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: George kicks off the season by racking up another Best Character award. He started strong with his planning on how to pack for the trip and never slowed down through the elongated episode. Him chatting up the celebrities and then having his moment demolished moments later was ultimate Costanza. The tuck/no tuck conversation is one of my favorites as well, especially since it dovetails with him defending Lupe to Jerry multiple times. Very strong performance across the board for Georgie Boy.
Aaron: It’s George. I feel the show makes a critical adjustment in season four and the results are seen right away. Much like how The Simpsons realized that Homer is the character they should be focusing the writing around, Seinfeld started to become a lot more George-centric in season four and it’s great right off the bat. There’s so much good here but George giving advice to Corbin Bernsen and George Wendt only to have them publicly shame him is probably the best part of the episodes for me. To think, he had already been shamed at the airport for having the gall to carry moisturizer for himself. We also learn that he dresses himself according to mood and that he aspires to be like Lenin. He also goes out of his way to patronize Lupe about tucking his sheets in. Perhaps had he been more “morning mist” and less conceited ass he would have had better results with these people. One more thing and then I promise I’ll stop rambling about George…there’s also the amazing fact there’s no self awareness of how utterly tactless he is. It’s like he’s gotten more confident without having any of the success that would breed confidence. The show is better for it.
Andrew: I’ll go with Kramer again. George and Jerry have some funny moments as well, but I’ll give Kramer the edge on variety. The audition stuff, pestering Fred Savage, crying in the interrogation room, even just combing his hair; he’s all-in on every scene, and makes it all work. And he’s a hell of a philosopher: “You know, I’ve always done what I do. I’m doing what I do, the way I’ve always done and the way I’ll always do it.”
Jordan: This was a battle for the ages between George and Kramer. George got out to an early lead with his angry reaction to Corbin Bernsen and George Wendt mocking him. I also liked him wearing a shower cap and towel in the hotel. But then Kramer shot right back into the lead and kept it. His audition scenes were good, but I feel like he clinched it when Fred Savage showed up. I also liked when he sneezed while shaving. Such great physical comedy.
Justin: I really liked the Tonight Show stuff, but the Smog Strangler story trumped it by the end, especially when you factor in the awesome interrogation. I liked the scenes in the police car as well as Jerry’s 911 call. All of the cops were really good too.
Aaron: I really enjoy the murder investigation. You can really tell that Larry David (who looks clueless as an extra) always wanted to write a 50s cop drama. The cops are ridiculously over the top and Kramer’s inability to withstand interrogation is fantastic. It’s also so nicely punctuated with Kramer, Jerry and George dancing because the Smog Strangler killed someone else so Kramer is set free.
Andrew: It has to be Kramer being wanted for murder. It’s not perfect, and there are parts of it I wish were better, but all my favorite scenes revolve around that storyline.
Jordan: The search for the Smog Strangler wins here, mostly for Jerry and George in the car ride. Jerry telling George that eating a cop’s Milano cookies is a 519 was awesome. Kramer being interrogated was a good scene too. I also liked when they all showed up at his door and Kramer just says hi to Jerry.
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
Justin: Should Jerry have gotten angrier with Lupe for destroying his performance on the Tonight Show? No, man the fuck up and rewrite your jokes. You are a professional comedian! Leave Lupe alone. Now, she did screw up the tucks, and for that she should be fired.
Aaron: If you’re feeding someone’s cat and it dies are you responsible? And does it matter if the cat is elderly or not? I think if you can’t remember how long you left it without feeding it, then yes, you’re probably responsible. George should also feel fortunate that they only wanted him to replace the cat. Just go down to the dump and get a junkyard cat, or head to your nearest alley, or farm…you get the point this world is infested with god damn cats. The other day a cat just ran up my stairs expecting, EXPECTING to come into my house. What the hell??? What’s with all the entitled cats running around? Now I have to feel bad because this cute orange cat is going to freeze to death outside? Is that MY fault? Perhaps we need more men like George Costanza, who demand to see autopsies before replacing cats. Maybe he’s the only one looking out for US any more.
Andrew: How much do you tip a chambermaid? I kind of wish they had given a definitive answer on this one, because I still don’t know.
Jordan: So, George clearly murdered that cat, but it poses a bigger issue. When a cat is elderly and near death, should it be fed? For that matter, why just cats? Should we be feeding the elderly, or should they be forced to survive on their own? There was an old lady in the Hunger Games and she did OK.
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
Justin: Kramer and California have fallen on hard times. It has stripped away all of his success and left him as a pathetic shell of his former self, trolling coffee shops and begging B-list celebrities to read his script. He still has luck with the ladies…but even that comes to a rough end for him. Eventually, they have an ugly breakup before he returns to the warm bosom of his former love, New York City. Relationship Grade: 1/10
Aaron: Elena clearly has had many suitors (including Mickey Rooney) but you could tell there was an insatiable lust for Kramer buried underneath makeup and the pain of a wasted life. There’s a hunger in her eyes that can only come from not having worked in sixty years. Elena’s woeful tale of the Three Stooges clearly initiated a mating ritual in webby nether regions, which Kramer probably invaded with a mercy fuck. That WAS an unusual choice for the Stooges. Relationship Grade: 1934/10
Andrew: Between the two episodes, there was only one potential sexual partner, and she got murdered. I’d say that’s a low point for this category. Relationship Grade: -1/10
Jordan: Elena and Kramer had some real sexual chemistry going on. Was it a Shemp? A Curly? NO, IT WAS LOVE. I would not be all that surprised if one of her many suitors was indeed our boy Cosmo. Having said that, it was purely physical as Kramer left California and returned to New York. Not even the allure of being Mickey Rooney’s eskimo brother could keep him there. Relationship Grade: 3/10
Justin: George immediately fretting over his travel plans was great as well as his absurd amount of luggage; It was a nice twist to show Kramer struggling, which he never really did in NY; The cops were way over the top but I enjoyed them; The security line scene was good observational stuff; The cameos were so dated but they were all really good in their roles; George’s sheets conversation and defense of Lupe always makes me smile; George’s pitches were great; The 911 debate and call was well done as were Jerry and George acting like excited kids in the police car; Jerry leaving the police car door open for the criminal to escape was funny; The interrogation of Kramer was one of the best scenes of the episode; The celebration dance at the end was a nice capper, as was Kramer’s delusion over all the bad stuff that has happened to him and George’s comforter issues; Kramer just showing back up was the perfect ending to this saga.
Aaron: I love when George asks a guy where they are and he curtly replies, “Earth.” Killed me. What an asshole. Kramer is also great here. I loved his physical work (as usual) in the auditions, the calm yet awkward table destruction in front of Fred Savage and the sneeze/shaving cream explosion. There’s this superb look of serenity on his face as he’s drinking whatever green drink that is in the infomercial that always cracks me up. With any other show you’d expect/want and explanation when Kramer returns at the end, but I feel it works best here without one. Kramer’s there because that’s where he belongs. It’s a good reset for the show, as they’re about to embark on their first season-long arc. I found it quite touching when Jerry gave Kramer back his keys (also the name of Kramer’s treatment) and it was nicely contrasted by Kramer nearly injuring Jerry and George with his. As a side note, I’ve worked with actors who “memorize colors not lines” so they do exist. They’re also infuriating and you want to kick them in the back as hard as you can.
Andrew: For the first time in a while, I laughed at one the interstitial stand-up bits; I guess I just enjoy the idea of a guy whose only job is drawing chalk outlines at crime scenes. I’ve always found airport security to be fairly ridiculous, so I enjoyed the jokes about that, especially George being questioned about the moisturizer. Clint Howard was good as the car thief/serial killer. My favorite stretch is George and Jerry trying to get to the police station. Jerry’s “Some guy just gave me a wise answer” line always gets me, as does the two of them goofing around in the back seat of the squad car, and I enjoyed the cops talking about all the stuff they could get away with. Having them brag about being able to shoot people, and acting disappointed that they hadn’t done so yet, seemed really dark, although maybe it wasn’t at the time (wasn’t this shortly after the Rodney King riots, though?). The happy dance that George, Jerry, and Kramer do at the news of a stranger’s murder, on the other hand, was pretty clearly intentionally dark, and I loved it.
Jordan: Jerry calling George Diana Ross right off the bat was a good start. I like George explaining that even though he dresses the same way all the time, he chooses his clothing based on his mood. That joke is made better considering Seinfeld’s wardrobe department is one of the biggest jokes of the whole show so far! George and Jerry’s police car ride was a lot of fun as they tried to make small talk with the cops. The 12 gauge is way better than the 11 gauge. Kramer’s wifebeater tan line was awesome too. The celebrities were all good: Bernsen and Wendt telling about meeting George was funny, and their whispering to each other about the guy they met. Fred Savage seemed frightened by Kramer which was probably the correct reaction. George asking the guy where they were and his response of, “Earth.” was terrific. The final scene with Kramer returning unannounced and Jerry tossing the keys was a rare feel good moment on the show – and then Kramer hurls his keys back at Jerry. Great ending.
What Didn’t Work
Justin: The timeline is a bit wonky with George acting like he hasn’t talked to Jerry since the Murphy Brown sighting but Jerry acting like Kramer left a while ago; Kramer’s actress neighbor always freaked me out; Kramer’s auditions should have been funnier than they were; Whiny Jerry blaming Lupe for bombing on Leno was weak; It was a bit jarring seeing the show be out on the road and away from NY.
Aaron: No Elaine. That’s always a problem. There’s a whole plot point with George and Jerry using payphones (what?) and being lost which would be completely foreign to someone living in a world of cell phones and GPS…GPSS…GPEsses… what’s the plural??? At the top of the second episode we get the usual “Last week on Seinfeld.” All I could think was “Was this REALLY their best take?” Come on Jerry you’re better than that.
Andrew: The police investigation angle just OK; there’s nothing particularly bad about it, but there’s nothing “Lt. Bookman”-level great either, which lowers the ceiling for the episodes. The “Previously On” segment at the beginning of Part 2 seemed a bit long; maybe it wasn’t unusual at the time, but it felt like way too much to me. I’ve always found Kramer’s freak-out during the jailhouse visit confusing. I guess the idea is that it’s finally dawned on him how much trouble he’s in, but I always start out thinking he’s joking around with Jerry and George. And I’ve never understood what Jerry says to George when he’s frustrated by the tucked-in sheets: “It’s so nice when it happens good”? “Happens to you”? Is he rubbing it in that he took the untucked bed? That bit never worked for me. Worst of all, having no Elaine sucks; I guess she was on maternity leave, so I can’t blame the writers, but it still hurts the episode quality.
Jordan: I feel like the whole Lupe story was kinda meh. If Jerry had perfect jokes, why are they in a crumpled ball? But the biggest miss is of course no Elaine. I understand trying to work her into California would be forced, but give her 1-2 scenes back in New York. She’s checking Jerry’s mail and Newman pops in to hit on her or something. Seems like they could have worked her in somehow.
Key Character Debuts
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– “I was engaged to Mickey Rooney! He left me at the altar. Kramer! Kramer!” – Helena
– “We’re going on a two day trip, what are you, Diana Ross?” – Jerry “I happen to dress based on mood.” – George “Oh. But you essentially wear the same thing all the time.” – Jerry “Seemingly. Seemingly. But within that basic framework there are many subtle variations, only discernable to an acute observer, that reflect the many moods, the many shades, the many sides of George Costanza.” – George “And what mood is this.” – Jerry “This is Morning Mist.” – George
– “Are you sure you don’t have any metal on you? Bracelets? Rings? Anklets?” – Guard “Anklets?” – Jerry “A lot of men wear anklets.” – Guard “Really?” – Jerry “Yeah.” – Guard
– Yeah, they’re trying to put together a miniseries for me on Eva Braun. I mean think about it, is that a great idea? We know nothing about Eva Braun, only that she was Hitler’s girlfriend.” – Chelsea “Um-hm.” – Kramer “What was it like having sex with Adolf Hitler? What do you wear in a bunker? What did her parents think of Hitler as a potential son-in-law? I mean it could just go on and on…” – Chelsea
– “Hey. Oh, did I frighten you? I’m not crazy. I mean, I may look weird, but I’m just like you, I’m just a regular guy just trying to make it in this business. You know I really like your work, the, uh…” – Kramer
– “Alright, so that’s one tuck and one no-tuck.” – George “Okay.” – Lupe “Yeah. One second sweetheart. Jerry, I really think it’d be easier if you didn’t tuck.” – George “Excuse me, fine, you don’t want me to tuck, put me down for a no-tuck.” – Jerry “Two no-tucks.” – George “Uh, hang on a second, You know what? Changed my mind, make it a tuck.” – Jerry “You just said you weren’t tucking. – George “I’m tucking!” – Jerry
– “Well, it’s the damnedest thing. The cat dies. So she comes back into town, she finds the cat lying on the carpet stiff as a board.” – George “So you killed the cat.” – Corbin “That’s what she says. I say, listen. It was an old cat. It died of natural causes. So get this, now she tells me that I gotta buy her a brand new cat. I say listen, honey. First of all, it was a pretty old cat. I’m not gonna buy you a brand new cat to replace an old dying cat. And second of all, I go out to the garbage, I find you a new cat in fifteen seconds. I say, you show me an autopsy report that says this cat died of starvation, I spring for a new cat. So she says something to me, like, uh, I dunno, get the hell out of here, and she breaks up with me. Now don’t you think that would be a great case on L.A. Law?” – George
– “Yeah, not fan talk, not gushing, you know? Actual conversation, I was incredibly articulate!” – George “You got toilet paper on your heel there.” – Jerry
– “How can you think of food at the time like this?” – Jerry “Time like what? I’m hungry. My stomach doesn’t know that Kramer’s wanted.” – George “I told you to have breakfast, you should’ve had breakfast!” – Jerry “I couldn’t have breakfast, it was lunchtime! The three hour time difference threw me. I wanted a tuna fish sandwich, they wouldn’t serve me tuna fish sandwich, because they were only serving breakfast.” – George “You should’ve had some eggs.” – Jerry “For lunch? Who eats eggs for lunch?” – George “Have you ever heard of egg salad?” – Jerry
– “He’s gonna send a black and white to pick us up.” – Jerry
– George asks how much you should tip a chambermaid which harkens back to the conversation on what to tip a wood guy
– “You know what I never understood? Why did they change the siren noise? When I was a kid it was always “waaaa, waaaa”, you know now it “woo-woo-woo-woo-woo”. Why did they do that, did they do some research? Did they find that woo-woo was more effective than waa?” – George
– “I’m not interested in your explanations, Kramer! Sure, I bet you’ve got a million of ’em. Maybe your mother didn’t love you enough, maybe the teacher didn’t call on you in school when you had your little hand raised, maybe the pervert in the park had a present in his pants, huh? Well, I’ve got another theory Kramer: you’re a weed.” – Lt. Martel
Oddities & Fun Facts
– Season Four starts where Season Three ended
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
Justin: There were parts of this episode that were a little jarring, mainly due to them being off set with a lot of non-Seinfeld type action, but the strong dialogue and back story were there to pick up the slack. I liked that they wrapped up the whole Kramer leaving saga right out of the gate so the season could move along quickly. The cliffhanger aspect worked fine too. Elaine not being on was glaring too and it definitely hurt the episode a bit. However, the gaggle of overacting cops made up for it for me. I can’t say we blew the doors off to open the new season, but this was a rock solid start and better than the episode that set it all up. Final Grade: 6/10
Aaron: It’s strange, if you laid out this plot for me I’d tell you I didn’t think it sounded to Seinfeldian, but in execution it worked for me. George and Kramer were both strong and I think the show is starting to lean on them more. There was a smart use of the celebrity guests and all the neurosis and social commentary that we’ve come to expect from the show. A good start to what I hope will be a wonderful season. Final Grade: 7/10
Andrew: These were two OK episodes. There wasn’t anything particularly bad or disappointing about them, and there were a lot of scenes and jokes I enjoyed, but I think overall this is pretty clearly a step below their best work. Final Grade: 5/10
Jordan: The California trip was an interesting little experiment. I’m glad the Kramer move to California got wrapped up quickly, but a little detour from New York MOSTLY worked. I feel like they could have done more with George being a cheapskate and taking all kinds of free stuff on the trip. I’ll also say it again – Elaine was notably absent. But, the celebrity cameos and the police car ride were really good. Not the best episode, but a solid premier. Good enough for me. Final Grade: 6/10