In true Festivus fashion, Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur demonstrated their feats of strength by getting together to recap the next episode in the Seinfeld run, despite being smack dab in the middle of a busy Hanukkah and Christmas season. This time, they tackled “The Red Dot”, which was the 12th episode in season three, first airing December 11, 1991. Akiva pointed out that this episode was one of only a few with a holiday theme.
There was some Seinfeld in the news this week, as Jerry did some standup on Jimmy Fallon where he talked about consolidating the excess junk in his house. Akiva is a big fan of this philosophy, while Rob would like to be able to do this, but just can’t bear throwing something out he might need later. Another bit of news this week was Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee posting another episode with Kramer playing the president of Crackle, which did not keep Akiva’s interest. Also, Rob went to a local Long Island bagel shop this week while visiting family that had a real soup Nazi vibe.
Jerry’s opening standup was about the knife store in the mall, which fell a bit flat and didn’t really tie into the episode. The episode opens at a Pendant Publishing holiday party, where the real Mr. Lippman finally makes an appearance. Akiva noted that he was actually credited in the episode as Mr. Breckman. George and Jerry are there and debating how the Statue of Liberty was hauled to America. Jerry tells George not to say anything about Elaine’s new office fling, who also happens to be “off the wagon” as a recovering alcoholic. They then debate whether being sober is “on” or “off” the wagon, as George thinks it’s being “on the wagon” to be sober.
When Elaine comes up to them, she tells George that there is a job opening as a reader that she has set him up with. Soon after, Dick, Elaine’s new fling comes up and has a cantankerous conversation with Jerry. Elaine has Jerry look after her vodka cranberry drink while she takes George to Mr. Lippman, but when Jerry sets it down, Dick walks off with that instead of his nonalcoholic version. He’ll later be seen pounding more drinks, falling completely off the wagon.
Cutting to George and Elaine with Lippman, Lippman asks George who he reads, but George can only come up with a sports writer named Mike Lupica. Lippman wants to know more, so George makes up Art Vandelay, a beatnik writer from The Village. Akiva thought that George’s lies like this are some of the best running jokes throughout the series.
In the next scene, George and Jerry are browsing a department store so George can get Elaine a thank you present for getting him the job. He notices a cashmere sweater marked down to $85 from $650, and only because there is a small red dot blemishing it. He tries to convince Jerry that the dot is not noticeable, but Jerry tells him he sees a cheap man holding a sweater trying to get away with something. Rob thought this sequence didn’t hold up with the rest of the plot. Akiva agreed, adding that George is too cheap to spend $85 on a present for anyone.
Back at Jerry’s apartment, Elaine tells Jerry she thinks Dick is back off the wagon, and Jerry tells her she can be sure by seeing if she can smell it on him. Rob and Akiva debated whether you can smell alcohol on someone, determining that alcoholics go to great measures to mask the smell. When Kramer comes in, they ask him to take a drink of “Hennigans” Jerry has in his cabinet so they can see if he smells of it, which they determine they cannot. Kramer enjoys himself with the scotch, making up fake commercials about being a “no smell, no tell” drink. Rob and Akiva really enjoyed this scene, noting that it was the only part of the episode Kramer was in.
George comes in with the sweater for Elaine, which she loves. As she is putting it on, Kramer notices the red dot while lounging on the couch and immediately points it out. George plays it off like he didn’t know.
Next, George is at Pendant Publishing, working late when the cleaning lady comes by. Later in the coffee shop, George shares with Jerry that he and the cleaning lady strike up a conversation, with George breaking out the bottle of Hennigans that he took from Jerry’s, which led to them sleeping together in the office. Rob wonders if it’s a fantasy of people to sleep with a cleaning lady, and Akiva points out that George seems to have a thing for women in those job types, since he sleeps with his secretary and a housekeeper later in the series.
In the next scene back at Jerry’s apartment, Elaine is trying to blame Jerry for turning Dick into an alcoholic, which he did not do. She also tries to find out if George got a discount on the sweater, but he doesn’t spill it. George comes running in, yelling about how the cleaning lady is going to tell Mr. Lippman they had sex and get him fired. Jerry warns him that Elaine is in the bathroom and might hear, but she fortunately didn’t. When she does come out, she accuses George of purposely buying the damaged sweater. She tricks him by saying Jerry already gave him up, and when he yells at Jerry, Jerry calls him an idiot for falling for the trick.
The scene cuts to George giving the cleaning lady the red dot sweater as a way to keep her quiet. He tries to equate their situation to Clarence Thomas, a supreme court judge who was in trouble in the early 90s for inappropriate office behavior. When she sees the sweater is cashmere, she launches into a story of how she met a man wearing cashmere and dreamed of one day having one of her own. It didn’t take her long to find the red dot to ruin it all.
There is a mid episode standup from Jerry that had Dick in the audience drunk and heckling Jerry. Akiva and Rob found it an interesting take to bring the episode into the standup, but Akiva did find it a bit uneven.
Back to the episode, George is in Mr. Lippman’s office, where he is having to explain why he had sex with the cleaning lady. George asks “was that wrong”, acting as if it were normal to have done it. Lippman abruptly fires him, telling him to be out by the end of the day and throwing the cashmere sweater in his face. While packing up his desk, Elaine stops by to check in on him. George asks her if she had ever had sex in the office, but she had only kissed someone, which George says counts as sex. Jerry then shows up to take them out to dinner, and Elaine asks Jerry what his definition of sex. Jerry says he thinks it counts as sex when the nipple makes an appearance.
When they are ready to leave the office, they hear a drunk Dick stumbling through, then hide under George’s desk, but Dick sees them. They throw the cashmere sweater at him, but Dick notices the red dot right away, bringing an end to the episode. Rob and Akiva thought this was a pretty weak ending, with Akiva adding that the best Seinfeld episodes tend to have a more subtle ending. They further discussed how it’s odd that anyone can just walk into Pendant Publishing with little to no security to check in with.
In the final piece of Jerry’s standup, he is doing a bit about alcoholics, and once again Dick is in the audience interjecting that you say “on the wagon” not “off the wagon”. Jerry says “don’t get smart with me” to Dick, and the episode ends. Akiva shared that a Seinfeld executive pushed to have the episode end with Dick getting sober again. Rob is convinced that an executive probably did the same thing with last episode, having Owen recovered from the stroke.
In the “what would be different in 2014” segment, they concluded that Pendant Publishing’s building would have much better security, the markdown on the cashmere sweater would be far less, and that no one would consider kissing as sex.
Akiva thought less of the episode than Rob did as far as his rankings list went. Akiva ranked it at 120, just behind “The Phone Message”, which Rob felt was too low. He thought the only clunky part of the episode was the storyline with Dick.
There were a couple emails to go through this week. Johnny De Silveira wondered why the red dot was not shown to the audience. Akiva thought it was funnier to leave it to the viewer’s imagination. Johnny also noted that this is the second episode in a row where the subject matter of alcohol was more serious than usual. Rob and Akiva both felt they were flippant about alcoholism merely because it wasn’t as serious a topic culturally as it is today.
Chester emailed to ask why the conversation between Dick and Jerry escalated negative so quickly, wondering if Dick is an a-hole even when not drinking. The guys both agreed he was just a bad guy either way. He also wondered if there was any background to the episode being integrated into Jerry’s standup. Akiva felt it wasn’t, considering it didn’t go over very well. Lastly, Chester wondered why the cleaning lady was so ungrateful for the cashmere sweater if she’d been dreaming about one her whole life. He added that perhaps she was actually disappointed in George’s performance romantically. They felt Chester might be on to something about the sexual performance, since neither of them would turn down a cashmere sweater with a small red dot on it.
Akiva decided to share his top ten TV shows for 2014 for the last Seinfeld podcast of the year, while also vowing to catch up on some movies as he’d been promising to do. His list from ten to one was Parks and Recreation, Veep, Broad City, True Detective, Nathan For You, Fargo, Louie, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and number one was Review. Akiva was so bent on keeping Review from being cancelled, he offered the listeners of the podcast $1.29 if they gave all eight episodes a try and didn’t like it.
Before calling it a day, Rob challenged the listeners to point out where in the recording of this episode did they have to stop recording so Akiva could help his family capture a snake that was loose in his house. If you figure it out, post it on the episode page in the comment section on postshowrecaps.com.