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!
JT: Kramer took the cake in this episode. I loved his whole scheme centered around Jerry stereo and then how he left him hanging for the investigation. His mocking of George’s plan to ask out Sheila was really funny and the photo shoot is an absolute classic. Hell, even toss in the cold open and he was just on point the whole way through. Honorable mention to Newman too, as he was great in the interrogation scenes.
Aaron: Sometimes quality trumps quantity. This was made abundantly clear to me as I saw that hoss of a man caressing that sweet pig on his lap. The swine’s closing squeal was a pitch perfect snapshot of an animal ashamed to share a waiting room with an Uncle Leo. It’s the pig.
Andrew: No one really jumps out at me, but I’ll go with Elaine. She spends the episode trying to convey both the discomfort of the rash and the frustration with the medical community, which is fairly impressive work. And her “Benes, you jackass” was my favorite line reading of the episode.
Jordan: I thought about George for the photo shoot, but that can’t happen without Kramer, so he’s my choice. He facilitates the photos, he sold his stereo for steak, and I love when he portrays doctors. The clinic called, they’re running out of Dr. Van Nostrand!
Jason: I’ll go with Kramer this week. He was great comforting George during the big photo shoot. In addition, fun showings during the debut of his alter ego Dr. Van Nostrand and coming up with the post office scheme for Jerry. An honorable mention goes to Newman for his grilling of Jerry during the post office investigation.
JT: George’s seduction of Sheila easily wins this week. Sheila is quite fine and watching George go gaga for her was relatable. Kramer chucking cold water on his plan and then sucking him into the game of flirtation was great. The photo shoot is iconic and the closing scene wrapped things up nicely. Plus, Ron’s smile in the photo shop always cracks me up.
Aaron: The timeless art of seduction. The reciprocal photo from Ron was as sexual as it was tasteful.
Andrew: Another tough call, but I think it’s the timeless art of seduction. The photo shoot with Kramer and George is really good, especially George’s initial hesitance turning into wild abandon. And the closing scene with the two photos is excellent.
Jordan: Ron the photo developing pervert is probably my favorite story. I like this even more than George trying to woo Sheila. How many seductive photos do you think he has taken over the years? If George is enough to get his motor running, I have to imagine he has quietly slid a topless photo of himself into no less than 10,000 packs of photos. So many people in the city of New York have been exposed to Ron’s animal sexuality.
Jason: Easily, the Timeless Art of Seduction. George, Kramer and Big Ron all killed it. The big payoff at the end with Shelia bursting in on Ron’s blown up picture sealed the deal.
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
JT: Should you let your good friend take sexy photos of you with the goal in mind of forcing them upon on a stranger in an attempt to bang them? It was 1996, why the fuck not. That was how the world worked in those days. YOU’RE A LOVER BOY!
Aaron: What kind of a doctor refuses to help a rashed up patient on account of her asking a harmless question about her file. I get the others. Elaine crosses a boundary from which few have ever returned. That first guy was a dipshit though.
Andrew: Was Elaine right to try to justify her “difficult” behavior from 1992? I get wanting to set the record straight, but that never works. No one cares, and you just end up looking petty. She was totally right to point out the fake erase though, that was some condescending shit.
Jordan: Should the doctor have held it against Elaine that she called him out on his lies? No. This is why Big Pharma is running America. The white labcoats are deciding who is difficult and who is sane. Soon we’ll all be eyebrowless, rash filled sponge users…and we never saw it coming.
Jason: Does anyone actually know what a write off is? Well, besides it being Irwin R. Schyster’s clothesline finisher.
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
JT: Sheila is a fucking smoke show. The best, Jerry. The best. Relationship Grade: 10/10
Aaron: George. Ron. A tub of grease. A stunning paradise where flowered shirts are strewn about as though they were murdered dogs. Relationship Grade:10/10
Andrew: The “extra teeth look” conversation fascinates me: without context it sounds horrifying, yet I know exactly what they mean. Relationship Grade: The key word is tasteful/10
Jordan: I guarantee one thing from watching this episode. Newman had sex with that can of soda Jerry was drinking from. I don’t know how, and I don’t know how painful it must have been, but the lust was there. Relationship Grade: BASIC INSTINCT/10
Jason: I like to think that Ready for the World wrote their song for Sheila. Her and George would have had an easier time if cell phones were around at this time. Relationship Grade: Costanza Dick Pics/10
JT: Kramer wistfully waxing nostalgic about the Bermuda Triangle always get me, as does him shooting down Newman asking why the Triangle doesn’t take the water and then agreeing on the alien autopsy; The doctor fake erasing with the pen; Kramer trading his stereo to Lomez for steaks is an amazing throwaway line; George’s line about the airline bombing Jerry for all the peanut jokes; Kramer convincing George to partake in the ancient art of seduction, his line mocking George’s plan is so good; Jerry’s line about Kramer getting steak sauce is a sneaky little play off K-Man getting Lomez’s steaks; Leo pissing Jerry off by talking about Jeffrey; Kramer and Jerry talking about write offs; The photo shoot scene is an all time classic; “You are a lover boy!”; Awesome Phil Hartman cameo; Kramer tossing Jerry under the bus at the post office; Newman interrogating Jerry is a tremendous scene too; Nice callback to Dr. Van Nostrand; Kramer thinking Elaine’s last name is Bennett; Ron’s knowing smile at George; Newman’s final rant and the giant blown up photos of George and Ron were a good capper to the episode
Aaron: George’s poses are epic. The writing was solid and everyone was pretty good. Boy this is a real A-1 showing from me here.
Andrew: I like what they were going for with the unrelenting bureaucracy of the AMA. There’s some solid dialogue in this one: the discussion about who is more bombable, who knows what a “write off” is, Kramer doubting Elaine’s last name. And the visual gags work: the photo session, the business card that just says “NEWMAN”, Uncle Leo’s eyebrows. I really enjoyed the vaguely threatening mailman who tries to deliver the package, and Newman’s silent co-worker was good. The Dr. Von Nostrand scene is excellent, and the closer with the boudoir photos side-by-side is a winner.
Jordan: I mean, of course the photo shoot. George starting off a little shy, only to be urged into becoming a lover boy is a lot of fun. The Elaine doctor saga is pretty fun, and I like her calling out the doc for lying right to her face. Newman’s interrogation where he has the hot lights on himself was stupid in a good way. Anytime Uncle Leo appears it’s good stuff.
Jason: Kramer and Newman smoking cigars and shooting the shit about the Bermuda Triangle; Elaine’s gown story; fake erasing; Kramer trading his stereo to Lomez for some steaks; extra teeth; Jerry’s, “They’ve gotten to know you.’ line to Elaine about her being difficult; the mailman and Jerry bickering about refusing the package; George leaning on a Mercedes and grabbing a picture with wax museum Burt Reynolds; “Well hello, photo store Shelia’; Kramer mocking George about how he’s flirting with Shelia; Elaine’s nipple picture throwback and George’s creep look at her; Elaine wiping down the phone with her rash then getting caught with her file in the elevator; cousin Jeffery; ‘the key word is tasteful.’; the AMA calling Elaine in the middle of the night; Elaine painting on Leo’s eye brows; DR. VAN NOSTRAND!; “The Netherlands?”; Newman grilling Jerry during the investigation; Newman’s business card; Ron’s big smile at George; Newman calling George pretty boy; the unveiling of George’s picture.
What Didn’t Work
JT: Dr. Stern is pretty creepy; What the fuck is with Danny the Mailman; Elaine’s issues with the doctors and her chart never really connected with me; The post office interrogation was funny but Newman having the ability to drag both Jerry and George in for investigations felt like a bit of a reach
Aaron: The doctor was just told that Leo had no eyebrows and yet he is furious at Leo for his attitude. Kind of a lazy way to get Leo banned.
Andrew: There’s a lot of “don’t think too hard about it” plot stuff going on. Why would the AMA care so much about Elaine trying to alter her chart? Why would Ron think George’s photos were directed at him? Why would Elaine think drawing eyebrows on Leo would calm him down? I enjoy the wackiness of it all, but it still feels a little unpolished.
Jordan: Not really the fault of the show, but this is one that absolutely would not hold up today just in terms of plots. Nobody has film developed anymore and Elaine could simply meet someone in the NSA, sleep with him, and have him hack the medical records to change her difficult analysis to WONDERFUL. Also, I doubt many people own stereos anymore either, nor ship through the post office. I am old.
Jason: How does Newman qualify to question customers during mail fraud investigations? George’s flirting with Shelia was pretty bad.
Key Character Debuts
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– “What’s the matter with your stereo?” – Jerry “I traded it to Lomez for some steaks.” – Kramer
– “She’s got this incredible smile. Like she’s got extra teeth or something.” – George “Extra teeth. I love that look.” – Jerry
– “I’m not difficult. I’m easy.” – Elaine “Why because you dress casual and sleep with a lot of guys?” – Jerry
– “Why can’t I be bombable?” – Jerry “Who’s going to bomb you. An airline for all the stupid little peanut jokes.” – George “I suppose you think your bombable?” – Jerry “Hey. There is a couple of people that wouldn’t mind having me out of the way.” – George “There’s more than a couple.” – Jerry
– “She goes to these lengths to entice you and your only response is “Gee I really like your picture. Would you like to go out on a date with me please.”” – Kramer “No good?” – George “George. It’s the timeless art of seduction. You got to join in the dance. She sends you an enticing photo, you send her one right back.” – Kramer “Oh, I don’t know.” – George “Well as you know I’ve always been something of a photog.” – Kramer “Oh yeah I like this idea.” – Jerry
– “Jerry, Your cousin Jeffrey is in the Parks Production of The Macardo. I want you to go see it with me.” – Uncle Leo
– “Yeah but the explosion singed off his eyebrows, mustache everything. He’s all smooth now. Look’s like a seal.” – Jerry
– “It’s just a write off for them.” – Kramer “How is it a write off?” – Jerry “They just write it off.” – Kramer “Write it off what?” – Jerry “Jerry all these big companies they write off everything.” – Kramer “You don’t even know what a write off is.” – Jerry “Do you?” – Kramer “No. I don’t.” – Jerry “But they do and they are the ones writing it off.” – Kramer “I wish I just had the last twenty seconds of my life back.” – Jerry
– “No, no. You’re stout. The camera loves stoutness. Look were not going to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. The key word is tasteful. Now I want you to relax and have fun because your a fun guy. All right let’s do it. Okay come on. Feel the beat. Feel the beat. You know you got some real strong pecks but it’s hard to tell under that T-shirt.” – Kramer
– “Hello Jerry.” – Newman “Hello Newman.” – Jerry “Kramer you might as well run along. Jerry might be a while. Suspicion of mail fraud.” – Newman “Mail fraud. You’re in a lot of trouble buddy.” – Kramer
– “Bennett right?” – Kramer “Benes. My last name is Benes you jackass. Yeah.” – Elaine
– “It looks like your breaking into it like an otter breaking into a clam.” – Newman “I don’t know about that but I’m sure there is a explanation.” – Jerry “Yes. It’s called mail fraud. Oohhhh. How I’ve longed for this moment Seinfeld. The day when I would have the proof I needed to haul you out of your cushy lair and expose to the light of justice as the monster that you are. A monster so vile…” – Newman
Oddities & Fun Facts
– Elaine references her Christmas card that featured her exposed nip from The Pick (S4, E13)
– Phil Hartman makes a cameo as the mysterious AMA caller that wakes up Elaine in the middle of the night
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
JT: There is so much to like here and the episode featured some real classic stuff like the photo shoot, the post office interrogation and Kramer fucking up Elaine’s last name. The Van Nostrand callback was fun and I always laugh at the Lomez line. Kramer, George, Jerry and Newman all really had strong performance and Ron and Sheila were strong in support. That said, the Elaine stuff just completely fell flat to me. It didn’t produce many laughs and felt like just an excuse to give Elaine something to do and eat up time. There had to be something better for her to do. Even the scene with her and Leo at Dr. Reznick’s just went nowhere. The good easily outweighs the bad but that Elaine stuff keeps this from climbing the ladder. Also, it gets a one point bonus for having an all time iconic scene. Final Grade: 7/10
Aaron: Solid fun with one of the most memorable photographs in television history. Final Grade: 7/10
Andrew: This is a solid episode with some high points, most of them featuring George in a state of undress. I enjoyed it, but I can’t really point to anything especially good or bad about it. Well, other than the photo. Final Grade: 7/10
Jordan: Above average episode that isn’t quite in the pantheon of all time greats. The Costanza photo is behind only “The Kramer” in the most famous of Seinfeld images, for my money. Throw in some Uncle Leo and Newman and I’m easy to please. Final Grade: 8/10
Jason: This episode was Ok. I was not a big fan of Elaine’s chart stuff. A nice effort, but it fell flat. The Timeless Art of Seduction, Dr. Van Nostrand and Newman stole the episode. The mail fraud stuff and photo store stuff blended in nicely. Overall, the good outweighed the bad. Final Grade: 7/10