Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Calzone” (S7, E20)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, JT Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan, Jordan Duncan and Jason Greenhouse 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

JT: I am going with a big old tie here between Jerry and Kramer. Kramer nailed it with all the physical comedy as well as the big blow up at Pisano’s. Plus his quick hitter on off lines were on point this episode. Jerry was also locked in with great lines left and right and his growing hubris thanks to Nikki had him flying high and then crashing hard. I thought it was some of his best actual character work in a while. Honorable mention to Big Stein, who did quite well in this rare extended showing.

Aaron: I wanted it to be Elaine. I always want it to be Elaine. I want to be Elaine. Unfortunately if you give him two physical comedy scenes and a moment of pure joy in the expectation of huckleberry pie, Kramer has to be your man going forward. If you don’t think the man’s a genius watch him scream in faux Italian before kicking the top of a counter with the tip of his toe.

Andrew: I liked Kramer the most. He’s got the usual wackiness (deciding to never put on room temperature clothing again, filling his cargo pants with change), and the way his face lights up when he says he’s making a huckleberry pie warms my heart. But he gets the nod here mainly for his argument with the Pisano’s counter guy. The fake Italian yelling is very funny, and the kicks to the counter are tremendous.

Jordan: Kramer wins it on the strength of his penny filled pockets. His weird obsession this time around is clothes straight out of the dryer-and quite frankly, I get it. That feels awesome. But of course Cosmo takes it one step farther than most, and decides that’s the only way he will wear clothes. This leads to him marching around with pockets stuffed with coins, cooking a shirt and getting into a quasi-Italian shouting match. Great stuff from the K man here.

Jason: Kramer does it again here! He gave one of his best performances in the series. From wearing his clothes straight out of the dryer to his off the wall physical comedy and bickering with the Pisano’s guy. An honorable mention goes to Nikki just because… well, just look at her.

Best Storyline

JT: I will go with the calzone, assuming it includes Kramer’s antics at Pisano’s. The scene where he yells at the guy at the counter is one of my all time favorites, as is the way he pronounces “Cal-i-Sone”.

Aaron: Todd GACK mindfucking Elaine while Jerry mindfucks her by simply pointing out the obvious mindfucking.

Andrew: As much as I admire Todd Gack’s ingenious dating loophole, I think The Calzone storyline is the best. Any storyline with a healthy dose of Steinbrenner is tough to beat, and topping that off with Newman’s “never that big on creeds” and the Pisano’s argument makes it a winner.

Jordan: Kramer’s dryer clothes is probably the storyline that brings the most laughs, but I will go with the Calzone here, because it gives us some lazy Newman scheming and plenty of Steinbrenner. An excellent story!

Jason: Lots to chose from here. Kramer’s straight out of the dryer sub-plot is an all timer. Todd F’N Gack’s dating loophole stuff was terrific, but I’ll go with the title plot. George, Big Stein and Newman all killed it here.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: If you were dating a certified smoke show like Nikki would you let her traverse over to the house of a known playboy that preys on tricking women into dates? Get your fucking head in the game, Jerome. Over $300? We established how much money you make already this season. Jesus, man. You deserved to get played by Gack.

Aaron: If you work somewhere where there’s a lost and found, how long before you can claim the items within as your own? When I worked at a gym my policy was a crisp 24 hours but I think it’s more than reasonable to suggest I’m on the conservative side here. I guess I stuck with the 24 hours rather than the accepted 180 minutes because of a personal policy I had with friends leaving toys at my house in my youth. 24 hours and that stuff was mine. That’s how I got a Sega Genesis. I wasn’t going to pay for Sonic. Not when he’s there. RIGHT THERE. All I have to do to get him is to duck a few phone calls and wait out while my friend pounds his fists red on my hardwood door.

Andrew: Is the point of tipping the gift itself, or the recognition you receive? The former is a better way to live your life, but I can understand George’s position; it sucks to feel judged for something you didn’t do. That said, he should know better than to go back into the tip jar; I’m not even comfortable doing that to break a bigger bill.

Jordan: What should we, as Americans (and one Canadian) do to help the people of Peru? For just $300, Jerry can buy a HOME? The epic collapse of the Peruvian housing market is the direct result of corporate greed and fatcats getting wealthy off the backbone of the day laborer. Supporting this dictatorship by buying knock off cigars is probably the reason poor Peruvian George is headed to work in the tobacco mines as we speak.

Jason: Should you be obligated to dish out a tip just because there’s a jar? This is a tough one. If it’s a small mom and pop place, there’s nothing wrong with shilling out a buck.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Jerry’s look of self disgust when he whores out Nikki to settle the sore with Gack tells you everything you need to know about how in over his head he is with her. Relationship Grade: She’s Outta Your League/10

Aaron: I’m usually very opposed to ANYONE going after Elaine but Todd Gack’s got game. I love deception. Love it. I certainly prefer it to Nikki’s obvious exploitation of everyone in sight. Relationship Grade: TEACH ME.

Andrew: Jerry had a good thing going with Nikki, but it was inevitable he’d end up flying too close to the sun there. Todd Gack’s loophole idea is brilliant, but takes it too far, too; own up to it early and it becomes a meet-cute story. Relationship Grade: Hey Elaine, you have to feel my pants/10

Jordan: Gack was stringing Elaine along pretty nicely, getting in her head and keeping her hooked…and then he brought his parents into it. Also, why does Elaine consider dinner with parents a date? That’s more of a big relationship moment. You were SO CLOSE to landing Benes, Gack! Elaine Gack will now never be. Relationship Grade: Settle for Nikki/10

Jason: Oh, Nikki. Jerome hit the jackpot with this beauty. She always gets what she wants and deserves it every damn time. Jerry better walk that dog of hers and pick up the shit with his teeth. Todd Gack is the man! Making bets he knows he can’t win with women is brilliant. Relationship Grade: Huckleberry Pie/10

What Worked:

JT: Big Stein taking a bite out of George’s calzone in the middle of a meeting; Todd Gack; Bold and Beautiful; Jerry’s dig at Gack: “Sammy Davis, Jr.”; Nikki, hache mache; George saying he doesn’t give bills to the blind; Kramer digging through his change on Jerry’s table; Jerry and Nikki getting out of the speeding ticket was amazing and his “Alright Nik, let’s hit it” was great; Kramer cooking his clothes in Jerry’s oven; Jerry’s line about being able to buy a house in Peru for $300; Kramer admiring Todd Gack’s name; Jerry never having had a job; Huckleberry pie; Newman sitting on the fork; Kramer lugging the change in his pocket and then mispronouncing calzone; “Lay three of ’em on me!”; Kramer and the Pisano’s paisan arguing is an all time classic scene; The guy in the background at the counter cracking up at Kramer yelling in Italian; Kramer clocking Gack with the sack of change was a nice payoff

Aaron: The calzone storyline was a lot of fun and I love to think of George Steinbrenner as some sort of hyper child, desperate for the next thought to take him on a wild adventure. Elaine smoking a cigar like she’s Wilson Fisk is glorious and it’s so appropriate that Newman’s negotiating skills break down immediately after you call his bluff. The writing was also tight here neatly wrapping a bow around the competing storylines. All the business with the dating loophole was masterfully done. I mean you don’t take a woman to “Blame It On The Rain” for its cinematic achievements.

Andrew: I like the ideas behind all the storylines. A daily lunch with Steinbrenner would be a huge career boost, having your girlfriend get you out of speeding tickets would be intoxicating, and warm clothes feel nice. I love how Newman’s commitment to the mailman profession ends at rain. The Pisano’s guy was really good, and the fight with Kramer was excellent. The cigar scene with Jerry and Elaine was a winner, too.

Jordan: George was really solid here. The best line of the episode was when Jerry was grilling him about giving to the blind and he responded that he doesn’t give them bills! George wolfing down a calzone while everyone else has small plates for lunch was a nice touch too. I liked that Newman refers to George as someone who hangs out on the “west side” of the building. Kramer’s change fiasco in the rain is great physical comedy. Elaine puffing away on the cigar like a champ while Jerome hacks like a chump is a nice comparison of the two. Everything came together really well this time.

Jason: George’s extended stall door pitch. Dustin Hoffman in Star Wars! Jerry’s gag about a short Jewish guy against Darth Vader. Nikki being bold and beautiful. Jerry mocking Todd with his Sammy Davis, Jr. line always makes me crack up. George rubbing elbows with Big Stein over lunch. Nikki as a beautiful Godzilla and George as thousands of fleeing Japanese. Kramer not having a table in his apartment. George getting caught reaching in the tip jar. Big Stein not feeling Chinese food because there’s too many containers. Jerry not giving a shit when he and Nikki get pulled over; “Alright Nik, lets hit it!” Kramer sitting in front of Jerry’s oven waiting for his shirt to heat up. Jerry’s line about buying a house in Peru for $300 was razor sharp. “Todd Gack, what is that, Dutch?” George having anxiety after getting booted from Pisano’s. George and Newman negotiating the calzone pick up. Newman not working in the rain. Kramer lugging down the street with the change in his pockets. Kramer’s clothes in the pizza oven, dumping change on the counter and having at it with the Pisano’s guy. What a great scene! Big Stein smelling Kramer’s clothes through the vents and raiding George’s office. Jerry and Elaine smoking the Peru cigars on the couch. Kramer dumping his change at Gack.

What Didn’t Work

JT: Todd Gak may be shrewd but he is a real grimy piece of shit

Aaron: I didn’t care for Jerry’s interaction with the cop. His acting is usually right on the edge of a knife in terms of believability and when he gets in full douchebag mode he slips right off. Also, Nikki was not even that hot. Not even the hottest Nikki I know!

Andrew: I’m disappointed in George’s scheming here; seems like he could use his Steinbrenner influence to get something better than a lost and found. Couldn’t Elaine have nipped the Todd/Nikki relationship in the bud by telling her about the loophole? Letting him get away with it seems very out of character for her.

Jordan: Honestly, not too much. I thought the natural storyline that they missed was having George try to use Nikki to talk to the calzone guy, but that would have actually worked out in his favor, so as I type this I realize why they didn’t do it. 

Jason: Why does Newman still have a record player in his apartment? It’s 1996! Surely he makes enough at the post office to upgrade to a CD player.

Key Character Debuts

– Todd Gack

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Eggplant. Yes. That’s a hell of a thing. Okay let’s get back to business. Okay here you go. Very good, very good. Excellent excellent calzone you got there Costanza. Okay a little jealous now. Okay let’s go. Ok last week… You know that eggplant was very good. Everybody out. I got eggplant on my mind. Costanza get me couple of those calzones right now. Pronto. Move out. Big Stein wants an eggplant calzone. Must have one. Everybody out. Out.” – Steinbrenner

– “Dustin Hoffman in Star Wars!?! Short Jewish guy against Darth Vader. I don’t think so.” – Jerry

– “I got a date with Nikki.” – Jerry Oh yeah she’s a beauty.” – Kramer “She’s also quite bold” – Jerry “Oh bold and beautiful” – Kramer

– “All right lost and found. But these got to be a time limit. We’re not running a pawn shop here.” – Big Stein

– “Oh of course. Todd Gack. You did you bet was in Star Wars? Sammy, Davis Jr.” – Jerry

– “Yeah. I am like a drug dealer. I got the guy hooked. I am having lunch at his desk everyday this week. He doesn’t make a move without me. It’s very exciting.” – George “With you two guys at the helm. The last piece of the puzzle is in place.” – Jerry

– “Beautiful women. You know they could get away with murder. You never she any of them lift anything over three pounds. They get whatever they want whenever they want it. You can’t stop them.” – George “She’s like a beautiful Godzilla.” – Jerry “Without thousands of fleeing Japanese.”  – George

– “Because if he doesn’t ask you out he doesn’t get rejected. He has found a dating loophole.” – Jerry

– “I thought tomorrow maybe we’d try a little corn beef.” – George “Corn beef. I don’t think so. It is a little fatty.” – Steinbrenner “How about Chinese?” – George “Uhhhhh. No. Too many containers. Big mess, big mess. Too sloppy .I want to stick with the calzones from Pisano’s. That’s the ticket.” – Steinbrenner “I just thought it would be nice. A little variety.” – George “No, no, no. George let me tell you something. When I find something I like I stick with it. From 1973 to 1982 I ate the exact same lunch everyday. Turkey chili in a bowl made out of bread. Bread bowl George. First you eat the chili then you eat the bowl. There’s nothing more satisfying than looking down after lunch and seeing nothing but a table.” – Steinbrenner

– “And it’s more convenient.” – Kramer “For both of us.” – Jerry “And I have a lot more control. I have one shirt going for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.” – Kramer “What’s wrong with your oven?” – Jerry “I am baking a pie!” – Kramer

– “Peru! I paid $300 bucks for these. I could have bought a house in Peru for $300 bucks!” – Jerry

– “That’s a nice name. Todd Gack. Is that Dutch?” – Kramer

– “Kramer’s cooking up some corduroy.” – Jerry

– “I called in sick. I don’t work in the rain.” – Newman “You don’t work in the rain? Your a mailman. ‘Neither rain nor sleet nor snow …’ It’s the first one!” – George “I was never that big on creeds.” – Newman

Oddities & Fun Facts

– It can not be confirmed if Gack is of Dutch original, but here is some detail on the ancestry of the name.

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: I love this episode, I always have and it totally holds up. Jerry killed it throughout and the interplay between him and Kramer was locked in. I also like when we mix up the interactions on the show and having George and Newman tied together was fresh, as was the heavy dose of Big Stein. It was an episode that felt very different in many ways and it worked well. Kramer yelling in Italian gibberish is an all time scene, especially when he slams his foot on the table. Plus… Nikki was smoking hot… and Todd Gack! Final Grade: 9/10

Aaron: I like the writing more than the laughs. That being said Elaine and Kramer were top notch here. It’s so crazy to me that George has been such an afterthought in this season for me. I used to swear by George and now a man paying out as he stumbles down the street easily swipes episodes from his grasp. Good solid episode made better by stellar structure. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: Another competent, satisfying episode, with some truly memorable moments, but doesn’t quite reach the heights of the series. A “B” grade seems about right. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: This was a great rebound from a couple of down episodes. Everyone has a distinct story, they all weave together and it pays off in the end. Jerry being so cocky about Nikki getting anything she wants was a fun bit for an episode, but I’m glad it ended where it did. Kramer steals this one by trying to pick up pennies in the rain, but Big Stein delivers one of the best recurring performances in a while. Final Grade: 9/10

Jason: This has always been a favorite of mine. It’s so much fun and flows along nicely. Todd, Nikki and Pisano’s guy were all fantastic. This is an underrated episode from the series.  It’s not in the top tier of all time greats, but it certainly does rank up there as one that you can thrown on and laugh for 23 minutes. Final Grade: 9/10