Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The English Patient” (S8, E17)

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 thought everyone was pretty strong here, from Jerry and George right down to Izzy and Peterman. Everyone played their role well and hit their lines along the way. That said, I thought Jerry and Kramer stood above the rest thanks to their fantastic delivery on some biting yet absurd lines. Both delivered in every scene and as a result their stories were the most consistently enjoyable.

Aaron: Elaine in pain always wins for me. Her pure loathing of the film is perfect as it’s one of the most boring pieces of cinema of the 20th century. Fuck Blaine. He’s going to see the movie with a woman who pronounces it Ray FEEN. FEEN? No. Die a horrible death you old bag. Poor Elaine gives up a job to get out of that theatre. If that’s not an indictment of Juliette Binoche and Ray Feen I don’t know what is.

Andrew: I love Elaine in this one. Her fascination with the Sack Lunch poster is a great bit, and “Gimme something I can use!” might be my single favorite line of hers. I really enjoy the way her disbelief at being the only person to dislike the movie turns her to hatred and lashing out at others. And her boredom at having to sit through this movie a second time is incredible.

Jordan: Lots of good performances here, but I can’t go against condescending Jerry. The way he talks down to George and the Mandelbaums is vintage Seinfeld. Elaine would be my second choice for her total agony while watching The English Patient a second time, but it’s not enough to top Jerry, who went Hall of Fame in his snide remarks here.

Jason: There’s plenty of choices here. I love Elaine making a scene while at the movie with Peterman. George’s obsession over meeting Neil had some strong moments. Jerry killed it again with some great one-liners. Izzy had me laughing plenty with his beaming dialogue and antics. With that said, I’m going with Kramer. He knew that the “Cubans” were people and not cigars, but didn’t tell Jerry. Transforming the Dominicans into Cubans by teaching them about communism, dressing them up in Cuban military gear and cooking up his sauce in Jerry’s apartment all brought on big laughs from me.

Best Storyline

JT: I will go with the Mandelbaums here as it tied in Jerry’s trip to Florida as well, which included a great showing by Morty and his #1 Dad shirt. The parade of Mandelbaums failing one after the other was unveiled nicely and I liked Izzy just admitting the only thing he needed to keep Magic Pan alive was someone to roll the crepes. The shirt stuff was really good and I liked Jerry’s comment about the rankings too. All the stories worked in this one, but I thought this was the most consistent.

Aaron: The Meldelbaums. The pettiness of the elderly is taken to a whole new level with these clowns.

Andrew: The Mandelbaum storyline has always brought me so much joy. Izzy is a delight, and he and Morty competing in the novelty t-shirt dad rankings cracks me up. Jerry annoys me a bit when he lets Izzy Sr. take a shot at lifting the TV, but the sight of the three generations laid up in bed chanting “Mandelbaum” more than makes up for it.

Jordan: Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! Mandelbaum! The story itself is ridiculous and funny, Jerry is on FIRE throughout, and it has a nice payoff with the not so Cuban Dominicans. I love the youngest Mandelbaum’s voice, and Jerry’s response to him telling him to pick on someone his own age. “You got any kids?”

Jason: Again, some plenty of choices here. The George and Danielle stuff had it moments. Kramer and his cigar scheme was fun. The title plot had some legs, especially from Elaine. However, the Mandelbaums take it for me. Watching the three old guys and their competitiveness along with Jerry firing back at them made from great sitcom TV.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: If you were Earl Haffler would you trust Kramer with a big business deal after their previous interactions? Yes, that is how these big business men are so successful! Always keep hustling, Big Earl!

Aaron: Will a top hat, monocle, cane and mustache truly make the difference between finding a mate and dying alone eating peanuts? As an experiment just try it. TRY IT. Slap those things on and see if you don’t fuck your way up and down the east coast. I KNOW women, trust me and women KNOW class. You know what’s classy as fuck? A monocle. Think of the god dam focus you need to keep that in your eye. You think that doesn’t tell her that you can’t raise a somewhat adequate son? Think of the swords or spears you could conceal in that cane. Your father pissing you off? You could stab him right in the heart in front of his mistress. You ever worn a mustache? It’s breathtaking. I once wore a Hitler mustache for an entire day and the looks I was getting were pure respect and adulation. The next day I wore a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and walked three blocks through Montreal. I got screamed at eight times. EIGHT times in three blocks. Imagine the fear I would have struck in their hearts had I kept the mustache and worn my SS uniform. The only drawback is the top hat as it completely false advertizes the size of your head. When a woman rips it off in a fit of passion she’ll be expecting it to be full of skull. Only then will your mettle truly be tested.

Andrew: Do you have to visit someone in the hospital because they got hurt trying to compete with you? Is that a thing?

Jordan: Should Elaine be so bothered that she got dumped for not liking a pretentious turd in The English Patient? No, she is a goddess sent here from above to show us beauty in it’s most perfect form. We are blessed to have her with us, and if we like The English Patient, WE CAN GO TO HELL.

Jason: The English Patient SUCKED! Team Elaine over here. Does sex in a tub work? Depends how big the tub is.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: George needs to wake up, what a wasted opportunity. Danielle was ready to go! Blaine sucked, not much else cooking here. Relationship Grade: Monocle/10

Aaron: How broken must Danielle be for George to be such a giant step up from Neil Armstrong? She shows all the traits of a woman whose loved ones have been systematically murdered by some psychopath trying to get into her pants. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Andrew: George continues to do better than he deserves, and Elaine continues to date chumps who aren’t nearly good enough for her. It’s almost like there’s a pattern. Plus, Blaine and Elaine feels like an awful name pairing. Relationship Grade: I admire your skills, Mr Peanut / 10

Jordan: Neil wins. End of story. Relationship Grade: Mr. Peanut/10

Jason: George is an idiot for not taking up Danielle’s offer to bang. Speaking of banging, Carol and Blane, right? Relationship Grade: #1 Signing Off/10

What Worked:

JT: The cold open conversation about the movie theatre concession stand promos was good; I like Kramer buttering up Jerry for the favor with the cheap shirt; Mr. Peanut; Elaine’s obsession with the family in Sack Lunch and then shitting all over the English Patient was great; Nice callback on Elaine’s friend’s ugly baby; Izzy’s reaction to Jerry’s inadvertent challenge was awesome as was his trash talking; Kramer getting caught making tomato sauce with no shirt on and being unable to lie on the spot is a classic line; Izzy thinking Jerry took him out so Morty could be the #1 Dad is wonderfully paranoid; George finally realizing he is Neil was well done; Elaine getting dragged to the English Patient again was a nice twist; Jerry telling Izzy to find his number was well delivered as was him questioning the best dad rankings and then asking Izzy’s son if he had kids; Loved the return of Earl Haffler; Kramer’s gibberish barking at the Dominicans was great; Dennis Casto; Peterman saying “I thought I knew what love was” in the movie; That fucking noise Kramer makes when trying to get Jerry to notice the Dominicans; The payoff with Jerry easily lifting the TV was great as was Izzy’s “yeah” when Jerry asked if he just needed someone to roll the crepes; George offering to burn his parents and then pulling the plug on Neil’s IV was a fun ending to that story; The Dominicans hijacking Elaine’s plane before she can see Sack Lunch tied everything together nicely

Aaron: The waitress sticking it to George by serving him a Halibut Omelet was great. She was just so perversely satisfied. All the business with the Cubans was solid including Ol’ Earl Haffler almost getting cheated. Morty was a little subdued but his sheer glee declaring that Number one was signing off was a nice reminder of how great a character he is. Speaking of the innocence of a child Elaine’s quest to see SACK LUNCH is wonderful right down to her questioning how they got in there. Jerry sums up George’s situation so perfectly it almost hurts by saying ” She wanted you to come up but you left because you thought some guy MIGHT be calling you???” Finally all the Mendelbaum stuff is fabulous. I love, LOVE how quickly Izzy declares the TV fair game when his son offers to lift anything in the room over his head.

Andrew: Morty being so won over by the “#1 Dad” shirt is so great, and I love his reaction to finding Jerry with the “Cuban” cigar rollers: “Don’t tell your mother”. Speaking of which, I get a kick out of the Cuban cigar/person confusion bit. Jerry being able to tell Kramer has no shirt on over the phone always makes me laugh, especially when he catches him with “What color is it?” The idea behind George’s storyline is great: a worse looking version of him dating a gorgeous woman would be a mystery that’s hard to let go of. And his obsession leading him to miss Danielle hitting on him is really funny.

Jordan: Kramer cooking in Jerry’s apartment with no shirt on was funny, but the fact that Jerry sussed it out is even better. I like him busting Kramer by simply asking him to name the color of the shirt. Morty’s #1 dad shirt exposing every single roll he has was terrific, and Mandelbaum flaunting the World’s Greatest Dad shirt later on was funny. I love the Mandelbaum stuff, and how there is always an ambulance nearby, as well as the final gag with Jerry picking up the TV with ease. Elaine’s fascination with Sack Lunch is cute and fun, and I would rather see that movie too. Maybe it IS a giant sack! George getting a Halibut Omelet as his surprise meal was fun, and is a nice note to the George character – the wait staff probably hates him with a passion.

Jason: Halibut omelette; the #1 Dad shirt being way too small for Morty; Mr. Peanut; George being taller and in better shape than Neil; Sack Lunch; Elaine shitting on the English Patient to Carol and her crew; “How about, it sucked?”; Jerry reminding Morty that he bought him a Cadillac, twice; Izzy stepping up to Jerry at the gym; Helen telling Jerry to be more mature than Izzy and reminding her that Izzy is 80; crepe money; Izzy shaming Morty’s shirt; IT’S GO TIME!; “There’s a new Neil in town.”; Elaine lying to Peterman about seeing the movie and it back firing on her; Elaine fucking around at the movie; “Oh, go to hell!” World’s Greatest Dad; Earl being Kramer’s investor; Dennis/Dwayne Castro; Izzy and his some “being the same age”; Jerry’s, “Oh, come on!” after Izzy Sr. comes in the room; the Madelbaum boys lined up in hospital beds; the crepes exploding when the Dominican’s roll them too tight; Neil getting burnt; “George, I win.” George pulling Neil’s IV drip; the Dominican’s wearing the #1 Dad shirts while hyjacking the plane and demanding that Sack Lunch get shut off

What Didn’t Work

JT: How did they make that halibut omelet so quickly?; I thought Elaine’s friends lived out in the country, why are they in the city for the movie?; Blaine is a clown; Izzy’s son calling Izzy “Daddy” when he is like 60 years old was a bit much; I can’t buy that Elaine has never successfully had sex in a tub

Aaron: The other Peterman employee who was RAVAGED by the English Patient needs a punch in the dick. True story I know a guy who met Wrestler Lex Luger once backstage at a show. He said “Hey brother” to which Lex replied, “First of all I’m not your brother and second of all you’d better back off before I put my fist in your dick.” In. He said in. That’s what that guy deserved.

Andrew: George goes from obsessing over Neil to competing with him really suddenly, and it derails that story a bit for me.

Jordan: Like Andrew said, George goes from being oblivious to being able to score with Danielle because he’s so obsessed with Neil to hating Neil really fast. Seems like an important scene was left out here.

Jason: The name Blane sucks as does he. Did the Mandelbaums actually go through the proper hiring process with Kramer’s guys or are they working under the table?

Key Character Debuts

– Danielle

– Izzy Mandelbaum

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Why’s he dating a Pepsi? They’re not having children.” – Jerry “He’s a musician.” – Elaine “Musicians. Get a real job.” – Jerry

– “Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he and I are exactly the same, except for one minor, yet crucial, detail. You never know.” – George “Sometimes you do.” – Jerry “Maybe it’s some small thing I could change. Like a mustache. Or
wearing a top hat, or a monocle, or a… or a cane.” – George “Who’s she dating? Mr Peanut?” – Jerry

– “You look like you’re in better shape than Neil. Do you work out?” – Danielle

– “Son, this is the most wonderful and thoughtful thing you’ve ever done for me.” – Morty “You know, I bought you a Cadillac. Twice.” – Jerry

– “Izzy used to work out with Charles Atlas in the fifties.” – Morty “Eighteen-fifties?” – Jerry

– “You’re not sleeping in that shirt. It’s too tight.” – Helen “This shirt will never leave my body.” – Morty

– “Ugh. You wouldn’t believe it. My boyfriend dumped me. My friends, who I don’t even like, they won’t talk to me. All because I don’t like that stupid English Patient movie.” – Elaine “Really? I thought it was pretty good.” – Waitress “Oh, come on. Good? What was good about it? Those sex scenes! I mean, please! Gimme something I can use!” – Elaine

– “Oh, I see how it works now. He knocks me outta commission, so you can strut around in your fancy number
one shirt. Well, I’ll show you who’s number one.” – Izzy

– “I try to take a vacation, I come back, the whole operation’s a shambles.”

– “Jerry, that shirt is gone right to his head.” – Helen “Number One, signing off.” – Morty

– “Jerry, once you’ve had real Cubans, there’s just nothing else like it.” – Kramer “We’re talking about people, right?” – Jerry “Yes, yes. The quality, the texture, the intoxicating aroma. These guys don’t have it.” – Kramer “I thought they smelled pretty nice.” – Jerry “Jerry, your palate’s unrefined.” – Kramer

– “Again, Mr Mandelbaum, this back specialist is supposed to be the best. So if there’s anything else I can do, please don’t hesitate to, uh, try and find my number.” – Jerry “Uh, oh, wait. “How ’bout that, huh? The World’s Greatest Dad. My son made it for me.” – Izzy “That’s very nice.” – Jerry “The best in the world. Which means I’m better than just number one.” – Izzy “Well, I don’t know how official any of these rankings really are.” – Jerry

– “What is with this family?” – George “I dunno. It’s like, if one of ’em dies, the other one wants to bench press the casket.” – Jerry

– “So, I taught ’em all about Cuba, and they really took to it. You know, Marxism, the Worker’s Revolution, the clothing.” – Kramer “Boy, they seem pretty angry about something.” – Jerry “Yeah. I’m a little worried. When there’s no work, and the people get restless, who do you think they come after? El Presidente!” – Kramer

– “Oh yeah, that’s right. Go. Put us all in the hospital. And you’ve ruined our business with all your macho head games.” – Izzy

– “Elaine, I hope you’re watching the clothes, because I can’t take my eyes off the passion.” – Peterman

– “These Dominicans really know their way round a crepe. Look at that. It’s like they’re rolling a double corona. Just a cigar made outta bisquik, huh, Guillermo?” – Kramer

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Legendary actor Lloyd Bridges portrays Izzy Mandelbaum

– We last saw Earl Hafler in The Diplomat’s Club (S6, E22)

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This episode was way better than I remembered it to be. I thought all four stories meshed well and they all seemed to get the perfect amount of spotlight on them. The guest spots were all good too, even that dork Blaine. Jerry was at his crisp, biting best and seeing Elaine stand alone against the world was a fun turn for her. George obsessing over Neil and ignoring Danielle was perfectly in line with his character as was Kramer executing yet another ill fated scheme. This was an episode where everyone did their job and were supported by great writing and strong cameos. Fun episode. Final Grade: 8/10

Aaron: Great episode top to bottom. The Meldelbaums are instant guest start classics and everyone else has a strong outing. Bonus points for taking down that god damn movie. “I thought I knew what love was?” Give me a break. Final Grade:  8/10

Andrew: I really like this episode. Elaine and her hatred for The English Patient has always stuck with me, and the Mandelbaums make for one of the more quotable storylines. Any episode with Jerry’s parents does well in the guest star category, but Lloyd Bridges takes it to another level. The Cuban cigar/communist revolution isn’t as memorable as the rest of the episode, but still solid. It’s not a perfect episode, but one I’m always happy to see on. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: This one is a lot of fun. I’m not a huge fan of the Cuban storyline, but it played into everything else just fine so I can look past it. Jerry is at his absolute best here, and I wouldn’t have minded a spin off of Helen and Morty in Florida at this point in the show. Every time Jerry heads down there it’s good stuff. Elaine’s freak out in the theater is another really nice moment that is somewhat memorable. Excellent stuff.  Final Grade: 8/10

Jason: I liked this one a lot. There was just enough given in each plot to make everything work. The Mandelbaum boys were tremendous. It was nice to see Earl pop up again. The pay-off at the end on the plane was quite brilliant, having a little bit from each plot involved. We’re at a stretch in the series where there’s a nice quality of writing going on. Final Grade: 8/10