Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Maestro” (S7, E3)

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 tie this time around and choosing Kramer and Jackie Chiles. Their chemistry was popping right away and they played off each other seamlessly. Jackie was amazing and on point out of the gate and Kramer had some really good physical comedy here too. The balm conversation was epic.

Aaron: Truth tellers are often made pariahs in our society today. Julian Assange, Michael Moore, The Doctor of Style Slick; all destroyed with the vitriol of our cultural zeitgeist. Well I refuse to live in a world where the just are punished and the wicked thrive. It takes balls to call balms unpredictable and that’s why we should, nay MUST celebrate Jackie Chiles here. Every word out of his mouth drips of justice whether it be demanding to know if his client put the top on his cafe latte or simply employing a shady doctor named Dr. Bison. A doctor I can only assume is M.Bison from Street Fighter 2. He’s the only choice here. Any other would be outrageous, egregious and preposterous.

Andrew: Jackie Chiles is the best. I already knew his Johnnie Cochran routine was funny, but I didn’t fully appreciate until now how well he works as the foil to Kramer’s blundering self-sabotage. His righteous indignation is hilarious. It makes a big difference when the straight man is as funny as his tormentor.

Jordan: I’m going to zig while everyone else zags and go with the security guard. His acting was stellar, he was understated and nuanced. He didn’t say a lot, but his role was pivotal. And when he fell asleep in the chair? I fell out of mine! April Fools: It’s Jackie, like everyone else.

Jason: Holy cow, there’s a few solid choices here, but this episode belongs to the debuting, Jackie Chiles. Right out of the gate he was incredible. From his first meeting with Kramer to his rant about the balm and Kramer settling with Java World for free coffee. Outrageous. Egregious. Preposterous.

Best Storyline

JT: I have to go with Kramer’s lawsuit. It has Jackie, it has the Maestro, it has the balm, it has the caffeinated power walk down the street. What more do you need?

Aaron: I love Jerry spitefully needing to know if there are any houses for rent in Tuscany. Sure the chair is great. Of course the lawsuit is fun. There’s a special type of pettiness needed to enlist the help of a man named Mr. Ciccio and to drop 1700 dollars just to be proven right. Jerry has shown us time and time again he is that petty.

Andrew: I like the Tuscany storyline. The Maestro’s unprompted “don’t bother!” is perfect, so inexplicably pointed that you can’t blame Jerry for being irritated by it. And I really enjoy Jerry being so obsessed with this perceived slight that he ends up forced to rent a villa he was never interested in.

Jordan: Kramer and Jackie suing Java World seems like a layup, but man, the Tuscany rental search is pretty fun. I even like George demanding a chair for the security guard, because I watched it with the idea that he thought he could make a black friend out of it. But still – it’s Jackie Chiles and Kramer. Of course their storyline is the best.

Jason: Kramer hooking up with Jackie Chiles and settling with Java World was incredible, as was everything with George and the security guard. But, Jerry’s obsession with finding a place in Tuscany gets the nod from me. Maestro wanting to keep Jerry out of Tuscany back fires nicely when Jerry remembers Poppy is from Tuscany.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Should the workers at Java World be giving Kramer shit for his free coffees? No, why the hell do they give a shit? Do they own a stake in that franchise? If not, sling that java and keep going about your day. Leave the litigation to the suits.

Aaron:  If you’re the type of man who enthralls everyone with stories about toilet stalls, manure or the lack of technological advancement as pertains to toilet paper can you sarcastically denounce someone as scintillating for talking about canned fruit? George has been the marshal of countless conversations which border on the absurd and stomp all over human decency. For him to suggest that Jerry’s legitimate query about the nature of a canned food eater is outlandish. I once had someone tell me this story: “The other day I went to a garage sale and I saw a copy of the book “The Godfather;” I didn’t buy it. ” That was the whole story. That mess of words was a story. Fuck him and fuck his story.

Andrew: If you meet an Italian man in a shadowy restaurant, and he has a guy whispering in his ear, is it racist to think he might have mob connections? I don’t know, seems like a “better safe than sorry” situation to me. Besides, Jerry can afford to take an unplanned vacation.

Jordan: If you are a gorgeous, single woman who seems to be successful in life, should you acquiesce to a dates demands to call him “Maestro”? Unless he’s a former WCW wrestler, you shouldn’t. ELAINE CAN DO BETTER. I AM BETTER.

Jason: Should security guards be allowed to sit down? Not in a department store like the one that Susan’s Uncle owns. Should people be referred to as their profession? A doctor, yes. A Maestro, no.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Jackie and Kramer are a true match made in heaven. If I were the creators of Seinfeld, I would have immediately created a Jackie Chiles spinoff where he and Kramer move in together and Jackie bails him out of wacky situations every episode. The chemistry was impeccable. Relationship Grade: Dr. Bison/10

Aaron: I don’t want to live in a world where someone as beautiful and charming as Elaine continues to date a man after he’s nearly reduced to tears for being called by his real name. His subtle tantrum feels more apt for a child who’s been denied fist cream. What’s fist cream? I don’t know but she shouldn’t be getting into a car with a guy who’s blasting classical music while driving AND conducting through the streets of New York. He’s going to conduct them both into traction. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Andrew: The Maestro doesn’t do much for me, but if he makes Elaine happy, who am I to judge? Relationship Grade: Funiculì, Funiculà/10

Jordan: Jerry will never find true love in the dating world, because there is no one he loves more than himself. Jerry was meant for Jerry. He takes great delight in talking about canned food while people around him have meaningful conversations. He derides and mocks anyone for any reason he can find but never thinks less of himself. He probably stares at himself in the mirror for hours on end, eating peaches and mocking people who eat them out of cans. Jerry probably takes great joy in being master of his domain, because he is TRULY loving himself. Relationship Grade: SELF LOVE/10

Jason: Elaine and the Maestro make a good looking couple, but too bad Bob’s ego gets in the way. Elaine shouldn’t have to call this guy anything but Bob. Relationship Grade: Beethoven’s 7th/10

What Worked:

JT: I like how these early episodes have quickly threaded together with this one picking off almost right where the last episode left off; Jackie Chiles is awesome right away; Dr. Bison cracks me up every time; George is a class act here, thinking of the poor security guard; Kramer and Elaine arguing over the court case was so good; The Maestro!; Jerry pissing Maestro off by calling him Bob right away was funny; Kramer closing the door with his foot and then acting out Flight of the Bumblebee was a great one-two punch; Jerry’s dig about suffering was a high quality joke; George ordering the billing coffee after finding out Kramer’s impeding windfall; Seeing Kramer and Jerry first thing in the morning was a nice touch and something we haven’t seen before; I enjoy the bust directness of the security guard; The balm argument in the cab is a classic; Kramer and Jackie have instant chemistry, right down to trying to walk into the doorway together; Kramer’s accepting the unlimited coffee without hearing the rest of the offer is a great payoff; Maestro blasting the orchestra in his convertible was quite the scene; George’s “I suppose he could swivel” was fantastic; Kramer’s caffeinated power walk; “Si, Si, I’m a Ciccio”; Good back-to-back scenes with Jerry and George’s plans both blowing up in their faces

Aaron: George’s quest to get the security guard a chair is wonderful despite my ignoring of it up till now. The guard’s short, curt responses were completely on point. What the fuck does this guy want and why is he asking about a chair? There’s some nice editing with George earlier as he argues with Susan about a shirt she wants to dress him in only to find him wearing it the next time we see him. George big-timing Evan Fain into allowing the guard the chair didn’t at all make me feel bad for Fain as he was robbed later. In fact I was glad he was robbed. Who says their last name when they’re asked who they are? Kramer takes a back seat to Jackie here but I always get a kick out of the fact that he has no idea how to tie a tie. Or how to live in a society. Anyone who’s read this series knows that I was thrilled to see some fallout from the rabbi scene last week. Jerry calling George stupid for not knowing how big North Dakota is got way too big a laugh out of me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact that the Maestro’s name is Bob Cobb as a positive. THE Bob Cobb? The guy who invented the Cobb Salad? Years later Larry David would go to war with a guy in a wheelchair over the fact that Bob Cobb did NOT in fact invent that salad, and yet here we are seeing Bob Cobb in the flesh! ARE THESE WORLD’S CONNECTED? THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE! CUT BOB COBB’S HEAD OFF!

Andrew: I liked how tense the conversations are in this episode. Like Elaine making weak excuses to George for her comments to the Rabbi, while Jerry has a completely separate conversation that no one else is joining in on. Or George initially giving Jerry the no-sell on The Maestro’s “don’t bother looking for a place” comment, then getting sucked into an angry argument about how big Tuscany is. No one seems to ever get along in this episode, and I enjoy it. Kramer’s lawsuit storyline is fun, especially his overeagerly accepting the free coffee for life offer, and the over-caffeinated march down the street. George’s security guard storyline is pretty memorable, mainly for the way he’s convinced that he is right and everyone else is wrong, and for the way he’s so quick to pull rank on the store manager (“I’m probably gonna be taking over this whole place someday”). The Maestro plays his part really well, with just the right amount of pretension and self-satisfaction. And the face he makes when people call him “Bob” is perfect. And as previously discussed, Jackie Chiles is amazing.

Jordan: Man, I really love Jerry no selling Elaine and George trying to work things out. Elaine is fumbling her way into an explanation, George is being an actual human, and Jerry can’t stop thinking about Dole pineapple chunks. Great stuff. Kramer suing and introducing us to Jackie Chiles is terrific, and clearly a play off the real life story of the lady who sued McDonalds for hot coffee. The Maestro demanding to be CALLED Maestro is a fun gag, but the fact that Elaine dates him makes me sick. George thinking less of Susan for not caring that a security guard stands up is awesome, given the character’s history. Not caring for a person standing or sitting? Monstrous. Shoving children out of the way when there is a fire? Excusable. I like George trying to strike up conversation with the guy too, who seems totally suspicious of Costanza. Jerry becoming obsessed with Tuscany is a lot of fun and I feel like it should just started this episode and next episode should have been his fascination with finding a place to rent. Could have been a ton of fun. Maestro’s name being Bob Cobb is pretty ridiculous, but fun. Kramer losing his burn because of Chinese balm is good, as is Jackie’s infuriation with him. That’s what balm does! And Kramer jumping at settling with free coffee forever is a nice one too.

Jason: George and Elaine sorting out their differences from “The Postponement”. Jerry asking George if he’ll get a discount; “One would hope.” Kramer’s swank tie and sports jacket; Dr. Bison. Elaine literally doing nothing; “I sat in a chair and stared.” CHINESE BALM. Maestro and Elaine meeting for the first time; “I might be Elaine.” Kramer shutting Jerry’s door with his foot; Flight of the Bumble Bee. Jerry calling out George about Susan picking out the red shirt. George can sense the slightest human suffering; “Are you sensing anything right now?” Maestro’s annoyed look when Elaine calls him Bob at dinner. Maestro’s rant about being called Maestro. Maestro’s balm making Kramer’s burn marks heal. George confronting the security guard about sitting. Jackie and Kramer in the cab; “Who told you to put the balm on?” “The Maestro” “The who?”; Jerry the Great. Kramer interrupting the Java World crew when they’re telling him the settlement’; “It’s not hard to get free coffee. I can get my own damn coffee.” Jerry asking the Maestro about places in Tuscany; “I can’t get a sublet, a guest house, a cot, nothing?” Maestro pumping in some Verdi. George and Jerry pitching chair ideas, “I suppose he can swivel.” Kramer hyped from the cafe lattes, including the speed walking. Maestro feeling insulted when Elaine belts out Bob while they’re making out. Jerry meeting Ciccio in the back of an Italian restaurant; “Thissa one. Capiche?” George hauling the rocking chair into the store and playing it off all smooth. The great payoff with the security guard falling asleep in the chair and the store getting robbed. The A Room Without a View parody at the end and Jerry and Kramer showing up in Tuscany.

What Didn’t Work

JT: Nit pick, but the way Maestro says “balm for your burn” is absurd as is some of his other overacting; George’s red shirt is brutal; Evan Fain sucks

Aaron: I’d be shocked if the actor playing the Maestro didn’t come from a theatre background rather than film and television. His gestures and intonations are just too big for the world they’ve created here. Imagine. In a world where Cosmo Kramer lives this guy was too big. Especially in his first scene. Watch his arms and the way he tells his jokes, it’s like he’s playing a completely different style. I also have a hard time believing that a character like Bob Cobb has any friends. He may be the most off putting thing I’ve ever seen. Like you probably wouldn’t be arrested for shooting him dead in any of his car scenes.

Andrew: I don’t really have anything. I wish Jackie Chiles was in it more?

Jordan: Can I put Maestro here? I feel like I am supposed to hate him, so maybe I shouldn’t, but what a douche. The show doesn’t work for me when the characters are annoyed by people that are ACTUALLY annoying.

Jason: Susan has no business dressing George. That red shirt was hideous.

Key Character Debuts

– Jackie Chiles

– The Maestro, Bob Cobb

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “I don’t know where the rabbi got that. Ya know I never said that. I said “I’ve never seen you looser”.” – Elaine

– “So ya know, my friend and I we were going to the movies and we stopped off and bought this cafe latte.” – Kramer “Hm Hm. Oh what is that like Italian coffee?” – Jackie “Yeah that’s right.” – Kramer “Half milk, half coffee?” – Jackie

– “Yeah that’s going to be a problem. It’s gonna be a problem for them. This a clear violation of your rights as a consumer. It’s an infringement on your constitutional rights. It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous.” – Jackie “It’s definitely preposterous.” – Kramer

– “All right. Don’t change me. Susan. Don’t change me. Ya know there are a lot of woman that would love to be in your position right now.” – George “Name one.” – Susan

– “So ah, what did you do last night?” – Jerry “Nothing.” – Elaine “I know nothing, but what did you actually do?” – Jerry “Literally nothing. I sat in a chair and I stared.” – Elaine “Wow. That really is nothing.” – Jerry

– “Oh Tuscany huh? Hear that Jerry? That’s in Italy.” – Kramer “I hear it’s ah beautiful there.” – Jerry “Well if you’re thinking of getting a place there don’t bother. There’s really nothing available.” – Maestro

– “Too flashy?” – George “Yeah, it’s burning my retina.” – Jerry

– “That’s why I’m different. I can sense the slightest human suffering.” – George “Are you sensing anything right now?” – Jerry

– “I happen to know for a fact, that he was called Maestro in social situations. I once saw him at a bar and someone came up to him and said “Hello Maestro, how about a beer”. OK, so that’s a fact.” – Maestro

– “You put the balm on? Who told you to put the balm on? I didn’t tell you to put the balm on. Why’d you put the balm on? You haven’t even been to see the doctor. If your gonna put a balm on, let a doctor put a balm on.” – Jackie “I guess I screwed up huh Jackie?” – Kramer “Your damn right you screwed up. Where the hell did you get that damm balm anyway?” – Jackie “The Maestro.” – Kramer “The who? What are you talking about Maestro?” – Jackie “My friend he’s a conductor.” – Kramer “Oh oh oh, so a Maestro tells you to put a balm on and you do it?” – Jackie “Well my stomach was burning.” – Kramer “I tell you what this is. This is a public humiliation.” – Jackie “Well I didn’t know the balm was gonna work.” – Kramer “Do you know what a balm is? Have you ever seen a balm? Didn’t you read the instructions? No one can tell what a balm’s gonna do. They’re unpredictable.” – Jackie

– “Of course he is. There’s got to be houses for rent in Tuscany. Do you know how big Tuscany is?” – George “I have no idea.” – Jerry “It it’s huge. It’s probably like North Dakota.” – George “Oh, no way it’s that big.” – Jerry “It’s a big region.” – George “Do you know how big North Dakota is stupid?” – Jerry “I don’t know why I bother even talking to you.” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– N/A

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: Now we are talking! After a soft start to the season, we get a home run with a great top to bottom episode. Everyone was damn good in this one and could all have been easily considered for Best Character. We also get two strong debuts of memorable characters in the Maestro and Jackie Chiles. The scenes with Jackie and Kramer were all top notch and the payoff with Kramer screwing everything off but still getting his free coffee was sharp. The writing all tied together nicely in the end of this one as well. A nice sign after a shaky beginning.  Final Grade: 8/10

Aaron: Easily the strongest episode of season seven so far. I’m still waiting for George to take over and be the star but was pleasantly surprised to see the debut of Jackie Chiles and to get back to writing that tells the story AND jokes. Also I’m in love with Elaine. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: This is a really fun episode. Jackie Chiles is great, and The Maestro himself is pretty high up there, too. All four members of the main cast have interesting storylines, and the dialogue is solid. I didn’t find the security guard chair stuff as funny as I expected to, but maybe that’s because it’s such a quintessential Seinfeld storyline that the novelty has worn off. I wouldn’t call this an all-timer, but this is some high-level stuff. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: Jackie Chiles is here, and you instantly wish he would be on every episode. Jerry was phenomenal in this one and George had a fun little side quest of finding the perfect chair for his new black friend. A huge step up from last week with some real laughs, memorable characters and fun stories. I just wish they somehow weaved together in classic Seinfeld fashion. By the way, Aaron, ELAINE IS MINE. Final Grade: 8/10

Jason: Man, this was really fun. Each storyline held up very well with lots of laughs along the way.  Jackie Chiles was an absolute beast in his debut. It’s very good timing with this episode as I am currently very invested in The People v. OJ Simpson. Jackie Chiles being based on Johnny Cochran is absolutely brilliant. We’re still early into it, but this is my favorite episode from this season so far.  Final Grade: 9/10