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: A lot of strong performances in this one, but Kramer takes it for me. He is at his best when his meddling leads to mayhem, and that was on full display here. Plus he had the best line of the episode (and of all time in my mind) when he trashed Nana for passing out bum checks. And then he clinched it at the end by bitching about the tote bags and getting Nana to dole out a donation.
Aaron: It was tight but I’ve got to go with Kramer once again. It could have easily been Elaine but Kramer assuring Dan that he can come out since “WE here at PBS support…” is fantastically presumptuous. Now that I look over my notes for the third time I have to give it to Elaine. Her telling Nana to drop dead was incredible. Now that I look at my note again I have to go with Kramer for claiming that not cashing the cheques was “tantamount to a slap in the face.” This is so hard. Why does this have to be so hard? It’s twenty to two in the morning. If I don’t say Elaine I’ll be labeled a sexist and potentially a homophobe. It’s Elaine.
Andrew: It’s a tough call, as everyone is similarly good, including the guest stars. But I think I enjoyed Elaine the most. Her incredulity regarding Jerry’s story of Noreen flirting with him makes for a good opening scene. And I enjoyed her selling Noreen on Dan’s masculine qualities (“I know he belches a lot”). But watching her sheepishly realize she had just told off Jerry’s Nana is the best.
Jordan: This gets more difficult as the show goes on, they’ve really found a way to make all four main characters get some showcase. Having said that, I’ll go with Elaine. I enjoy her disgust at the silverware usage and telling off Nana was a great moment. I also genuinely think she was the best, and didn’t pick her to hide my sexism like someone. COUGH COUGH AARON GEORGE.
Jason: Hell, I can’t decide. Screw it, everyone wins! The core four, Noreen, high talker Dan, Nana, Uncle Leo, Danny Tartabull, the street tough. Non-stop laughs the entire way through from all. STOP THE SHOW!
JT: I will go with the check cashing only because Kramer was a force throughout it, plus Elaine and Kramer mixing up Nana for Dan was a good touch. It also brought us the funny scene of Nana being up and ready to roll at 5:30AM.
Aaron: Elaine fighting society is always fun. Elaine shouting down a bunch of “mad” people as they ridiculously cut their desserts into tiny pieces is double fun. Getting to see Mr. Pitt start a booming trend is triple fun. George shaming his fellow employees is… you get the idea.
Andrew: I’d say Dan’s high voice makes for the best storyline. I really enjoy the farce aspect, with Dan, Noreen, and Nana continually being mistaken for each other. They do a good job of continuing to raise the stakes with each misunderstanding, and Elaine telling Nana to “drop dead” was especially great. And having Dan mistaken for Danny Tartabull adds a nice touch of absurdity.
Jordan: I’ll go with Dan’s feminine voice. It played into other stories, got Elaine to tell Jerry’s nana to drop dead and was a lot of fun. I liked the goofiness of showing Dan talking with that voice dubbed over too. A close second is the candy bar cutting.
Jason: Again, a very hard decision here. The pledge drive stuff had an unforgettable payoff with Leo. The middle finger gag was very well done. The Dan, Noreen and Nana voice confusion stuff was brilliant. But, I gotta go with the candy bar cutting. So simple yet so effective by everyone involved. It was referenced by every storyline from Mr. Pitt to Danny Tartabull.
Ethical Dilemma of the Week
JT: Enough with the greeting cards! What is the obligation to always have to give a card with every gift? Some birthdays I received like six of the same card! Unless it is given as a nice thoughtful gesture and has a personal message written inside, do we need to waste the money and effort? What is the point? Why must I drop $4.99 just to attach a useless poem with my name on it to a gift? Just print a poem from the internet. Or write one yourself. I am taking a stand against the greeting card industry.
Aaron: If Elaine is fully aware that her friend’s husband sounds like a woman, shouldn’t she be a little more discerning before blabbing about said friend’s burgeoning infidelity? Yes. You’re god damn right she should be.
Andrew: Are PBS pledge drives ethical? Based on the evidence here, it’s just a bunch of overeager salesmen manipulating elderly women into spending money they can’t afford, so I’ll say no. We should probably defund PBS just to be safe.
Jordan: Who uses their middle finger to point at things? The waitress may have been unknowingly giving George the finger, but if that’s the case, use your index finger, weirdo. We’re trying to live in a society, people!
Jason: How long should you hold on to a card for before tossing it? I say it all depends what the occasion is. Birthday, holiday, sympathy, I say a week. Thank you card, a day or two.
Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)
JT: Dan and Noreen are a hot mess. Maybe they should just talk things out and maybe Dan should get an opetation so he doesn’t sound like a fucking Disney Junior character. Also, Jerry should have tossed Kristen in the trash along with her useless card. Relationship Grade: $4.99/10
Aaron: Why does Cheryl David stay married to Larry as long as she does on Curb Your Enthusiasm? She clearly hates the man and he barely tolerates her. It’s astounding. Relationship Grade: 250,000,000/10
Andrew: I’m sure Kristin has some nice qualities, but they certainly aren’t on display in this episode. And Dan needs to work on his jealousy, that’s a far bigger problem than his voice. Relationship Grade: Tantamount to a Slap in the Face/10
Jordan: We’ve only got Dan and Noreen here, and it’s gross. Dan is a lump of silly putty and Jerry shouldn’t be all that impressed that Noreen was hitting on him. He talks like a girl, she is oblivious to it, and they’re both average looking at best. It is the height of mediocrity. GEORGE would be an upgrade for Noreen, let alone Jerry! Also, Dan has a temper. If you lived next door to them, the high pitched shrills and squeaks you would hear would be hard to distinguish if they were having a fight or having sex. Either way, I am disgusted. Relationship Grade: 0/10
Jason: What an odd ball mess Dan and Noreen are. She’s not the most attractive woman, but I think she can do better than Dan. If Jerry had any chance with Kristen, he blew it the second she found the card in his trash. Relationship Grade: Channel 11/10
JT: I enjoyed Kramer getting excited that the greeting card was from Hallmark; Also, the K-Man thinking he got a slice of the PBS donation pie was a good laugh, as was Jerry’s aluminum siding retort; Elaine’s botched Noreen phone call was great, especially her panicked disengagement, and the follow up shell game with both of them bitching out Elaine was funny too; Mr. Pitt wanting the gossip while carving up a candy bar; Jerry’s stilted delivery during the PBS practice read; I am 100% with Jerome on the card situation, we have gone overboard with the cards; Kramer pushing Jerry to cash the checks was done in such a perfect Kramer way; I loved Jerry dismissing George’s attempts to secure a Yankee as “do your thing where you lie to everyone”; The indirect flipping off was a funny thread throughout; Great debut for Mr. Morgan and I love George derisively asking how he eats his candy; I love how Nana is up and dressed at 5:30AM so she has plenty of time to get to the bank before it opens; The tease with the thug and Nana was well done; Uncle Leo is awesome is always and I liked how Kramer kept chiming in during the phone call; Kramer’s line about Nana’s bum checks is one of my all time favorites; I dug the chain of eating candy and cookies with utensils leading to more and more characters doing it; George & Danny’s wild ride; Elaine telling Nana to drop dead; Kramer shutting down Dan was aces; The payoff with the broken middle finger was solid writing as was everyone eating their desserts with forks at the end
Aaron: I love the tiny “twisting” gesture that Mr. Pitt throws at Elaine when he orders her back to work. It’s also wonderful any time we’re invited into Justin Pitt’s eccentric home/office. I’m usually not a fan of arrogant George, but there was a great contrast between him “big timing” Jerry in the coffee shop and George clearly overcompensating cutting his Snickers bar in front of his higher status colleagues. Uncle Leo is his usual tornado of bad luck and yelling. George’s quest to not be given the finger is pretty classic. Is there anything more Seinfeldian than Elaine breaking down the differences between a loud talker and a high talker to her friend? WHERE IS NANA’S BANK???
Andrew: Mr. Pitt is still great, from his “get back to pencil-sharpening” gesture to his demand to know who was crying. George’s decision to class himself up by eating candy bars with a knife and fork is great, and his obsession with being flipped off is perfect. I also liked the callback to him helping Danny Tartabull with his swing. Kramer has some great moments, especially when talking Jerry into cashing Nana’s checks. Uncle Leo is great as always. And Jerry is particularly good here, pulling off his own ridiculousness (“Asked me where the ‘humor’ section was? Humor? Come on”) while also playing straight man to everyone else’s (“Alright, Do your thing, where you lie to everyone”).
Jordan: For me, just about everything. I loved Kramer here and his great desire to be on a PBS telethon. He goes from thinking he gets part of the proceeds by answering phones to being thrilled about a tote bag, and by the end of the episode he tries to hold up the whole thing until he gets it. Give the man his tote bag! Then he pushes Jerry to cash all of Nana’s checks, which may have lead to her murder if a more evil man had stopped her while she was looking for Chemical Bank. I also liked his comment to George in the diner about the waitress knowing what she was doing. Jerry wasn’t too bad here either, I don’t blame him for stammering about the greeting card in the trash. I thought him reading Danny Tartabull’s lines on the cue cards was funny too. Elaine was the best, but I’ve already discussed her. George and his obsession with being given the finger was awesome, and I liked the payoff at the end with the guy in the cast. Mr. Pitt starting a snack and dessert eating phenomenon is really funny, and the gang’s reactions to seeing it is always fun, I especially like George giving Tartabull a look of disgust as he eats a doughnut. Best part of the show was Elaine happily telling Jerry’s nana to die. Is it sad that I found her even more attractive in doing so? Uncle Leo is a can’t miss cameo every time. Noreen not being aware that Dan sounded like her was a great touch. Also, I like George being given some respect because of how he eats his candy bar. In fact, George working for the Yankees has been a huge hit so far.
Jason: Kramer and Elaine’s hello my dear/hello darling exchange. Kramer’s obsession over the tote bags and thinking he gets to pocket a percentage of the pledges he gets. Kristen’s trendy mid-90s wardrobe. Jerry telling George to do that thing he does when he lies to everyone in order to get a Yankee for the pledge drive. Kramer convinced that the waitress knows what she’s doing by pointing at George with her middle finger. NO ONE GIVES US THE FINGER, WE’RE YANKEES! Street tough guy was so great, angrily telling Nana the bank burnt down and it’s gone to being a gentleman and giving her directions to the main customer branch. Elaine telling Nana to drop dead is one of my favorite bits from the entire series. Kramer’s expressions towards Dan and namedropping alternative lifestyle shows on PBS. Leo showing up at PBS. Jerry’s Ken Burns Baseball reference. George’s road rage is always a treat. The payoff with the guy having a broken middle finger. The payoff at the end with everyone at Monk’s eating candy bars with a fork and knife.
What Didn’t Work
JT: Minor quibble, but Jerry acts like he has been getting $10 checks for decades but it only amounted to $60? Get that math straight!; I hate how Jerry says “Nana”; The end with Leo freaking out about Nana’s donation felt a bit unneeded
Aaron: Arrogant George really doesn’t do it for me. Jerry’s cue card reading reminds me of an NHL player hosting Saturday Night Live.
Andrew: Some of the mistaken incidents get a little too convenient, but that’s to be expected in a farce storyline, I think.
Jordan: I am pretty grossed out that the woman in the diner was using a knife and fork to eat an Almond Joy. Who eats Almond Joys?
Jason: Why the heck is Nana leaving her house at 5:30am to go to the bank? Jerry’s striped polo shirt wasn’t his best look.
Key Character Debuts
Dan, the High Talker
Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes
– “If I was flattering myself, I think I’d come up with someone a little less annoying than Noreen.” – Jerry
– “Oh, who sent you a card?” – Kramer “I don’t know.” – Jerry “Open it, it’s from Hallmark.” – Kramer
– “Giddy-up! Alright! So now, how does that work? Now, what, I get a percentage of every pledge I bring in, right?” – Kramer “No, it’s not aluminum siding, it’s volunteer work. All the money goes to the station.” – Jerry “Okay, yeah, alright, that sounds good, but I still get a tote bag though, right?” – Kramer “Yeah, and one of those foam beer can holders.” – Jerry
– “Jerry, your grandmother gave you this gift. She wants you to spend the money, to have the fun that she can’t have. Oh, this is tantamount to a slap in the face.” – Kramer “Oh, get out of here.” – Jerry “Jerry, a gift not enjoyed is like a flower that doesn’t blossom.” – Kramer
– “Oh, well, a mantel’s a whole different story.” – George “Absolutely.” Jerry “If my parents had a mantel, I might be a completely different person.” – George
– “Alright. I’ll run it by a few people.” – George “Alright, Do your thing, where you lie to everyone.” – Jerry
– “He probably doesn’t want to get chocolate on his fingers. That’s the way these society types eat their candy bars.” – George
– “A PBS fundraiser? I’m not gonna waste any of the players’ time with that, besides the team already does so much promotion for channel eleven.” – Mr. Morgan “Channel eleven? Forgive me for trying to class up this place, for trying to have the Yankees reach another strata of society that might not watch channel eleven.” – George
– “Hey, the Bull owes me one, I helped him with his swing.” – George
– “Absolutely. Pending approval of the script.” – George “Excuse me?” – Jerry “Jerry, I’m Yankee management.” – George “Yeah, I’d like to see the script too.” – Kramer “You’re just answering phones!” – Jerry “It would put me at ease.” – Kramer
– “Your grandmother’s on a very fixed income. What, are you broke?” – Uncle Leo
– “My fault? Your Nana is missing because she’s been passing those bum checks all over town and she finally pissed off the wrong people.” – Kramer
– “No one gives us the finger! We’re Yankees!” – George
– “Well, I’m not leaving the premises without tote bags. I was promised tote bags and tote bags I shall have.” – Kramer
– “I’m sorry. I mean, I know what it’s like to be in love. Ties you up in knots. And Jerry is a very sexy man.” – Kramer “What?” – Dan “Look, I’m not judging you. In fact, we here at PBS, we have many programs celebrating your lifestyle. Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Gender Bending and Swinging in San Francisco. Before Stonewall about those dark ages when you couldn’t come out of the closet, lest you be persecuted because of your, you know.” – Kramer
– “As long as you’ve got your checkbook out, how about forking a little over to PBS? You watch the station, don’t you? You don’t want to be a freeloader.” – Kramer
Oddities & Fun Facts
– Kramer subscribes to Fortune Magazine
Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)
JT: This one really surprised me. I remembered it being pretty good but I ended up laughing the whole way through. The weaving of stories and bits was masterful and it all paid off well in the end. The Nana scenes are some of my favorites of the entire series and I loved how nobody could tell her, Dan or Noreen apart. The PBS stuff was well done too as those pledge drives were such a big thing at the time. I continue to enjoy how George’s Yankee job ties into various stories and we also got the debut of Mr. Morgan. There was lots to like here with plenty of laughs and good storytelling as this was definitely a very welcomed surprise. Now, drop dead! Final Grade: 8/10
Aaron: I LIKED this one quite a bit but I didn’t love it. Kramer and Elaine carried it for me but it was a little devoid of the belly laughs of the past few episodes. The writing was tight and everything was seamlessly tied in. It was a very, very good episode. Just shy of great. Final Grade: 7/10
Andrew: This isn’t quite on the level of the more memorable, instant classics, but is still a really good episode. Well-crafted writing is always a joy to watch, and the performances were uniformly excellent. Even so, this episode is just a notch below the best. Final Grade: 8/10
Jordan: This was a really fun episode with a lot of unique stories. The high talker, the dessert cutting, cashing checks and discussion over greeting card etiquette? I’ll take it all please. I really feel like putting George with the Yankees is a genius move as it’s paid of already in just three episodes. The callback to helping Tartabull with his swing was a fun touch and the cherry on top to a terrific episode. Final Grade: 8/10
Jason: Man, what a leap we have taken from the first two episodes of this season. Every storyline worked well and blended in together. Great to see Danny Tartabull back, as well a Leo appearance and the debut of Nana. This episode falls just shy of perfect, but I highly recommend checking it out for a ton of laughs all the way through. It holds up as good as I remembered and will grade it as such. Final Grade: 9/10