Seinfeld: The Smelly Car | Episode 61 Recap Podcast


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Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur continue their journey to watch every Seinfeld episode as they discuss Season 4, Episode 21, “The Smelly Car.”

Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur had their tomato sauce baths ready as they hopped right into “The Smelly Car” on this week’s Seinfeld Post Show Recap. “The Smelly Car” first aired April 15, 1993 as part of season four.

Akiva had a unique Seinfeld news story to share this week about the statistical data of the show. Some of the data broken down in the Slate Magazine article was percentage of lines per character and how many scenes per episode do certain seasons average. Akiva had Rob guess the top eleven side characters in terms of how many lines they have on the show. Rob was able to name everyone on the list with no trouble. Akiva did not have luck on the Seinfeld Scene It trivia question, even though it was from a covered episode. With the end of his win streak, his record drops to 3-2.

Jerry’s opening standup was a bit about doggy bags at restaurants. The episode opens with Jerry and Elaine outside a restaurant waiting for the valet to bring the car around. When they get into the car, they both notice a strong and fowl odor, deciding that it’s B.O. from the valet driver, with the “O” detaching from the “B”. Akiva and Rob pondered a few other scenarios that could have brought about this smell.

After dinner, Elaine is at her boyfriend Carl’s apartment kissing on the couch, when he smells the awful smell in her hair, prompting him to end the night early. In the next scene, George and Kramer are at the video store, George returning a copy of Rochelle, Rochelle. George notices lesbians holding hands, and when they turn around, it’s his old girlfriend Susan. After the awkward conversation with Susan, George learns he would have to pay an extra two dollars for not rewinding the video, so Kramer recommends keeping it an extra day, since it would cost him less.

At Jerry’s apartment, he and Elaine are discussing how the odor in the car seems to have gotten stronger overnight. Elaine mentions how Carl said he had to get up early, to which Jerry confirmed he must have been lying, since men would always trade sleep for sex. Kramer comes in complaining about the Yankees, and soon notices that Jerry smells bad. Jerry and Elaine realize that the smell in the car has transferred to their hair and clothes.

Later on, Jerry and George are in the car on their way to complain to the restaurant about the smell. George is debating whether he actually drove Susan away from men, noting that he now finds her more attractive because of all of this. At the restaurant, Jerry forces the maître de to get in the car and smell it, which causes him to agree for the restaurant to pay for half of the cleaning bill. George realized that his video tape on the dashboard has been stolen, since they had to leave the windows open.

Elaine is back at Carl’s explaining the stench. She assures him that she’s washed several times over, but he still notices the smell in her hair. Back at the video store, George asked Susan to meet him there so he can find out if he drove her away from men. She finds the question and his follow up questions ridiculous, then she tells him he smells as she leaves. When he tells the clerk he lost the video, he’s saddled with a $98 bill. Akiva and Rob discussed how they experienced no hassle when they’ve lost Netflix DVDs.

In the next scene, Susan’s girlfriend Mona rendezvous’ with Kramer, who has won her over. Jerry is at the car dealership hearing the extensive cleaning they are about to do. At the same time, Elaine is at a hair salon hearing the long list of treatment they intend to do to rid her hair of the odor. After both Elaine’s hair and Jerry’s car are cleaned, the “beast” odor still remains. Jerry is so fed up with this, he decides he is going to sell his car for whatever he can get. They hear banging on Kramer’s door and realize that it’s Susan, there because he has stolen Mona away from her.

Kramer explains to George and Jerry how he and Mona hit it off because she is a golf instructor and helped him with his swing at the video store. Later at the diner, George is having lunch with Susan, giving her a pep talk about how great a catch she is. The woman George dated after Susan walks by, and she and Susan exchange a glance.

At the car dealership, Kramer is explaining how things were going great with Mona until she suddenly had to leave. Jerry realizes it was because Kramer was wearing Jerry’s jacket that was carrying the stench. The car salesman immediately tells Jerry he can’t sell the car after getting in and smelling it.

The last scene has Jerry abandoning the car in a seedy neighborhood, and when a vagrant gets in to steal it, he’s overwhelmed by the smell. Jerry’s closing standup is a bit about how body odor is so bad as a result of doing something good like exercising or working hard.

In 2015, a few things would be different in this episode. First, there would be no video store. Also, you could Google a solution to the smell problem, and George could have found out about Susan’s new relationship through Facebook. Akiva ranked this episode rather low in comparison to the last few episodes. He ultimately put it at 150, mainly because the ending of the episode was incomplete. He did feel he would rank it higher were he to redo the list.

There were a few emails this week. Johnny De Silveira kicked it off with a comment about how writer Peter Mehlman got the idea from the episode from a friend who went through this. He also pointed out that Jason Alexander hosted Saturday Night Live the same week this episode aired. Craig noted that the rewinding of the tape might be the most outdated thing of the episode.

Amir felt that this episode was a better rewatch than he expected, though he did feel there was some clumsiness in the writing. He also noted that George continues to prove his point that he only likes women when they don’t like him. Chester disagreed with Amir, feeling that this episode is the thing that stinks the most. He asked how a restaurant in Manhattan would have valet service, feeling that is more in line with LA, not New York City. He also asked why there weren’t more “victims” of smelly cars from all the patrons that had this valet park their car.

Tune in next week as the guys will recap “The Handicap Spot”, where we get the first appearance of Frank Costanza. Send in your questions by emailing [email protected]. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast by going to where you can rate and review the podcast. And as always, you can follow them on Twitter @robcesternino and @keev26.

Special thanks to Mike Moore for this episode recap.

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  • Craig

    I’m on #teamchester and Akiva’s side for this one. This episode is not a bad episode, but it’s definitely one of the weakest of season 4. I think the problem is The Smelly Car is just not relate-able. It also doesn’t have a big moment in it to really be memorable, like The Junior Mint, or The Implant does. I do think that 150 is a bit to low of a ranking for this episode. I think 125 is a little more accurate.

    I would also like to add that this is not the first time George Steinbrenner was mentioned on Seinfeld. He was mentioned back in The Letter, when Elaine, Kramer, and George were given tickets to the owners box because Jerry’s girlfriend father was Steinbrenner’s accountant (I think it was accountant)

    As much as I am on Akiva’s side when it comes to this episode, I have to vehemently disagree with his view on multi-cam sitcoms. As the network television defender that I am, I have to stand up for the multi-cam sitcom as well. I find that multi-cams are much better then single cams, because they are a lot better at getting jokes across, and the flow is a lot smoother. When I say this, I am not including mockumentary single camera shows, because the ability to do a talking head makes it a lot easier to tell jokes, and they don’t require long set ups. Right now, between shows like Undateable, Baby Daddy, and Mom I am watching a lot of great milti-cam shows. I really implore you Akiva to give a currently airing multi-cam sitcom a try. They are not as bad as you think if you are open to them.

    • While I don’t watch it regularly, I think that the Big Bang Theory is still a very good multi-cam comedy.

      • Matt Geoghegan

        I’m sorry but I think the Big Bang Theory is garbage

        • Craig

          I have to agree with Matt on that one. As much as I like multi-cams, I can’t stand TBBT. It’s a show that makes itself sound smarter then it is when really it is just a show with softball geeky references and not very likable characters (to me anyway).

          • Chlsea_1905

            I don’t think “garbage” stays on the air for 9 seasons. I’m sure not everyone likes it but enough people do to keep it on the air. Mom is great but I don’t know who watches it other than me. I’m always scared it’s going to get cancelled.

  • Dan

    I don’t think Jerry is that much of a bully. In the previous scene he talks about going to the restaurant and demanding they pay for it, but then after trapping the guy in the car he still settles for just half? Jerry loves talking a big game, but in the confrontational moments he always backs down.

  • tar.sentinel

    I just started watching the show for the first time ever in my entire life and I really appreciate that you guys are doing these recaps! So pumped up to go through the series and the pilot totally worked for me! I wish I could get to here as soon as possible!

    • Chlsea_1905

      that’s awesome! I’d say that from the pilot the series has a steady upward trajectory in the quality of episodes. Hopefully you can catch up to Akiva and Rob soon.

      • tar.sentinel

        I really hope so! At the end of season 2, I can already see the quality improved so much! I really like “The Jacket” 😀

        • Self response here: I MADE IT! And Season 4… is way better than anything that came before. haha!

  • Craig

    While thinking about this episode today, I think I may have figured out why Susan pursued lesbianism. Back in The Cheever Letters, it was revealed that Susan’s dad had a sexual affair with John Cheever. Maybe this revelation was what allowed Susan to pursue lesbianism, realizing that she would not be shunned or shamed by her father due to his past. So in a way, Kramer via burning down the cabin, is what turned Susan into a lesbian, so that means that Kramer vomited on her, burned her family cabin to the ground, turned her lesbian, and stole her girlfriend.

  • HBO maybe stands for human body odor. just saying.

  • Hornacek

    I like how this episode doesn’t make the valet out to be a bad guy. He has terrible B.O. but he doesn’t intentionally “infect” Jerry’s car. I have worked in offices where one person has really bad B.O. and everyone knows it but them, and everyone else tried to come up with a way of telling them without embarrassing them.

    The reason Susan is making fun of George for renting Rochelle Rochelle is because in the Seinfeld universe the film bills itself as an art film but it’s really just an excuse to see women naked. It’s like if George was renting Showgirls and tried to say that he was watching it for the story.

    I like how Susan relates to George in this episode. He says “Who do you think I’m talking to?” and she says “I know who I’m talking to.” She realizes all the crazy things about George that she probably ignored when they were dating.

    Maybe this was just a regional thing, but growing up in the 80s and 90s it was very common for video stores to charge a fee for not rewinding movies. They got tired of having to rewind movies every time someone returned unrewound.

    Carl saying he has to get up early reminded me of the earlier episode where George’s date asks him to come up for coffee and he says no because “coffee keeps me up.” After he and Jerry talk about men getting up early.

    When arguing with the maitre’d I liked when George said “Smell the valet! Go straight to the source!”

    I think Rob and Akiva are right about George normally hatching a scheme to avoid paying the $98 fee for Rochelle Rochelle, but he is so focused on Susan being a lesbian that he can’t think about anything else.

    I like when George promises to pay Susan back and she says “Yeah.” She knows she’s not getting that money back.

    George’s reaction to Susan and Allison isn’t that he should try to get a menage going. He’s thinking that he may be so bad at being a boyfriend (or sex) that every women he’s with swears off men after being with him.