bit too sitcomy at times and just fell short of the standard the series had set in season four. There was some really funny parts and I enjoyed getting back to the pilot storyline, but I felt like things never quite kicked into that next gear. Lots of good cleavage though. Lots of it. Final Grade: 6/10

Aaron: Solid writing with fun performances, including a deep portrait of a young girl by Denise Richards. This one flew by and while not the greatest of episodes, it’s still light years ahead of most of the first three seasons. Final Grade: 7/10

Andrew: This was a really solid, entertaining episode, but it lacks a certain something. Maybe, to use Jerry’s words, it’s a little “too broad”; a cleavage storyline isn’t exactly groundbreaking material. And while there are plenty of memorable moments, the episode could have used a big laugh at the end to put it over the top. As it stands, it’s a really enjoyable watch, but a notch below the season’s best. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: This was OK. I enjoyed most of the scenes, but outside of Elaine showing off the girls, nothing is memorable. This seemed like more of a set up for where the season is going with the pilot and NBC, bringing Russell back into the equation. Even a show about nothing sometimes needs some time to set up stories sometimes, and that’s what this one felt like. Final Grade: 6/10