Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Mom & Pop Store” (S6, E8)

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 will go with Jerome here. He was a real asshole to George, taking delight in his foibles over Voight’s car. But, for once, it all caught up to Jerry and he ended up being the jackass in the end. His cowboy boots, mockery of George, spelling names wrong, and destroying a beloved holiday tradition were all very well executed. EVERYBODY’S TALKIN’ AT ME!

Aaron: This is the rarest of episodes for me. Much like the appearance of a unicorn or a black astronaut it’s extremely rare that I enjoy Jerry the most of the bunch. When it came right down to it he gave me two solid laughs; first as he outright laughs in George’s face when they’re driving in Voight’s care and second when he declares, “No it’s stupid, ” in the face of the arm/pencil matching game. Throw in him sneaking around the party mumbling “Dentist?” and the driest Woody Woodpecker laugh in the history of television and he squeaks this one out.

Andrew: I think it’s Gerri. You just can’t beat the glee with which he openly mocks George in his own car (“Sometimes I spell Jerry with a G … and an i!”). I also like that his idea of surreptitiously finding someone to look at this tooth is to just walk around whispering “dentist” at people.

Jordan: I’m going with Jerry.  This may sound odd, the cowboy boots sealed it for me. I am a sucker for Jerry ripping on George, and the Jon Voight car was perfect material for him. Throw in his sneaking into Tim’s party, snooping around locking for a dentist, and breaking the Woody Woodpecker balloon, and this episode belonged to Gerome.

Jason: There’s no way in hell I can choose one person here. The entire freakin’ cast takes it! The core four were all on their A Game. Mom & Pop heading for the hills and selling Jerry’s sneakers at a garage sale was fantastic. Jon Voight biting the K-Man is so iconic and Tim Whatley nailed it in his debut.

Best Storyline

JT: The Jon Voight Car. It had it all, including George desperately trying to trick the Yankees into celebrating Jon Voight Day just so he can ask about his car. A true mastermind. And it all paid off in the end. I DON’T HEAR A WORD THEY’RE SAYIN!

Aaron: It’s short but I’m a big fan of Mr. Pitt’s quest to take part in the parade. Seeing the dignified Pitt in peril is always fantastic, and as he struggled to maintain his sanity while griping a giant balloon my heart filled with a glee usually reserved for punishing insects.

Andrew: I like the car storyline the most. George’s vanity wins out over research in his car choice, and when his decision is questioned, he goes overboard trying to prove he wasn’t foolish to believe a used car salesman. Throw in Jon Voight biting Kramer, and that’s an excellent storyline.

Jordan: I feel like it could have been the Mom and Pop Store, but we didn’t quite get enough. On the other side of things, the Jon Voight car stuff was everywhere, and it all delivered. Easy choice for me.

Jason: Everything with George’s car takes it here. His excitement over the LeBaron being Jon Voight’s.  Matching the pencil teeth marks up with teeth marks from getting bit. All topped off with the car belonging to John Voight the Periodonist. Brilliant writing all around with everything tying in perfectly.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Should Mr. Pitt have allowed his children some enjoyment? Any? I understand he was upper crust at a time when that meant you had to blow your nose on the poor, but still. He could have built his own Woody Woodpecker balloon and allowed his poor son to ride on it or something. Live a little! ONLY THE ECHOES OF MY MIND!

Aaron: Who would win a fist fight between Liam Neeson and Jon Voight? I think at the time this thing was filmed you’d have to go with Voight, almost on Deliverance alone. The years have been kind though to Neeson’s tough guy image. Let’s face reality here: Taken was a game changer. Under no circumstances would you want to fight the Taken guy. In fact if I had the choice between fighting that guy (whose name I’m too lazy to look up) and getting raped by anyone from Deliverance I’m probably taking the rape. Bryan Mills would laugh off any attack that Voight could possibly throw at him all the while maintaining a steely expression that would make James Bond erect with envy.

Andrew: What’s the right way to have a conversation when you can’t hear? Asking someone to repeat something more than once is far too nerve-wracking, and the episode makes a pretty good argument that just trying to guess what people are saying is a bad idea. I guess all you can do is explain the situation and ask people to write things down. This is yet another reason texting makes life so much easier.

Jordan: Should mom and pop have sold Jerry’s shoes at a garage sale? No, they are greedy, soulless monsters.

Jason: Is it Ok to ask for someone’s address from another person and not invite that person to your party? Sure is! Should you try and sell something and beef up the value because it belonged to a celebrity? Absolutley!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Jerry and Elaine. It is meant to be. If only she had moved her chair to a different table, they would be married right now. PEOPLE STOP AND STARE! Relationship Grade: Honeysuckle Jump/10

Aaron: I want to believe in my heart when I see two dogs together that they’re husband and wife  and will never get divorced. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Andrew: Elaine and Tim didn’t even make it to the first date; that’s got to be some kind of record for shortest relationship. Just tell him you can’t hear! Relationship Grade: Look at me, I’m fallin’ apart here/10

Jordan: Mom and Pop are madly in love… WITH COLD HARD CASH!!! These two money hungry vultures are made for each other. Relationship Grade:  $$$/10

Jason: Poor Tim Whatley got cock blocked big time. He’s interested in Elaine and she couldn’t hear a damn word he was saying. What was Tim’s beef with Jerry? The K-Man trying to help out Mom & Pop by bringing them Jerry’s sneakers was a nice gesture.  Relationship Grade: 48 Years/10

What Worked:

JT: George being hoodwinked into Jon Voight’s Lebaron and then defending it to Jerry and Elaine; I like how Jerry’s main concern with dating a dentist is about a critique of brushing technique; I enjoy how Kramer will jam a dig at Jerry whenever he is around other people; Pitt making Elaine pick the salt of his pretzels is so good and I also love how pumped he gets about the parade contest and then Elaine telling him to shutup so she can hear the song; George singing “Everybody’s Talkin” with remade lyrics; The electrician’s delivery and cadence always makes me laugh; Poor Kramer, just trying to help Mom & Pop and he gets hosed; Jerry and George’s showdown in the car is one of my favorite all time scenes, especially Jerry’s “With a G…and an I!”; Also, the street toughs calling Jerry “cowboy”; Jerry trying to decipher the emphasis from Whatley is a classic line both times around; I love the scene where Kramer explains Mom & Pop’s scheme to Elaine and she blows it out of the water; The crew at the deli is something else; Kramer, bloodied, accosting Jon Voight and getting bit; I love Kramer and George’s celebration when Whatley says he knows Voight; The Woody Woodpecker running gag at the party was pretty good and it was funny seeing Jerry be the fool for once, crashing a party and then destroying a beloved balloon; ARVID ENGEN!; The closing scene is tremendous; I CAN’T SEE THEIR FACES!

Aaron: I found this one a little light on the great individual moments but the writing was extremely tight. Every single second moved the story forward in a believable and plausible way. No wasted words or motion here, just slick, slick writing. I am always a fan of when the gang breaks down some sort of social norm or faux pas so when they begin to discuss the rules of being invited to a party my ears perked up a little. Elaine sitting down with the big band nerds was great as you know these people exist and are just waiting to be murdered. Elaine’s analysis of Kramer and Jerry’s Mom and Pop conspiracy is wonderfully delivered in a way that only she can. Finally few things make me smile as much as an impassioned Mr. Pitt childishly accepting a request that he “shut up,” before gleefully dancing around his office. 

Andrew: George trying to justify his new convertible by driving with the top down in November … All the discussion of which word is emphasized … Elaine’s sarcastically laying out Mom and Pop’s long con … The instigator/troublemaker conversation … Jerry and Kramer riding out to dispense street justice on Mom and Pop … and I enjoyed the Midnight Cowboy references.

Jordan: George getting talked into an 89 LeBaron because of Jon Voight is legendary. I like Jerry being confused about if he is invited to the party or not, and him sneaking around is funny. Jon Voight biting Kramer seemed excessive, but also worked. I like to think if I ever get famous, I will bite anyone who comes near me. Mr. Pitt’s “Next Stop, Pottersville” dance celebration was good, as was Elaine sitting with the band geeks. I enjoyed them scoffing at her guessing an easy one. Kramer’s bloody nose causing a family business to close up shop was a nice twist. I love Jerry spotting Gregory Peck’s bicycle, and getting mocked for wearing cowboy boots was a good visual as he tries to run away.

Jason: Elaine’s joy dance when she finds out Tim invited her to his party. Jerry’s bit about why dating a dentist isn’t good; Away from the gums… Kramer calling George “Bogambo” and Jerry, Elaine & George “yuppies”; Jerry’s reaction to George getting the LeBaron; WHAT CONSUMER? I’M THE CONSUMER!; Kramer telling Mom & Pop that Jerry has Peter Pan complex; THIS PLACE COULD BLOW ANY MINUTE!; Mr. Pitt making Elaine take the salt off of his pretzels; Mr. Pitt’s rant about how his father prohibited him to participate in an activities associated with the common man; NEXT STOP POTTERSVILLE! NEXT STOP POTTERSVILLE!; Jerry rocking the cowboy boots is one of my favorite moments from the entire series; I DON’T WANNA BE A COWBOY; Jerry giving George shit when he finds the car paperwork shows the previous owner was John Voight and not Jon Voight; JERRY WITH A “G” AND AN “I”; “Everybody’s talkin’ at me…I can’t hear a word they’re sayin’…just drivin’ around in Jon Voight’s car…”; The street toughs crapping on Jerry’s boots; HEY COWBOY, WHERE’S YOUR HORSE?; Mom & Pop shutting down shop; MOM & POP AREN’T EVEN A MOM & POP?; Everything with the word emphasizing was excellent; George suggesting Jon Voight Day at Yankee Stadium; Kramer getting bit by Jon Voight and trying to match up the pencil marks with the mark on Kramer’s arm; Some great warbrode going on here; Kramer’s phenomenal trench coat and contest winner at the Dixieland Deli with the Member’s Only jacket; Jerry quietly asking party guests if they’re a dentist; Whatley putting the pencil in his mouth, ruining the teeth marks; The payoff with Whatley saying George’s car belonged to a periodontist and not the actor; Jerry bumping Elaine’s trophy off the window ledge and popping Woody Woodpecker; The Mignight Cowboy parody at the end was absolutely perfect!

What Didn’t Work

JT: Why would Tim call Jerry for George and Elaine’s addresses when he wasn’t planning on inviting Jerry? Douche move; The dubbed in Woody Woodpecker laugh from Elaine always bothered me; Why wouldn’t Elaine move her seat at the deli as opposed to going deaf?; Why are mom & pop having a yard sale on Thanksgiving morning?; ONLY THE SHADOWS OF THEIR EYES!

Aaron: There was nothing I didn’t like per se.

Andrew: This never bothered me before, but: Tim Whatley has an apartment overlooking the spot where they inflate the Thanksgiving parade balloons, and has a party the night before to … watch the inflation I guess? And Woody gets punctured the night before, then collapses on Mr. Pitt the next day? Seems like a lot of setup for a so-so joke.

Jordan: I actually didn’t get the reference at the end, with Kramer and Jerry on the bus. Other than that, not much.

Jason: Nothing this time around. NEXT!

Key Character Debuts

Tim Whatley

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “You bought a car because it belonged to Jon Voight?” – Jerry “No, no…” – George “I think yes, yes. You like the idea of telling people you’re driving Jon Voight’s car.” – Jerry “Alright, maybe I do. So what.” – George “I’ve never even seen him in a car. I mean, look at his movies. No cars. Deliverance – canoe. Midnight Cowboy – boots. Runaway Train…runaway train.” – Elaine

– “Yeah, of course you do. And do you know why? Because you’re a bunch of yuppies. It’s your go-go corporate takeover lifestyles that are driving out these Mom and Pop stores and destroying the fabric of this neighborhood.” – Kramer “Well, what’s so great about a Mom and Pop store? Let me tell you something. If my Mom and Pop ran a store, I wouldn’t shop there.” – George “Hey, Bogambo – they’ve been in the neighborhood for 48 years. Now, come on, Jerry. You’ve gotta have a pair of shoes in need of a cobblin.'” – Kramer “I really don’t wear the kind of shoes that have to be cobbled.” – Jerry

– Kramer first uses the nickname “Bogambo”

– “So many sneakers!” – Mom “Well, he’s got a Peter Pan complex.” – Kramer

– “My father was a stern man. He forbad us to participate in any activities that he thought were associated with the common man. The Thanksgiving Day Parade was first on the list.” – Mr. Pitt

– ” Next Stop Pottersville, Next Stop Pottersville! You are a genius!” – Mr. Pitt

– “Everybody’s talkin’ at me…I can’t hear a word they’re sayin’…just drivin’ around in Jon Voight’s car…” – George

– “Except Jon is spelled with an H. J-O-H-N.” – Jerry “So?” – George “Doesn’t Jon Voight spell his name J-O-N?” – Jerry “So, what are you saying?” – George “Nothing. I’m sure “Jon” probably mispelled his own name. I know sometimes I spell Jerry with a G…and an I!” – Jerry “Get out of the car!” – George “What?” – Jerry “That’s right, you heard me. Get out! You are ruining this whole experience for me!” – George “Oh, look! There’s Gregory Peck’s bicycle!” – Jerry “Get out!” – George “And Barbara Mandrell’s skateboard!” – Jerry

– “How would you find out something like that…wait a minute, what am I thinking? I’ve got the entire Yankee organization at my disposal.” – Elaine “He’ll dispose of it.” – Jerry

– “I’m afraid so. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve been asking around – they didn’t even have any kids.” – Kramer “Mom and Pop aren’t even a Mom and Pop?!” – Jerry “It was all an act, Jerry. They conned us, and they scored, big time.” – Kramer “So. Mom and Pop’s plan was to move into the neighborhood…establish trust…for 48 years. And then, run off with Jerry’s sneakers.” – Elaine “Apparently.” – Kramer

– ” Jerry, for all I know this guy went out of his way to not invite you. How am I gonna feel if I show up with an uninvited, unwelcome intruder?” – George “The way I feel when I go places with you?” – Jerry

– “So you’re gonna show up at that party with a chewed-up pencil and Kramer’s gnarled arm.” – Jerry

– “Are you the one who bought his LeBaron convertible?” – Tim “Yes! Yes, I’m the one! Hey! So, you know Jon Voight!” – George “Yes! Yes, I went to dental school with him.” – Tim “Jon Voight, the actor?” – George “No. The periodontist.” – Tim

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Bryan Cranston portrays Tim Whatley, DDS

– Jon Voight portrays himself

– This was a timely topic as the battle between mega stores and local mom & pop shops was raging throughout the decade

– When George sings the song about his car, he sings to the tune of “Everybody’s Talkin'”, which was sung by Harry Nilsson for Midnight Cowboy, a movie staring Jon Voight

– Jerry calls Elaine “Lois” after her investigative work, a reference to Superman’s Lois Lane

– The gentleman who calls Jerry about finding his sneakers was portrayed by Dan Frischman, who also played Arvid Engen in Head of the Class

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This episode has my heart I have seen it so many times and it completely holds up. Jon Voight’s car! Only Costanza would go through those lengths to prove he wasn’t duped and that moment of pure elation from he and Kramer before the dreams were dashed made it all worth it. I dug Jerry getting clowned as well as Elaine being a savant of dixieland music. And of course, we get the big debut of Tim Whatley plus a cameo from Arvid. I also fully believe that Mom & Pop scammed the K-Man. Who else holds a hastily organized yard sale on Thanksgiving morning in Parsippany? This isn’t quite a pantheon episode, but it has enough for me to push it quite close as it is one of my all time faves and a highlight of the season. I’M GOIN WHERE THE SUN KEEPS SHININ, THROUGH THE POURIN RAIN! Final Grade: 9/10

Aaron: This is a hard one to rank. Like I mentioned there was nothing I didn’t like but there wasn’t a ton that I really loved either. I was expecting to enjoy George a lot more on this rewatch but lately he’s fallen short for me. This is a good episode that while memorable for Jon Voight and the excellence of Bryan Cranston’s debut feels a little empty when compared to what’s around it. Final Grade:  7/10

Andrew: I didn’t enjoy the plot of this episode as much as I remembered; it seems like there’s more setup than payoff to a lot of the storylines. But I really enjoy the dialogue, especially throwaway stuff like George calling Woody Woodpecker an “instigator”. It’s a good sign that we’re at the point in the series where episodes can get by on the strength of the characters alone, but I do wish the writing had been better in a few places. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: Man, this one just flew by. Nothing dragged and a couple of the stories came together in classic Seinfeld fashion. I didn’t love the mom and pop storyline, but it didnt drag anything down. I am feeling generous as I write this on Paul Rudd’s old laptop! Final Grade: 10/10

Jason: I’ve been waiting to watch this episode for this column and damn it, it holds up as good as the first time I watched it 20 years ago. Perfect writing, a great debut by Tim Whatley and a memorable cameo from Jon Voight. The entire episode tied together excellent. This was great timing as we are right around the corner from Thanksgiving. What am I thankful for? This episode! Quite possibly a top ten episode in the series. Final Grade: 10/10