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!
Justin: Jerry is on a hot streak, his deadpan delivery in the face of absurdity has developed tremendously. His reaction to Rava’s story about her mother leaving her at age six with “My mom’s down in Florida” was great. His quick responses when placed in a tough spot are becoming awe-inspiring (A LUSS!). I was ready to hand him this award…until Hurricane George took over and dominated the back end of the episode, starting in the coffee shop and capped by his great phone call to his mom to tell her about the lost statue, and paid off by breaking it at the end. It was the definition of Costanza: terrible luck, screwed by the world, a glimmer of hope and crushed dreams at the end.
Aaron: Tight, tight race with this one and just when you think George has it wrapped up with his running commentary of the confrontation, here comes Kramer with his faux cop act which absolutely kills me and makes me consider a career in law enforcement. His writing is just weird enough to hit all my comedic tickle spots. Like why does he even want the statue and why is he so happy about getting new (old) clothes? I was already on board with the K-Man when he was pretty insistent that they “get” Ray but the combination or him dressing up in Jerry’s grandfather’s clothes to play a cop while having genuine concern he’s made a mistaken murder accusation with a “Your name is Ray?” makes me chalk another one up for our favorite neighbor.
Andrew: Tough call, as I thought everyone was good in this episode, but I enjoyed Kramer the most. His weird interest in Jerry’s grandfather’s stuff is fun, as is his inexplicably not wanting to give George the statue. He’s quite good in the Ink-a-Dink scene, and the way he chucks his exciting new haul across the hall was great. But my favorite was his instigating asides in the group conversations. “You wanna go get him?” progresses into “I’m not happy about this”, and he ultimately takes matters into his own hands. He’s a much more active character here and really raises the quality of the episode.
Jordan: For the first time, I’m giving it to somebody just for one spot in the episode: George snapping in the coffee shop on Ray, then cowering in fear when Ray gets fed up with his shouting embodies everything we love about him. Kramer was close with storming Ray’s apartment at the end and just being an oddball, and Jerry was solid, but George had a good episode with a GREAT scene, and that’s enough to put him over the top.
Justin: The hunt for the stolen statue is the main premise of this whole episode and it was a lot of fun throughout its many permeations. The excitement of George finding the statue kicked it off, followed by Ray Macbeth seemingly stealing it after earning glowing praise for his cleaning prowess got things rolling. After that, we got Jerry and Elaine’s hushed argument in the apartment and the ensuing grilling in the coffee shop followed by the elevator argument and Kramer’s apartment search. It was all paid off with the statue breaking in such an innocent and depressing way that rendered the whole thing moot. That is Seinfeld.
Aaron: The whole ordeal with the statue is pretty brilliant here. It’s completely tied in right from the get go and almost every letter of dialogue is in some way focused on our ceramic friend. From fight to redemption to theft to confrontation to losing a promotion to total crushing defeat the way the writers wove this story around such a simple prop is as seamless as it is impressive.
Andrew: The stolen statue is the clear winner. I especially like how ambiguous it is: no one has any theories as to Ray’s motive for stealing it, Ray never admits to the theft, and it’s entirely possible that it was all a misunderstanding. The fact that we never even find out if he did take it makes it even better. We also get to find out more about George’s childhood and relationship with his parents, George and Jerry show off their interrogation techniques, Elaine can’t concede an argument for the sake of her career, and Kramer goes rouge. Good stuff all around.
Jordan: The statue, of course. Not much else going on this time around, but in this episode that wasn’t a bad thing. Everyone was tied into the statue in one way or another: Kramer and George fought over it, Ray DEFINITELY stole it, Jerry and Elaine argued over it, then Elaine and Rava fought about it, and Kramer got it back. I liked George’s explanation of why he needed it, and picture a young Costanza belting out “MacArthur Park” with great passion. Also worth noting – it seemed like a pretty crappy statue, didn’t it?
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
Justin: If you are fairly certain somebody that you trusted stole property from you, how do you handle it? Jerry started with the cops before straight up just calling Ray out over the phone. I feel like his approach was fine, but he didn’t really prep a solid case. I feel he should have done more undercover work ahead of just going right in at Ray. Also, for Elaine, what do you do in this scenario? Jeopardize your career to potentially do the right thing? She was in a really tough spot and by the end, she couldn’t hold back any longer. The fact that Rava was a straight up jerk probably made her decision much easier by that point. If she legitimately liked her, she probably would have suppressed that urge a bit longer.
Aaron: Is it alright to smoke in a crowded elevator? I’m going to go a step further and possible alienate everyone by asking is it even alright to smoke around other human beings? I pose this question to you smokers: why should anyone else have to breathe in your smoke? In fact if someone blows smoke in my face I should be allowed to vomit all over them in front of their family. Point finale (that’s French) (and yes they smoke a lot) (and no I’m not this much of an asshole in real life).
Andrew: Could you let it go if you thought someone had stolen from you? Jerry has no proof the statue was stolen, and Ray won’t admit it, and he has no legal recourse, so the emotionally healthy thing to do is probably just to accept it and move on. But it’s never easy to live with the thought that someone got on over on you, and when you throw in George’s emotional attachment to the statue, I can totally understand their inability to let it go. Kramer’s solution probably wasn’t a great idea from a legal perspective, but you can’t argue with his results.
Jordan: Well the obvious answer here is how do you accuse someone of stealing when you REALLLLLLLY think they did it but can’t prove it? If I were Jerry, I’d have gone the passive aggressive route, and pointed out the statue while at Ray’s, asking about it’s history and watching Ray’s response to get a read on him. But another issue that came up: Rava smoking in the elevator with a No Smoking sign posted RIGHT THERE, and a guy told her to put out the cigarette more than once, while everyone else stayed silent. Do you speak up and tell the smoker to put it out? Or hold your breath and deal with it to not make any waves?
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
Justin: Ray & Rava seem to have quite the physical relationship despite them seeing like a very odd match on the surface. Rava discuses their animalistic banging and pretty much shoves it in Elaine’s face so she clearly is confident in how great things are in her love life. Ray doesn’t seem as in to things and it felt a bit like he was using her until striking it big as a theatre star. He would then dump her, leaving her to wallow in her shitty books and booze. At least in my fan-fiction, that is how it ends. Relationship Grade: 5/10
Aaron: Rava brings all the coldness of Finland down on poor Ray. He can smile and laugh happily all he likes but we all know it’s a mask for the constant abuse and suffering he withstands at the hands of the Finnish Ice Queen. And I’m not talking about some female Teemu Selanne here (where’d that come from). I’m talking about an Elsa that doesn’t sing and always has her gloves off (My son would love that one). I would however nail either one of them. Relationship Grade: 3/10
Andrew: I’ve known couples like Ray and Rava: artsy, pretentious, way too comfortable telling you how great their sex life is. I refuse to believe they’re as happy as they appear to be. Relationship Grade: 3/10
Jordan: Nothing from our main cast, but we did see a couple this time around in Ray and Rava. On the surface, they don’t seem right for each other, and we see glimpses that continue to point us in that direction, which of course teaches us a valuable lesson: ALWAYS JUDGE BOOKS BY THEIR COVER. Really though, Ray is eccentric with his theatrical attitude, and Rava is dark and depressing. I can’t picture that they stayed together, even if they DO make love like animals on the floor, which isn’t as animalistic as it sounds, because Ray probably has that floor SPOTLESS. Relationship Grade: 3/10
Justin: Kramer is at his mooch best earlier, rummaging through the ancient box and got me to chuckle when he wound up and threw his goods into his apartment from across the hall; Kramer is becoming one of the gang finally as well and doesn’t feel like much of an outcast; Ray is enchanting with his absurd Shakespearian delivery despite clearly hating his life; Elaine & Jerry frantically debating the stolen statue in Rava’s apartment, along with Jerry’s call to Kramer was great; The coffee shop scene with George ranting behind Jerry before exploding was really well done and an epic Costanza meltdown; This is the first time we get to see George’s whiny reaction to dealing with his parents; Kramer’s shakedown, paying off Jerry’s grandfather’s clothes and the entire statue storyline was top of the line, classic stuff; The final scene is vintage Kramer and George
Aaron: I thought the writing was as sharp and economical as we’ve seen in any episode so far. Everything was tied in. Everything. Even the grandfather’s clothes were used smartly. Kramer and George both had some great moments, including seeing George finally tell someone off (instead of only talking about it). Sure he wilts by the end but I didn’t mind seeing him grow a “blink and you’ll miss it” pair in this one. Jerry’s also strong when he gets mean; “Dinner’s for suckers” is just full of bile and inquisition. There’s also something to be said for capturing the perfect mood of the beginnings of a mob forming. The meeting in the apartment when the four leads try to decide what to do about the stolen statue is the kind of brainstorming session we’ve all had when we’re about to have a confrontation we may be too scared to undertake ( I feel weird about using that word outside the squared circle). I love that they make it ambiguous if Ray actually stole the statue or not. Fuck it, we all know he did and his comfort level with his crime is great.
Andrew: The pacing of the episode is really elegantly done, as the plot moves along quickly without a wasted scene. Using the closing elevator doors to fast forward through Elaine’s fight with Rava, for example, was a nice touch. That energetic pace makes you appreciate the smaller jokes more, like the callback with Kramer’s fedora, or George’s commentary to himself in the diner. All the main characters perform well in the episode, and have plenty of screen time together to show off their group chemistry. And as I said earlier, I really like the ambiguity: not only does the theft go unpunished, we don’t even know if or why Ray stole the statue. Nobody grows or learns a lesson, and I like that.
Jordan: I actually think the biggest laugh of the episode came from Kramer chucking his clothes into his apartment, such a random moment that doesn’t seem out of place for Kramer. Everyone’s chemistry is on point here, and not JUST with Jerry, but each other. We haven’t really seen it yet, but a Kramer and Elaine scene or Elaine and George scene would work just fine, as we’re really starting to believe that they are a gang that spends a lot of time with each other. I liked Jerry’s jubilation over how clean Ray got his apartment. George’s phone call to his mom was fantastic, and it just makes you want to see her as a character – and we will, and it will not disappoint us. I already touched on George’s tantrum and subsequent cowering, but Elaine’s argument with Rava in the elevator was pretty fun too. Rava and Ray were weird characters to me, but not to the point where it affected the episode. I liked Ray’s one little moment that showed it was all a facade.
What Didn’t Work
Justin: Rava is just depressing and annoying and watching Elaine trying to impress her was a bit cringeworthy and I was glad when Elaine finally snapped and stood up for herself; We never find out if Ray actually stole the statue, I would have liked some closure there; No other complaints, honestly, this was a really good episode
Aaron: Jerry would describe Ray as verbose. I would describe him as annoying as fighting a hive of bees. You can’t really punch them but they can sure as fuck sting the shit out of you with their overacting and strange metaphors. You get this strange actor vibe with Ray and I can’t help but feel that in a later episode this character would be written a lot more creepy and dark, which I’d revel in. Jerry’s comedy bit about the maid guilt may also be the single worst comedy segment in the history of the show. In MY fan fiction, Frank and Estelle scream at George over the potatoes and about eight more murders happen which Grandpa Kramer has to investigate.
Andrew: I honestly can’t come up with anything that didn’t work. That doesn’t mean this is a perfect episode, by any means. Everything was fun and executed well, but there weren’t any hugely funny scenes or lines to mark this one as a classic. There’s something to be said for consistency and overall quality, but there are better episodes to come.
Jordan: OK, I don’t know if it’s regional, or if I’m too young to know it, but outside of Seinfeld, I have NEVER heard of “Ink a Dink”. We always went with Eeny Meeny Miny Mo, or Bubble Gum in a Dish if we wanted to mix it up a bit. Is this something that is unique to the Seinfeld universe, or is it a real thing? Rava was pretty awful here too, and I wish we would have found out if Ray stole the statue or not, even though we KNOW he did.
Key Character Debuts
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– “My parents looked at me like I just smashed the Ten Commandments” – George
– Kramer and George continue the tradition of settling issues with chance games, this time Ink a Dink
– “Maybe he is dead…” – Rava “So what do you write, children’s books?” – Jerry
– Elaine has to correct Jerry about the existence of Rubber Man
– We first start to see OCD Clean Jerry
– “The Once & Future King of Comedy!” – Ray
– “I don’t eat dinner, dinner is for suckers.” – Jerry
– “Ray Thomas is my professional name” – Ray “You mean alias!” – George
– “I don’t see why this should affect the potatoes!” – George
Oddities & Fun Facts
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
Justin: We bounce back beautifully from a rare stinker. I am trying not to overrate this episode because I know what is to come, but I really didn’t have many complaints at all. Jerry is becoming Jerry and has developed quickly, showing more quick wit and less fretting when situations go sour. George was a force as always and Kramer is finally becoming one of the gang and not the quirky, oddball neighbor that shows up here and there. Elaine is still finding her backbone overall, but her finally standing up to Rava was nice to see. I liked Ray a lot and kind of wished he popped up again in the future. That is one thing I have noticed about these early episodes: not many recurring characters. Many outsiders are one and done at this point. I guess my only detraction here is that while I enjoyed the whole episode and can’t bitch about much, it didn’t wow me with laughs or provide iconic moments. I know, tough scale, but what can you do? This was like giving a 20% tip at a restaurant. Perfectly good service, no complaints…but it didn’t knock my socks off either. Final Grade: 6/10
Aaron: Pretty good little episode here. Nothing earth shattering but made me genuinely laugh out loud (I won’t shorten it!) a few times. It’s like the Luc Robitaille of the show so far, consistently good and brilliant for what it is, but put him on the Red Wings and it’s clear he’s no Steve Yzerman or Sergei Fedorov…or Princess Anna (I’m sorry, hockey season is about to start and I’ve seen Frozen about six hundred times this year. Do me a favor and let it go.) (Ha!) Final Grade: 5/10
Andrew: This is certainly an improvement over “The Stranded” (even the name of that episode bugs me). The script feels much more skillfully crafted than in previous episodes, especially with regard to the plot and pacing. And all the main characters have significant roles and show great chemistry together. That said, before this rewatch, I probably would have said “The Stranded” was better, simply because it had some memorable moments I’ve seen a million times. I guess it comes down to a matter of taste: would you rather be consistently good, or erratic with a few great moments? The former gets this episode a better grade, but the latter seems to be more beneficial in the long run. Final Grade: 5/10
Jordan: This was a good bounce back episode after the terrible Stranded episode. Genuine laughs from Kramer’s clothes tossing and George’s outburst at Monk’s, cast chemistry and heavy on dialogue is what Seinfeld is all about, and this episode has all of those things. I really like that Kramer seems to FINALLY be settling into a main role and not just a wacky ancillary character, and his involvement always helps an episode. While George on the phone was good, knowing how great the Costanzas are, I can’t help but wish we saw that scene with them, rather than just George’s side of things. Didn’t care for Rava at all, but I think that’s the reaction I was supposed to have. A perfectly good, not great episode. Final Grade: 5/10