Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Stock Tip” (S1, E5)

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: Kramer takes this one in a walk for me. George was solid, but even in very limited appearances, Kramer was great., We got his perverse joy in the stock tanking and Jerry losing money proving him right, him selling his new tie dispenser business idea and his spying on women with the binoculars from the apartment window. It is good to see him quickly progressing from brooding Kessler to energetic Kramer so early on.

Aaron: One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about this series so far is seeing the characters slowly morph into the versions we know and love. I think this is the first episode where we’re really starting to see some of the quirks that make Kramer well… Kramer. He’s starting to use the jumpy physical motions and his reaction to the buzzer when George shows up at Jerry’s is pretty priceless. I’d describe it as unsettled fear, which is a feeling I can’t see anyone on Earth but Kramer having. He’s still a little creepy and his joy at Jerry’s market failure is disturbingly entertaining, but it’s made up for by his roll out tie idea and pantomime. So because Kramer wanted to lend Jerry’s bed to good anarchists I’m going with the assman.

Andrew: I didn’t really love anyone in this episode. Jerry’s whining, George’s gloating, even Kramer’s perverse joy in the stock dropping – it all rubbed me the wrong way. (Of course, this brings to mind that wise saying, “If you think everyone you meet is an asshole, maybe you’re the asshole”). But I’ll go with George as the best; he really drives the plot, and has some solid moments: I particularly enjoyed him ordering the tuna despite Elaine’s concern for the dolphins.

Jordan: This one is tough-everybody had a couple decent moments, but nobody seemed to have an outstanding one. I think I’ll give it to Kramer just for getting more airtime this week and showing a bit more of quirkiness. The Kramer we know with wild business ideas and quirky personality is starting to come around, and Kessler is a forgotten memory now-he even leaves the building!

Best Storyline

Justin: The debate to sell the stock was the main story here and nothing else was really fleshed out enough to matter. There were some funny spots throughout and it was timely to the era, but this was my least favorite main story of the series so far. Jerry’s obsessing rang true but it was silly seeing him stupidly checking different newspapers and expecting different results. This is a story that would have been easier to pull off once CNBC or the internet were more in vogue.

Aaron:  By default I’m going to go with the stock tip itself. While not particularly engrossing it dominated the episode and really was the unifying force of the episode. Everyone got to make fun of Jerry losing money which is an amazing thing to do to your friend.

Andrew: I’ll also take the stock storyline by default. Everything else felt tacked-on, or not fully developed. That said, I didn’t really like this one; it was pretty bland, and you could easily imagine it forming the plot for some lesser sitcom. I know it’s still the first season, but I think it’s fair to hold Seinfeld to a higher standard than this.

Jordan: Wanted to give it to the trip with Vanessa just in case everyone else went with the stock-but everything about the trip is awful. The stock and Jerry’s obsession over it is really the whole episode and we aren’t yet to the point in the series where there are several stories happening and intertwining, so that’s about all I have to pick from. It was OK I guess, but not very compelling. The funny parts of the show didn’t really have to do with the actual storyline.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: How soon is too soon for a vacation in a new relationship? For Jerry and Vanessa it seemingly was much too soon…or perhaps it was just the wrong kind of vacation for them to give a go. Vanessa didn’t seem like the type to enjoy a Vermont B&B and it seemed more like a reason to show that Jerry was still mixed up with trying to impress a woman like Elaine as opposed to Vanessa. I was prepared to include George going to the hospital to confront Wilkinson about the stock, but that fell really flat, especially when it turned out that Wilkinson had only had a nose job and wasn’t sick or anything.

Aaron:  If you’re dating someone who forces you to choose between you and your cats what do you do? You choose the cats, that’s what you do. Cats are magical creatures with many potential uses: love, entertainment, nourishment, fitting in every conceivable container… What people don’t understand about cats, is that they’re basically our children. You wouldn’t ask someone to abandon their children would you? So why would you strip away the only thing that gives someone hope in a miserable life. Elaine can’t even keep her grapes together, she’s just not a fair trade. Go with the cats every time.

Andrew: If you and a friend go in on a stock tip together, what happens when one of you sells too early? Should George have offered to share some of his profits with Jerry? That’s probably going too far, but I think that the way he was openly gloating was a bit much. He was basically taunting the poor bastard. Some ribbing between friends is one thing, but certain subjects shouldn’t be joked about, and I think money might be one of those.

Jordan: It was a small moment in the episode, but do you have to adjust your desires to placate a friend because of THEIR causes even when it is not your own? Jerry feels quite strong that “the whole concept of lunch is based on tuna!” but Elaine clearly has issues with how dolphins are treated. Jerry doesn’t care, but changes his meal order anyway just to satisfy Elaine. George, unfazed, orders the tuna. Would you change your order if it bothered your friend like Jerry? Or simply ignore them like George?

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This relationship tanked hard after a good first go around a few episodes ago. Their interaction in the supermarket was good so I thought that chemistry and flirtation would still be strong but shit turned dark in Vermont, especially when she basically said Jerry booked a crappy hotel because he lost his money in the stock market. I liked Vanessa in her debut. I did not enjoy her here at all and am glad Jerry is moving on. Relationship Grade: 2/10

Aaron: I’ve got to say I’m very disappointed in Jerry and Vanessa. The great chemistry they showed in the Stake Out is completely non-existent here. Even when they’re at their happiest being yelled at by the convenience store owner they look like they’re on the bad end of a ten year breakup. By the time she starts acting awful to him on the vacation I’m already imagining they’re about three words away from a fistfight. Relationship Grade: 2/10

Andrew: Nothing enjoyable about this one. The interactions between Jerry and Vanessa were intentionally unpleasant at the hotel, but even their conversation at the market was missing the fun of her first appearance. Jerry has more chemistry with Elaine in this episode (which was probably also intentional). Relationship Grade: 1/10

Jordan: Oh Vanessa, you started off so strong. Matching wits with Jerry at the party and even here in this episode-then Vermont happened. Jerry is notorious for ending a relationship over the tiniest little thing, but anyone would have ended it with Vanessa. She’s flat out rude and unlikable. Relationship Grade: 1/10 

What Worked 

Justin: We get the real start of the traditional Seinfeld random conversation with the opening scene in the cafe when the group talks Superman, missing grapes and tuna sandwiches; Jerry & George easily had the best and most immediate chemistry here in season one and their argument at the dry cleaner was proof of that; despite his success, Cheap George rears his head at the end when takes a dollar back off his tip to the waitress after reviewing the bill.

Aaron: As mentioned earlier I really dug Kramer and I thought Jerry and George had some good moments together. I love how this is the first episode where every character is at least interested main plot. The whole bit where Jerry goes back to the dry cleaners just to get an admission of guilt has “Larry David real life experience” written all over it, and that’s never a bad thing. I actually like the little subtle jabs that Elaine and Jerry give each other when talking about their new love interests at the diner. I really had never noticed how much they seemed to antagonize each other about that kind of thing in the beginning. Great foreshadowing for a payoff we’d never get. (I think that’s a good thing by the way)

Andrew: I really didn’t like much about this episode. Kramer’s roll-out tie dispenser was great, and the diner conversations in general were solid. I definitely liked George acting like a big shot, then taking back some of his tip. But outside of small moments like that, most of the episode felt sub-par.

Jordan: Elaine discussing hiring a hitman to take out an animal is nice foreshadowing for something way down the road. Kramer’s downright GIDDY response to the stock going down in the newspaper is great. I liked George contemplating a hospital trip to visit a man he doesn’t really know to discuss stock tips, and I liked Jerry’s somewhat disgusted and amused response: “What if he’s in for an iron lung?” We’re getting more scenes at the diner with talk about nothing, which is a staple of Seinfeld.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Somebody needs to really talk to Elaine about her wardrobe because the hippie look was atrocious. Elaine is someone that should be viewed as more a classic beauty, not a hippie slob like she has been here so far. The show still hasn’t been able to seamlessly blend multiple story lines, meaning stories with potential they don’t all feel like they get the full attention. Part of that may be due to some scenes ambling on a bit too long, eating up time that could be used to flesh out the B stories; George winning and having success still feels wrong.

Aaron: Successful George is no fun for me. I’m fine with him having some highs as long as they’re followed by an immediate low. The dialogue is getting more natural and Jerry is getting better every episode but, “I have to say that the people talking behind us really ruined that movie” out of nowhere is maybe one of the worst delivered lines of blatant exposition I’ve ever seen. Jerry’s stand up jacket looks like is made of carpet, Elaine’s jacket in the diner looks like it’s made of Native Americans and Vanessa’s retreat sweater looks like clown formal wear.

Andrew: This episode feels very “thrown together” to me. Jerry’s relationship story doesn’t really fit with the main story, and it feels kind of rushed and underdeveloped. Elaine isn’t involved in either of those stories, so she gets this odd boyfriend/cat angle that doesn’t really add much to the episode (although the “cat hit man” stuff was pretty decent). I get the feeling they never got the script right on this one, and kept tacking on stuff that didn’t really contribute to the overall episode.

Jordan: I’m really not digging how every episode seems to have a moment designed just for Jerry’s stand up bits, and that’s what the entire dry cleaning scene seemed to be for. The “inner monologue” of Jerry needs to go too. I also feel like I’ll be saying this a lot throughout the series, but the wardrobe department needs to be fired completely. The biggest victim here are the ladies-if Elaine’s tasseled jacket doesn’t disgust you, Vanessa’s yellow blazer type thing in Vermont definitely will.

Key Character Debuts

None

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– First mention of Superman by Jerry

– Vanessa is first recurring love interest

– Jerry arguing with the dry cleaner about his shrunken shirt

– Elaine teases putting a hit on cats; not the last time she has this idea with an annoying animal

Oddities & Fun Facts

– George has $5,000 saved to invest in stocks

– Jerry maps out his road trip to Vermont with a map and highlighter

– George smoking a cigar inside the diner

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Season one wraps up with a whimper. This was my least favorite episode of the season as nothing besides Jerry & George seemed to really click. Kramer was great but wasn’t involved nearly enough to make much of a dent. Elaine felt lost in the shuffle and Vanessa was a dud in her second showing. The stock story could have really popped but things just meandered on too much. Other than that, there is not much at all to see here. Final Grade: 2/10

Aaron: This was pretty middle of the road for me, some good stuff, some ok stuff and nothing really bad. It was a fine end to season one and you can totally see the potential of the writing and the performers. I just really need them to get a new costumer. Seriously just straight up murder the other one. Final Grade: 4/10

Andrew: My least favorite episode so far. There’s nothing really terrible about it, it just feels kind of lazy and underwhelming. It could easily have been a middling episode from some lesser sitcom. Final Grade: 2/10

Jordan: The entire Vermont scene was really bad for me. Vanessa was awful, Jerry going inner monologue was bad and it also felt dated with the constant newspaper checking. The four stars were all fine-but the issue is the actual story left a lot to be desired. As I said earlier, the laughs seemed to come from stuff unrelated to the plot. Not the best finale, but things will be picking up soon enough. Final Grade: 3/10

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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.