Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Sniffing Accountant” (S5, E4)

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: George takes this one for me. Jerry, Kramer and Newman were very enjoyable in their sting, but George’s scenes with his parents and the job interview sealed the deal. Plus, once again, he blows a good gig by getting too overconfident too quickly.

Aaron: Honestly there wasn’t any major standout performances for me in this one. Basically it boiled down to Kramer’s scene in the bar versus Frank Costanza telling his son he should get into selling brassieres. Frank came back and screamed “May I have this dance!” so he squeaks this one out. It’s amazing how quickly he can go from raging about how long it takes to find a bra to kindly old man who was wrong about said bra’s material.

Andrew: No one really ran away with this one, but I enjoyed Jerry the most. For all the complaining we’ve done about his acting, it’s only fair to point out that he can be a fantastic straight man. Watching him get progressively more fed up with Kramer’s and Newman’s nonsense adds so much to the stakeout scene, and makes it even more entertaining when he gets drawn into it during the letter-writing scene. When he sticks to his strengths, Jerry is pretty great.

Jordan: Going with Kramer on the strength of the bar scene. His physical comedy is so incredible. I loved him chugging the beer while a cigarette dangles from his mouth, then he puts it in his mouth backwards. Frank Costanza gets the silver medal again here, but Kramer’s bar scene is a legendary performance.

Jason: Got to go with George. the lying, the bullshitting, the interacting with his parents. All well represented here.

Best Storyline

JT: I will go with the sting. I liked the way it tied everything together at the end, with the sweater and the exclamation points. The scene in the car was great and I love Kramer in the bar too. It was also a great use of Newman, who has been too sporadic lately.

Aaron: While I didn’t love the idea of the sniffing accountant itself it’s hard to not be on board with Kramer, Jerry and Newman doing a stakeout together. The ensuing bar scene is tremendous and easily trumps the weirdness that is seeing Jerry and Newman working together. 

Andrew: It’s a close call, but I like George’s bra salesman storyline. His speech about the first time he saw a brassiere would be enough on its own, but throw in more greatness from the Costanzas and this one is hard to beat. The Christa Miller cameo is just icing on the cake. (On a related note, why isn’t The Drew Carey Show ever on TV?)

Jordan: The stakeout. It gave us Kramer in the bar and some Jerry/Newman interaction. I liked Kramer bursting into the bathroom stall and taking a Polaroid, too. Newman with the floss is disgusting. And the subsequent letter filled with exclamation points was a nice capper.

Jason: Tough call here. George possibly becoming a bra salesman and the use of exclamation points is great, but I really enjoyed the sting. He’s sniffing, asks where the bathroom is and travels to South America. “What kind of snow blower did you get us mixed up with?”

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Whether there is a job on the line or not, do you really want to fondle your mother’s bra at the dinner table? I would refuse and tell your parents that you will head to the mall to do research instead. Frank really crossed the line on this one.

Aaron: What has happened to the old ways of courtship? Today grabbing someone’s clothing is reserved compared to the grinding and sexual intercourse seen in clubs throughout the country. What happened to us as a society that it’s now just instant sex? Why didn’t this happen several decades ago when I was wasn’t married to the beautiful mother of my children? It’s just not fair, and not right that those of us who had to politely ask, “May I have this dance?” are forced to sit on the sidelines in our sexual primes and see sex handed out like oranges at the end of a soccer game.

Andrew: Is it ever appropriate to complain about someone not using an exclamation point? Jake obviously bears some responsibility for the fight, as he shouldn’t have pushed things, but I think Elaine was way off base. If anything, we should applaud him for resisting the overuse of exclamation points.

Jordan: Who gets mushrooms on a pizza you are splitting with someone? Especially if that person doesn’t like mushrooms? Pepperoni is a topping that you don’t need to approve, but mushroom falls in the “ask first” column of toppings along with ham, pineapple and bacon. Jerry shouldn’t have shocked Kramer with fungus on the pizza.

Jason: If someone uses dental floss/tape in my car then places it on the dashboard, I’m gonna raise hell. That’s just gross. Also, do all seven days have a feel to them? I think so. It does throw things off when a major holiday falls in the middle of the week.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Kramer and Tuesdays. To him, they have a feel. So much so that he mistakes Thursday for it. That is love, true love. And it is so Kramer to pick the most useless day of the week to be most fond of. Tuesdays are worthless. There are no positives about Tuesdays at all. You are past any potential long weekends and still quite far from Friday. Wednesdays at least have you looking at the end of the work week and Wednesday nights can be fun, especially if you have a long weekend ahead of you. But Tuesday? See you in hell pal! Relationship Grade: 1/10

Aaron: Jake seemed like a nice guy, too bad Elaine was a grammar Nazi before it was cool. Relationship Grade: SS/10

Andrew: Jake and Elaine’s tumultuous relationship doesn’t do much for me, but I did enjoy the “feeling the fabric” sub-plot. Elaine retelling the story was great, and I enjoyed the way it backfired on George. It’s almost as though dating success is more about spontaneous chemistry than rehearsed moves. Who knew? Relationship Grade: Life Lessons/10

Jordan: Elaine was awful here!!!!! Jake was a good guy, and she ends it because he doesn’t put an exclamation point on a note? Ridiculous!!!!!!!!!! She may have stabbed him if he used there instead of their or they’re!!!!!!!!!!! Way to go Elaine! Relationship Grade: !!!!!/10

Jason: Meal time with the Costanzas gives you a great feel how these people can’t stand each other. Frank questioning why George is using so much ketchup always makes me chuckle. How wonderfully uncomfortable is it when Frank starts talking about bra sizes at the dinner table? I love anytime we get Jerry and Newman alone. It’s so unpredictable. Elaine and Jake really seem to like one another. A nice gesture for Jake to clean her apartment while she’s out. But I agree with Jerry, I’ve never heard a relationship being affected by a punctuation. Relationship Grade: DENTAL FLOSS/10

What Worked:

JT: Elaine’s digs at George about living with his mom was cold as ice; The Costanzas, all of them; The bra testing and lesson scene is so good; I enjoyed Jerry and Kramer discussing the potential habits of Barry, followed by all of the hints adding up, like the South America trip; The exclamation point stuff was well done by Elaine and Jake; I find it funny that Newman’s money was included in this CD as well, what an odd thing for these three men to join up and take part in; I have always loved the scene in the car, especially the “feel of the days” discussion; Kramer’s sting in the bar is a classic scene; Newman putting the used floss on Jerry’s dashboard is great; George’s job interview was a thing of beauty, only unravelled by his inane overconfidence yet again; Lippman’s reading of the exclamation point capped sentences was well executed; Tying everything together with the sweater allergy was great; Ralph is fucking pimp, what a stud

Aaron: I love George and Elaine sniping at each other but both being right about the other’s failings. Obviously the Costanzas are always a treat and the banality of their attacks at George truly capture the pettiness of the elderly. Who cares how much ketchup he uses? There was also something great about how Frank lowered his voice to George to explain to him the ins and outs of cup sizes. Like he had information he’d been keeping from his wife for years. The sting was great and Elaine picking out the most absurd flaw in the history of mankind is precisely the behavior we love about the character. George’s description of his lifelong bra obsession to Farkus was great. Farkus is also a fantastic name for a man so emasculated.

Andrew: I didn’t pick it for best storyline, but there is a lot to like about the main plot. I enjoy Barry’s coked-out Wall Street routine, and Jerry and Newman have some really good scenes together. Kramer’s undercover character is hilarious, and I can’t say enough about his lit cigarette prop work. Frank’s description of bra sizes is a classic, and George’s discomfort during the whole scene is perfect.

Jordan: I think they could do an entire episode of just the Costanza family at the dinner table and I may rank it in the Top 5 of all time. I enjoy it whenever someone gets sucked into Kramer’s craziness, but even moreso when it’s Jerry. Discussing the “evidence” that Barry was a coke addict was fun. The bar scene that I’ve already covered was the best part of the episode, but the car scenes were good too. Newman laying the floss on the dashboard is so gross. All the bra talk is good stuff, and Frank insisting that George take a look at his mom’s bra at the table is incredible. George’s interview is a good scene too, even if I think the woman freaking out is a bit much.

Jason: The exclamation point stuff with Elaine and Jake has Larry David written all over it. So well done. Kramer sitting at he bar is so enjoyable..Him chugging the beer with a cigarette in his mouth is hilarious. When they find out Ralph the pizza guy is allergic to mohair is perfect timing. Also, Ralph has my vote for most 90s look. The flat top with the fanny pack is tremendous. Sid Farkus is a fun name to say. George explaining how he became so intrigued by bras is a top tier George moment.

What Didn’t Work

JT: The sweater that the episode pivots around is really grotesque; This episode feels a bit dated with a coke addict accountant that mismanages money; Is the bar in the sting supposed to be the comedy club or was it just a lazy set recycling; Barry’s hair is brutally awful

Aaron: I didn’t love the story of the drug addled accountant. Sure we got to see the ugliest sweater known to man, but it just didn’t click for me. I’m also not a fan of legitimately wronged Jerry, I prefer when he’s in the right but social norms dictate he should let it go. The whole pacing and feel of this one felt a bit disjointed for me, almost like the three separate stories weren’t quite intertwined enough. They’re usually so good and finding either a common thread or weaving them in and out of each other so I felt like the writing was missing its usual panache.

Andrew: I try to take the studio audience in context (it’s not like it sounded out of place at the time), but it got to me a bit in this episode. When they’re getting overzealous about some scene I’m not enjoying, it really sucks.

Jordan: OK, I hated Elaine this episode. I think she was ridiculous to Jake, wouldn’t let the issue drop and looked like a chump when Mr. Lippman called her out. I just feel this episode was very out of character for her, and getting furious over the exclamation points was a stretch. Also, the sweater is the worst wardrobe item we’ve ever seen on the show, and that’s saying a LOT.

Jason: George being pissed that he can’t go buy new sneakers because Frank got him the interview bothers me. He despises living with his parents, so why not just take the interview, get the job and move out of 1344 Queens Blvd? Not a fan of the feeling the material stuff, but I guess it kind of works here because it ends up costing George the job. It’s a real creepy thing to do

Key Character Debuts

Jake Jarmel

Sid Farkus

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “I was wearing my sling back pumps.” – Elaine “What are those?” – George “Ask your mother, you live with her now, don’t you? Anyway, so then this guy comes up to me and starts feeling my jacket through his thumb and his forefinger.” – Elaine

– “Next Friday, what time?” – George “2 o’clock.” – Frank “That’s my whole afternoon! I was going to look for sneakers.” – George “You can look for sneakers the next day!” – Frank

– “How long it takes to find a bra? What’s going on in there? You ask me to get a pair of underwear, I’m back in two seconds…you know about the cup sizes and all? They have different cups.” – Frank ” I-I know about the cups.” – George “You got the A, B, C the D. That’s the biggest.” – Frank “I know the D is the biggest. I’ve based my whole life on knowing that the D is the biggest.” – George

– “Do you think that’s a bad sign?” – Jerry “Yes!! Yes, that’s what they do! They live in the bathroom! All right, what are we going to do? We are going to get our money back, right?” – Kramer

– “Hey, I just chalked down the message. I didn’t know I was required to capture the mood of each caller.” – Jake

– “It’s an exclamation point! It’s a line with a dot under it.” – Jerry “Well, I felt a call for one.” – Elaine “A call for one, you know I thought I’ve heard everything. I’ve never heard a relationship being affected by a punctuation.” – Jerry “I found it very troubling that he didn’t use one.” – Elaine “George was right. Didn’t take you long.” – Jerry

– “Who goes to South America?” – Jerry “People go to South America.” – Elaine “Yeah, and they come back with things taped to their large intestine.” – Jerry

– “South America?! What kind of snow blower did you get us mixed up with?” – Newman

– “What’s today? ” – Kramer “It’s Thursday.” – Newman “Really? Feels like Tuesday.” – Kramer “Tuesday has no feel. Monday has a feel, Friday has a feel, Sunday has a feel…” – Newman “I feel Tuesday and Wednesday…” – Kramer “All right, shut up the both of you! You’re making me nervous.” – Jerry

– “No, you stay here in the car. I may need you.” – Jerry “What you need me in the car for?” – Newman “I might need you to get me a soda.” – Jerry

– “You’re an idiot.” – Jerry “Why, because I use dental tape?” – Newman “Right, anyone who uses dental tape is an idiot.” – Jerry

– “Well, I was 14 years old. I was in my friends bathroom. His mother’s brassieres were hanging on the shower rod. I picked it up, studied it. I thought, I like this. I didn’t know what way or what level, but I knew: I wanted to be around brassieres.” – George “That’s incredible story. You have a remarkable passion for brassieres.” – Farkus “They are more than an underwear to me Mr.Farkus. Two cups in the front, two loops in the back. How do they do it? – George

– “What ever happened to “Why, that’s a lovely dress you have on. May I have this dance?”!!” – Frank

– “Half silk, half cotton, half linen. How can you go wrong?” – Jerry

Oddities & Fun Facts

– The woman mailing a letter that flips out on Newman also played George’s co-worker Glenda in The Revenge (S2, E12)

– Ellen, Sid Farkus’s boss is portrayed by Christa Miller

– George is reading a Glamour magazine at his parents’ house, a callback to The Contest

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This is one of those episodes that is hurt more by the extremely high quality of Seinfeld than anything else. There was a lot here to like and the writing was pretty tight throughout. The bra stuff was really funny and the Costanzas killed it as always. The sting was fun and Kramer’s performance in the bar is a classic scene. But, something was still missing that stopped it from really clicking and hitting that next gear. Plus, it follows the three super strong episodes to open the season, and on that curve it is clearly a step back. That said, there was some high level stuff blended in and any time we get a healthy dose of the Costanzas and Newman, it has to count for something. Final Grade: 6/10

Aaron: This was just there for me. There’s the classic bar scene with Kramer and great stuff from George and his family but the rest falls flat compared to the great episodes it’s surrounded by.  Final Grade: 6/10

Andrew: I may be overusing this description, but this was a “less than the sum of its parts” episode for me. There were a lot of individual parts I really enjoy, but the overall product was underwhelming. Maybe it’s that the stories were too disconnected, or that a few weak scenes dragged the rest down; or maybe it’s just that the previous episode was tough to live up to. Regardless, I was hoping for more. Here’s to feeling good all the time. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: This was an episode that had a couple really good moments, but not a lot else. I really enjoyed the dinner scene with George and Frank, but we’ll see that again and again. Kramer at the bar definitely lifts it up a point or two, but Elaine being unlikable and just a general miss overall makes this one kind of “meh” for me. It’s still funny because it’s Season 5 of Seinfeld, but it’s a big step down from everything else this season so far. Final Grade: 5/10

Jason: I have mixed feeling about this episode. You can’t go wrong with bickering Costanzas, the exclamation point stuff and wondering if Barry is a junkie. A lot going on, but a few creepy moments. Between Kramer taking a picture of Barry while he’s in the john and the material feeling stuff, that’s some points lost from me. A step down from the monster start to this season. Final Grade: 7/10