Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Voice” (S9, E2)

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 thought this was a strong episode for everyone but Jerry stood out the most for me. His delivery was sharp throughout and I loved his desperation for his friends to want the voice back over Clare. He kept this episode chugging along across all the storylines, playing a key role in each this time around. Shout out to Darren, too, he was awesome.

Aaron: George’s sheer will and determination pace him ahead of the pack here. In a subtle little acting moment he channels his inner Jerry Stiller by screaming “Thomassoulo picked the wrong guy who was pretending to be handicapped!!!” He crawled through the vents and into our hearts.

Andrew: It’s a bit of a toss-up, I think, but I’m going with Kramer. He had my favorite line of the episode (“Now let’s push this giant ball of oil out the window”), the exchange with the Dean of internships is classic, he’s got the usual great throwaways (“I was supposed to pick up Newman twelve hours ago!”).

Jordan: Oof, tough call. I think sometimes I prefer the clunker episodes where nobody delivers because I can just find one line and latch onto it as the best. But here, all four main characters deliver, plus we have Darren and Puddy. I think Jerry really did a great job with the struggle over the voice or the girl… but I gotta pick George as long as he’s a Play Now employee. One of my favorite George runs ever. HE’S IN HIS OFFICE!

Jason: Everyone showed up ready to play here but I’m going with my boy Darren. The second he showed up taking the tour of Jerry’s apartment he was unstoppable. The dedication he showed towards Kramerica was fun to watch unfold. Hopefully Kramer visits him in the clink.

Best Storyline

JT: While the Voice gave us the iconic catchphrase, the best storyline was Kramerica Industries. From the moment Kramer got mad about the car dealership stealing his financing idea, it was game on. Darren was tremendous and I loved how they turned Kramer’s every day nonsense into a corporate setting. Kramer’s scene with the Dean was great too and of course the speech at the window followed by the oil ball toss was beautiful.

Aaron: The war between Thomassoulo and Costanza. He HATES George. Hates him and yet is pleading on bended knee to give George six months’ salary. It’s great to see George on top of something for once. It can, after all, only lead to a much greater fall for our short, bald friend.

Andrew: It’s the backslide for me. Elaine being unable to stop going back to David Puddy, even with money and her pride on the line, is just about the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The “You know who likes funny stories? David Puddy” moment is a classic, and Elaine spitefully declaring them “back together” because Puddy is enjoying the no-strings arrangement too much is fantastic. My underrated favorite is Elaine leaving a movie for “popcorn” and ending up with Puddy. May we all know a love like that.

Jordan: Another really, really hard choice. The Voice is very funny, and I like that Jerry ultimately chooses the voice, then everyone gets sick of it immediately. Plus we have Elaine and Puddy being back together, much to the delight of Jerry’s wallet, and Kramerica working to get that chicken with Darren’s help! But again… it’s George. It will always be George and Play Now. The threat to make his bathroom public was some real hard ball work.

Jason: The Voice is one of the the most iconic plots from the series but the one-two of Kramer and Darren running Kramerica Industries wins by a hair. Darren treating Kramer’s nonsense life like real corporate internship was amazing to watch unfold.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: If you are dating a really hot woman but also love doing a funny voice at her expense should you tell her about the voice for literally no reason? Stop giggling like a dipshit, Jerome. Keep them separated and eat that cake and have it too!

Aaron: How in the Hell does Thomassoulo not know who the Incredible Hulk is? My two year old knows who the Hulk is. Perhaps had Thomassoulo crawled out from the rock he’d been living under he could channel our green friend, grow some green balls and get George out of his office.

Andrew: So George lets Kramer into his office to drop a big ball of oil on a woman, and the only ones who suffer any consequences are the intern and Play Now? Getting away scot-free may be the most evil thing these people have ever done.

Jordan: If you drop a giant ball of oil on someone, should you flee or check on their safety? I understand Kramer didn’t want to risk getting in trouble, but the woman could have died!

Jason: Do you tell your smoking hot girlfriend about a silly voice that you and your friends do about her?  What the fuck, Jerome?! That was such a George thing to let slip.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Elaine & Puddy forever. And ever. And ever. And ever. That is pretty funny. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Aaron: Jerry should fuck the shit out of that voice and be done with it. Relationship Grade:10/10

Andrew: I can’t blame Jerry for choosing The Voice over Clare. What’s the point of being with someone who doesn’t enjoy your nonsense? Elaine and Puddy, on the other hand, remain my model for adult relationships. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Jordan: Jerry was right to choose the Voice over Clare. Anyone named Clare, or Claire, is not worth the effort. I hope my friend Claire is reading this and feeling awful about herself. I’m a terrible person. Relationship Grade: I’m sorry Claire, you’re actually wonderful/10

Jason: Zack & Kelly, Dylan & Brenda, Randy & Liz, Puddy & Elaine. Puddy & Laney are everything and will remain the hottest TV couple until the end of time. Relationship Grade: 2.9% Financing/10

What Worked:

JT: George still trying to explain away his handicap as legit is great; The first “Hellooooo” is still tremendous; the Coke machine breakup comparison is a good one; Jerry and Kramer’s conversation about the menial tasks is a good one; “Heroin Chic”; Jerry’s Cinemax dig is great; Darren the Mother Fucking Intern; KRAMERICA; I love the lunch scheduling fiasco and when Kramer goes to yell at Darren; Darren reading his notes on what Kramer missed; Puddy laughing at the gloves story after banging Elaine; Kramer’s meeting with the Dean is amazing, she has tremendous delivery; Jerry at the beach contemplating his decision is a great callback; Jerry using the voice in Spanish; Kramer in the jeans is a sight to behold; Jerry’s desperation for anyone to love the voice again is well executed; Kramer’s speech at the window; Poor Darren going to jail is a nice payoff to all of the mayhem, as is Clare suing Play Now and costing George his pay

Aaron: I love that Jerry goes all the way to Clare’s house just to do that voice to her face. Possibly the most petty thing he has ever done. The callback to the thoughtful pier was also nice. Two little moments break down the show so succinctly. The first is when Darren reads the minutes of the coffee shop “meeting”. Of course they were arguing about if Iron Man wore underwear, of course George washed his body with Jerry’s ice. Their world has never felt more perfectly summed up. Puddy also perfectly sums up his relationship with Elaine while celebrating the lack thereof of a relationship with her. He’s chuckling with glee that he’ll never have to hear how much smarter she is than all her co-workers. Everything with George and Tommasulo is gold. “Tell him I’M IN MY OFFICE!!!!” Is such a perfect line. Puddy’s post-sex face is the best in the Biz.

Andrew: “The Voice” itself is really fun, and a lot of this episode’s appeal is that it’s fun for the audience to do as well. Jerry letting Clare know he has chosen the voice over her by letting out a big “Hello” right in her face is an underrated heel moment. George spitefully forcing Play Now to honor his contract is a great storyline for the character, although it will always annoy me that he doesn’t appreciate what a great deal a six-month severance payment is. Kramer’s intern is pretty good, and his enthusiasm for Kramerica really adds to the episode.

Jordan: I like the very idea that friends come up with an idea that someone’s belly button speaks in a cartoony voice. It’s stuff you never really see on TV, but are absolutely conversations and in-jokes you have in real life with people. Jerry’s struggle between Clare and The Voice was well done, and I always like the scene with him mulling things over on the boardwalk. Him going to her house just to speak in The Voice TO HER FACE is cold blooded great stuff! Kramer getting an intern is a fun idea that could have sucked, but was just phenomenal. Darren does a good job and I like him reading the notes and exposing George as an ice cube grabbing weirdo. Puddy and Elaine belong together. Every other time Elaine is with someone, I seethe with rage and jealousy, but when I see David wheezing after a sexy romp with Elaine, I can’t help but hope they are together forever. I’ve already covered how great the George stuff is.

Jason: The cold open being the fall-out from last week; George name dropping the Spiderman Live Action Show; the initial Hello at Monk’s always makes me laugh big time; Jerry’s Coke machine line; Kramer’s Hello voice is by far my favorite; Jerry shitting on Kramer about his ideas; HOOCHY MOOCHY; Kramer giving Darren a tour of Jerry’s apartment; Darren being “new here”; fantasy world corporate experience; George’s Hitler’s last day line; Kramer bitching ar Darren because he didn’t know Elaine was tagging along for lunch; Kramer having a meeting with Lomez is so random, but worked well; George washing up with the ice from Jerry’s water; Darren bursting in during Jerry and Clare’s argument; Pudding crapping on relationship Elaine; Dean Jones reading off Darren’s experience at Kramerica; high tea with a Mr. Newman; the Hello montage – MY GOODNESS – that’s peak Seinfeld right there; Jerry’s bilingual voice; Kramer’s Canadian tuxedo from Jerry’s closet; George cracking pistachios on Thomassoulo’s desk; Puddy’s breathing after banging Elaine; Jerry’s cigar laugh; the six hour tape for the experiment; the arrest and most of the trial; George’s swank bathroom lay out; the oil ball landing on Clare was the perfect payoff

What Didn’t Work

JT: Why would Elaine roll the dice and show up at Jerry’s before changing?; What hours does the NYU dean keep? Or were Jerry and Clare in bed super early?; Why does George wear his glasses so low on his nose? I just want to push them up; I like the outcomes of the stories but that last scene makes no sense, these guys see each other every day are now just catching up on Play Now going under and Darren going to the clink?

Aaron: The voice was annoying and Jerry was dumb to choose it over a woman willing to put up with his wastefulness as it relates to belts.

Andrew: I happened to see on Wikipedia that “The Voice” was originally conceived as coming from the young lady’s butt, and now I can’t stop thinking about how much funnier that is. Also, when Jerry is miming a belly button talking, he puts it on his sternum, which annoys me to a surprising degree.

Jordan: So, while it was funny… it’s pretty stupid that Jerry picks the voice, right? Especially since he is a comedian, it’s literally his lifes work to understand when jokes need to be shelved, yet he was the last one to realize it was a dying bit.

Jason: Come on, Elaine! You know better than to show up at Jerry’s in the same clothes as the previous day. Speaking of Elaine, her Voice was pretty bad. Ketchup and mustard in the same bottle? No thanks!

Key Character Debuts

– The Voice

– Clare

– Darren

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “George, you’re not really handicapped, are you?” – Thomassoulo “I’ve had my difficulties.” – George “I saw you running down Amsterdam Avenue lifting that 200 pound motorized cart with one hand.” – Thomassoulo “Mr. Thomassoulo during times of great stress, people are capable of super human strength. Have you ever seen the Incredible Hulk, sir?” – George “No.” – Thomassoulo “How about the old Spider Man live action show?” – George

– “Hello-o-o-o!” – George & Jerry

– “My Puddy? But we broke up.” – Elaine “And yet he continues to live.” – Jerry

– “Elaine, breaking up is like knocking over a coke machine. You can’t do it in one push, you got to rock it back and forth a few times, and then it goes over.” – Jerry “That’s beautiful.” – George

– “I went to the movies last night, I went to the bathroom and I unbuckled a little wobbly and the buckle kind of banged against the side of the urinal. So…that’s it!” – Jerry “So, you’re insane?” – Clare “Oh yes, quite.” – Jerry “Hello!” – Kramer “Of course it’s a sliding scale.” – Jerry

– “Of course it’s a good idea, it’s my idea. I conceived this whole project two years ago.” – Kramer “Which part? The renovating the restaurant you don’t own part or spending the two hundred million you don’t have part?” – Jerry “You see I come up with these things, I know they’re gold, but nothing happens. You know why?” – Kramer “No resources, no skill, no talent, no ability, no brains.” – Jerry “No, no…time! It’s all this meaningless time. Laundry, grocery, shopping, coming in here talking to you. Do you have any idea how much time I waste in this apartment?” – Kramer “I can ball park it.” – Jerry

– “Then what do you call it? People don’t just bump into each other and have sex. This isn’t Cinemax.” – Jerry

– “Well, apparently NYU is very enthusiastic about their students getting some real world corporate experience.” – Kramer “But you only provide fantasy world corporate experience.” – Jerry

– “I am not calling Puddy. What did I do with my gloves? Oh, I bet I left them over at Puddy’s. I should call him. I need those gloves. No, I better not. I’ll call. (looks at table) Oh, look at that! There are the gloves. I was just about to call. There they are. That’s funny. That’s really funny. That’s really really funny. You know who loves funny stories, David Puddy.” – Elaine

– “No body said you’re fat. He’s a loving character, like the Kool-Aid guy.” – Jerry “He is fat!” – Clare “No, he’s just a little bloated.” – Jerry “Good-bye!” – Clare “It’s mostly water weight.” – Jerry

– “As far as I can tell your entire enterprise is more than a solitary man with a messy apartment which may or may not contain a chicken.” – Dean “And with Darren’s help, we’ll get that chicken.” – Kramer

– “I don’t care about the internship. I care about Kramerica.” – Darren “Kramerica is no more.” – Kramer “What about the oil tanker bladder system? We were going to put an end to maritime oil spills.” – Darren “Probably. Darren, you go home. Forget about Kramerica.” – Kramer

– “Whew. You know Darren, if you would have told me twenty-five years ago that some day I’d be standing here about to solve the worlds energy problems, I would’ve said you’re crazy… Now let’s push this giant ball of oil out the window.” – Kramer

Oddities & Fun Facts

– “The Voice” enters pop culture immediately

– Jerry pondering his decision at the beach is a callback to The Engagement (S7, E1) and The Invitations (S7, E24)

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This is another one of my all time favorite episodes. It is loaded with classic lines and memorable moments and featured strong performances across the board. George hunkering down in his bunker office taking a stand on a grossly unethical platform was great. I loved the Kramerica stuff and of course the Voice is iconic. Elaine and Puddy weren’t given a lot of time but they made their story pop well enough too with their limited scenes. I thought this was a tightly written episode too, with everything seamlessly flowing into each other, bringing it all to a head in the climactic scene at Play Now. I was so happy to see that this one held up after all these years and that confirmed it as a no doubt perfect episode for me. It can be Spanish! Final Grade: 10/10

Aaron: Solid fun outline with a few memorable moments but a little lacking on the belly laughs. I do enjoy the continuity that is building in season nine and the characters are all hitting strong strides going into the homestretch. Final Grade: 7/10

Andrew: This episode felt disappointing to start out. This may end up being a recurring theme over the last season, but the episode didn’t feel like it was living up to my memory of it. The writing here isn’t up to the level of the classics, but once the “ball of oil” stuff got rolling, any sense of disappointment was gone. That and the Elaine/Puddy montage make this episode a winner in my book. Final Grade: 9/10

Jordan: I like this a lot, and I am often gunshy to go 10/10 just so I don’t seem like an easy critic. So I sit there and try to figure out what I can deduct points for… but honestly, what doesn’t work? What scene should have been left out? What storyline wasn’t fantastic? What mundane piece of dialogue wasn’t realistic? Just a great episode of TV. Final Grade: 10/10

Jason: I’ve been itching to get to this episode. Oh boy, did it ever hold up. Darren was a beast and made Kramerica the well oiled (pun intended) machine that it was. Clare was smoking hot and ranks in the top tier of Jerry’s ladies. Minus some minor nitpicking, this is arguably a top ten or fifteen episode. RIP Kramerica Industries. Final Grade: 10/10