Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Couch” (S6, E5)

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: George takes this one for me. Jerry had a strong showing but George is at his best here, a whirlwind of lies as he takes any step possible to not read a book. The scenes at the Temple apartment are some of my favorites of all times, especially his closing, exasperated “Joe…” The pink eye lie was tremendous as was the last scene where he didn’t realize Fred was gay.

Aaron: It was going to be sweet unreasonable Poppy but I’ve got to go with George. Just read the damn book.

Andrew: I feel like I could make a case for anyone, but Jerry was my favorite. His throwaway response to “What kind of a person are you?”, “I don’t know”, always gets me. And his frozen-in-horror take when he first sees the puddle on his couch is perfect. But most of all, I love the way he keeps screwing with Elaine and her moral stances. I, too, have taken perverse pleasure in taking an offhanded comment to an argumentative extreme, so I really enjoy the delight in his eyes when he says the scene at Poppie’s “was pretty much all my fault.”

Jordan: Georgie boy runs away with this one. It takes a real slimeball to concoct a plan to lie about reading a book and go to the lengths that he did. If someone came to my home insisting on watching a movie with me, I would welcome them in, offer them the finest seat, then excuse myself to a room where I would promptly call 911 and weep until they arrived.

Jason: I was ready to chalk up Jerry for the win here until George showed up at the Temples’ apartment. This crazy schmuck was at his best! Using pink eye as the excuse why he couldn’t read the book, asking for something to nosh on, being frustrated by Joe’s wife interrupting the movie and arguing with Remy over seating arrangements. All topped of by him spilling grape juice their couch.

Best Storyline

JT: I am going to cop out and call this one a tie between George’s book club homework and the all time epic Poppie peeing on Jerry’s couch. I have no idea how someone even comes up with that scenario but only Seinfeld could make it work so believably on multiple levels without it being over the top and campy. Plus they leave it in such a way that you don’t know for sure if Poppie did it out of revenge or if he is just a crazy old man that pees wherever the hell he pleases.

Aaron: George going to the Temples’ house, sitting on their couch and weaseling his way out of reading a literary classic. He’s in their house and yet his demands popcorn, juice and a teenage girl to get the hell out of his seat. Even with his impassioned plea to Joe he still didn’t manage to get to the George Peppard homosexual scenes.

Andrew: I think it’s the couch. It’s not the most elaborate story: guy buys couch, other guy pees on it, first guy has to get rid of it, and that’s pretty much it. But it scores incredibly well on the memorability scale. The relief on Poppie’s face when he sits down is incredible.

Jordan: I know that Poppie and the couch is more memorable, but George’s quest to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s is just great. The lengths he goes to in order to NOT read a book is legendary and resonates deep within my soul. Mr. Temple clearly hates him, it’s so fun to watch.

Jason: The abortion debate was something that was very rare for TV during this time and was well done, but I gotta go with Poppie pissing on Jerry’s couch. Jerry and the K-Man staring at the pee stain and Jerry’s disbelief about it was tremendous. IS IT?… COULD IT?… COULD HE HAVE?… IT IS!!! POPPIE PEED ON MY SOFA! is one of my favorite Jerry moments in the entire series.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: I feel like since Poppie didn’t promote his beliefs on abortion that the fallout shouldn’t have been so severe. Would you leave a restaurant if the owner admitting a stance on a certain topic after he was proactively asked? I guess he was a dick about it. But that Newfoundland duck!

Aaron: How many times can you flip over a couch cushion before you take the poor thing out back and burn it like the asshole that it is? Guys let’s face reality here; underneath all the stitching and artistry it’s just foam under there. Once the urine, blood or bats get in there it’s just no use any more. Take the couch out back light it ablaze and watch. Stare right into it and enjoy every second of that sweet, sweet fire. If tears of joy fill your eyes, don’t stop with the couch.

Andrew: If you own a couch that you know has been peed on, do you have to warn your guests about it? My theory on germs is that any number of people and objects I encounter in a given day could be indescribably filthy, so it’s best not to think about it, beyond taking basic hygiene precautions. So I’ll go with a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on your pee couch.

Jordan: Are you required to save your seat when you are just refilling your juice? George was pretty rotten throughout the entire episode, but here is an instance where I am firmly on Team Costanza. Remy sliding over to steal his seat was total bush league! She knew he was sitting there!

Jason: There’s a lot to work with here. Should you not date someone or eat somewhere because of their stand on abortion? When is a pizza a pizza? I’m with Poppie here. The moment you put your fists in the dough it’s a pizza. If you don’t offer someone a drink after they hauled your new couch in, does that make you a shitty person? Yes it does. Bad move by Jerome here.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: I would have like to have seen more of Marie. Her teaching George to read would have been a nice story arc. Carl should have lied to ensure he got some from Elaine. I can’t imagine he was that passionate on the subject. Relationship Grade: George Peppard/10

Aaron:Spaceman came down to answer some things, the world gathered round from paupers to kings. I’ll answer your questions, I’ll answer them true, I’ll show you the way you know what to do. Who is wrong and who is right? Yellow, brown, black or white? Spaceman , he answered, “You’re no longer mind, I’ve opened your mind, you’re now color blind. Racial.” Relationship Grade: Season 1 Episode 4/10

Andrew: I was really enjoying Elaine’s romance with the moving guy, it’s a shame they weren’t compatible on the issue of abortion. Let that be a lesson to us all: do not have morals. Relationship Grade: And no intelligent person can think differently/10

Jordan: On the surface, the Temples seem like an average family. But something sinister lies deep beneath. Look at the clues. He lets strangers into his home to watch movies. They don’t keep popcorn in the house. Their daughter has no shame in stealing seats. Something is rotten here. ROTTEN TO THE CORE. Relationship Grade: MR. TEMPLE PROBABLY KILLS AND EATS THE HOMELESS/10

Jason: Elaine and Carl are a good looking couple, but of course that comes to a screeching halt with his anti-abortion stand. George and Marie didn’t stand a chance. The second he joined the book club, they were doomed. Relationship Grade: Grape Juice/10

What Worked:

JT: George and Jerry discussing Truman Capote was good; I enjoy Kramer’s excitement over the new couch; I also really enjoy the K-Man’s make your own pizza idea; Kramer’s dig about Jerry not offering the drink was good as was George’s immediate procrastination over reading Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Poppie’s story abou this mother was delivered perfectly; Jerry is at his asshole best with the abortion stuff, especially with the delight he takes in causing all the trouble; Jerry pressing George to admit not reading the book; Kramer’s verbal beating on Jerry and Elain at Monk’s was great; Elaine is at her flirty best with Carl; Poppie being angry that Jerry & Elaine aren’t aware of his gastro disorder is amazing; Newfoundland has top notch ducks; Jerry just torturing Elaine by asking about Carl’s stand on abortion was treacherous and I loved Elaine veering off her lipstick in confusion; George showing up at Joe Temple’s house to watch the movie is one of my favorite storylines of all time; So is Poppie peeing on the couch, including his sigh of relief when he sits down and Jerry and Kramer’s reaction to the stain, especially the water spill; “She was a delicate flower”; Remy is a tremendous asshole and George’s pink eye excuse was brilliant; The revelation of Carl’s pro life stance was excellently executed; Kramer making the pizza and pissing off Poppie was a strong payoff; Also, the clear riff on arguing when a pizza become a pizza as an allegory to abortion was definitely way over my head as a teenager; George is at his douchebag best when he gets mouthy with Joe and his wife while they talk about their ill friend during the movie; George’s “Joe…” after he spills the juice on the couch is one of my favorite lines in series history; Nice payoffs with the grape juice breaking on the old couch and George in the book club meeting

Aaron: This one’s all about the writing. It’s simply brilliant how they manage to weave the abortion debate into a story about two guys opening a pizza restaurant. The analogy of if a pizza becomes a pizza the minute your fists hit the dough or only once it comes out of the oven is inspired. Poppy is a great raving lunatic of an old man, Kramer is his usual strong self and George and his quest to not read one page of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is wonderful and iconic. Elaine’s intonation as she names Poppie is Benes on a platter.

Andrew: All the storylines are great. The callback to Kramer’s “make your own pizza” idea is fun, and I enjoy the way his argument with Poppie about pizza becomes a metaphor for the abortion debate. Elaine flirting with the mover is great, and the fights over abortion are more entertaining than you’d think possible, considering the subject. The couch stuff still makes me laugh, and George’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s saga is an all-timer.

Jordan: A whole lot, honestly. I’ve spent all my time so far singing the praises of George, but the Poppie story is a lot of fun too. It’s pretty clear he pissed all over the couch, but why? I get wanting to settle the score, but you are now marching around in urine soaked pants. The abortion topic being debated in the form of pizza creation is great stuff. Kramer tossing the pizza with glee was fun to watch. Elaine is gorgeous when her hair isn’t curly.

Jason: Jerry getting a couch that doesn’t fold out to avoid people from sleeping over. Kramer feeling like he’s getting a new couch. Kramer’s tumble into the new couch as the movers are bringing it in. George’s struggle to concentrate on reading something that doesn’t have to do with sports. Jerry’s hesitation to shake Poppie’s hand was a great throwback to, “The Pie”; DID I EVER TELL YOU ABOUT MY MOTHER? Elaine and Poppie’s abortion bickering. Kramer blaming Jerry and Elaine for Poppie ending up in the hospital. A bottle of wine and five-alarm chili as Poppie’s get well gift was brilliant. Jerry bursting Elaine’s bubble about being in love with Carl; What is his stand on abortion; Could be trouble. George grabbing the Temples’ address from the movie store computer system. George describing Audrey Hepburn as a delicate flower. Kramer rocking the chef hat and apron while making pizza. As noted earlier, George killed it at the Temples’. Asking for food, wanting the lights off, getting frustrated with Mrs. Temple, bitching about his spot on the couch. George wanting Jerry’s couch after Poppie pees on it; he’ll just flip the cushions. An excellent payoff at the end with Elaine offering Carl a drink, throwing a bottle of grape juice for him to catch, missing it and spilling on the couch.

What Didn’t Work

JT: Jerry’s new couch really isn’t anything special; It is weird how Jerry acts like he wasn’t there when Poppie got busted by the Board of Health; I was a little surprised that the moving guys would willingly schlep the couch to Elaine’s; These days George would have many more options to track down and watch his movie;

Aaron: The repartee with Elaine and the mover was absolutely painful to sit through. Poppy bragging about his money was strange and almost as off putting as him wetting the couch.

Andrew: Some of Elaine’s lines are a little off. What was the point of using a Southern accent to mock Kramer’s restaurant idea? Who says “your mother must be very proud” when someone tells you how well they’re doing? Also, why is Poppie’s puddle still so visible the next day? Did Jerry make no attempt to clean it? Or is that how pee stains work? Now I’m even more horrified.

Jordan: I wasn’t a fan of the David Puddy wannabe that Elaine dated. He can’t have furniture because he sees it all day? Good thing he doesn’t work with food!

Jason: Carl driving his dates around in his moving truck is a little awkward. Jerry and his damn striped polo shirts. Jerry’s new couch isn’t the best looking piece of furniture. Poppie did a favor by taking a leak on it.

Key Character Debuts

Joe Temple

Remy Temple

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– Poppie returns, he was last seen in The Pie

– “I love this couch. You know what the best part about it is? It doesn’t fold out, so no one can sleep over.” – Jerry

– “Ooh, I can’t wait to get me a fella and make mah own pie!” – Elaine

– “They got a duck there, you think you died and went to heaven.” – Kramer

– “So, anyone sweaty comes into your house has to be offered a drink?” – Jerry “Yes.” – Kramer

– “My mother…was taken from my house by the Communists in the middle of the night when I was ten years old. She was sent to a slave labor camp, where she labored for twelve years. Finally, they released her and she was on a boat to America to re-unite with us…but she was served some bad fish, and she died…on the high seas.” – Poppie “So, what’s good tonight?” – Jerry

– “Poppie, I was just curious…where do you stand on the abortion issue?” – Jerry “When my mother was abducted by the Communists, she was with child…” – Poppie “Oh, boy.” – Jerry “…but the Communists, they put an end to that! So, on this issue there is no debate! And no intelligent person can think differently.” – Poppie

– “What’s this? A bottle of wine and a five-alarm chili? They’re trying to kill Poppie?!” – Poppie “Why, what…?” – Kramer “Don’t they know I have a gastro-intestinal disorder? If I would have any of this, I would die. Then Poppie’s no good to anyone! This is a sick, sick joke on Poppie. How could you be friends with those two?” – Poppie “Well, we’re not very close.” – Kramer “They owe me for those ducks. They were flown in from Newfoundland.” – Poppie “Oh, they got good ducks there, huh?” – Kramer “Oh, very good ducks.” – Poppie

– “Well, you should probably ask, because if he’s gonna be coming over with those Paccino’s pizzas…could be trouble.” – Jerry

– “Yeah, you’re right. It’s just a natural human function…happens to be on my sofa, instead of in the toilet, where it would normally be.” – Jerry

– “Well, I was going to watch it with my daughter. She likes Audrey Hepburn very much.” – Joe “She was a delicate flower.” – George

– “Oh! Nuts! Excellent! You know what I love? How there’s two nuts named after people. Hazel…and Filbert.” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Patton Oswalt plays the video store clerk

– Joe Temple’s wife is played by Denise Dowse, who also portrayed Mrs. Teasley in Beverly Hills, 90210

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: Now we are cooking! This one started off a bit slow but once it kicked into gear, it never looked back. The abortion stuff was very topical and the way they tied it into the argument over the pizza was brilliant. Equally as brilliant was the Poppie peeing concept, as again, only Seinfeld could execute that as well as it was done. George was at his absolute best here, conniving and lying his way into a stranger’s home just to avoid reading a 90 page book. Definitely a borderline Hall of Fame episode and a real classic. If it came out of the gates a little faster, I probably would go the full monty. Joe! Final Grade: 9/10

Aaron: This is a tough one. The writing is brilliant but I didn’t love many of the performances. George was great but everything else felt a bit hollow. Man if Kramer had been a bit stronger and Elaine had a love interest who could keep up with her acting chops this one might be an all timer. As it stands it’s a fantastic piece of writing and a fun half hour to sit through. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: This is fantastic stuff. I have some minor complaints, like I wish George’s storyline had intersected with the main plot a bit more. But there’s no reason to quibble over greatness.Final Grade: 9/10

Jordan: Just a terrific episode carried by the strength of George. Jerry’s reaction to Poppie leaving a stain on his couch was bad, but the story itself is really entertaining. The abortion stuff was really well done, and Elaine being so passionate fits her character. The Temples are terrific with their contempt for George and bump this one up a bit for me. Final Grade: 9/10

Jason: I’ve been looking forward to watching this episode for quite some time. One of my personal favorites that holds up as well as I remembered. The return of Poppie, the debut of Poppie’s bladder issues, the abortion debate and George showing up to a strangers house to watch a movie because he’s too lazy to read the book version. Everything comes together so well with great writing and storylines. I’ve come to a conclusion about something in the series as well. With Jerry being so protected about every knocking a woman up in last week’s episode and Elaine’s stand on abortion last week, there’s no doubt that Jerry slipped one past Elaine and she got an abortion while they dated. This episode is a succulent as Newfoundland duck! Final Grade: 10/10