Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Handicap Spot” (S4, E20)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, Justin Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan and Jordan Duncan 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

Justin:  I am going with the George and Kramer duo here. George was at his best throughout, fretting over all the money he has to spend on meaningless gifts and Kramer spewing wisdom and channeling his inner svengali was tremendous as well. I loved them together at the wheelchair store and the more screen time they get together in these episodes, the better and better their chemistry and timing gets. I have to give shoutouts to Frank Costanza, an immediate force of nature, and the salesman, who was great with his quick delivery and pitches.

Aaron: He’s the recipient of the Silver Circle award and now the winner of the best character of the episode. I’m gonna be straight up honest with you here. It’s always going to be Frank Costanza. Every time. His mix of cruelty and rage is unparalleled in the goddamn universe. He’s even funny when he’s not on. I started cracking up when I saw the car totaled because I knew who George had to explain this to. Just when I’m starting to feel bad about giving him this one despite his scant screen time, he spells out the word DEEEEE-LIV-ERRR while screaming at his son. The man makes me happy to be alive.

Andrew: It’s close, but I’m giving this one to Kramer. He’s just so good at the little things, consistently turning secondary material into gold. I laughed out loud watching him drive the wheelchair into everything in the store, and the “George, am I beautiful?” scene always gets me. I also admire the fact that he has no reservations about dating a woman who uses a wheelchair. He is a “God blessing” to us all.

Jordan: There are things in life that I am certain of, that are unshakable. One of those things was that whenever we finally got to Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, he would immediately take Best Character. And yet…it’s Kramer. My faith is shattered. I no longer know what to believe. Up is down, down is up. Black is white, white is black – so at least the black and white cookie remains. My head is spinning. I don’t know whether to cry, puke or punch something. This world has undone me, and I am forever broken. Kramer was funny, by the way.

Best Storyline

Justin: The whole handicap spot fiasco was great. I love that their shit luck led to the injury, I love George’s rant on the lazy handicapped woman in the bakery, I love the plotting, Kramer’s brief love affair, all of it. It all crests with Frank getting arrested and forcing George to be his butler.

Aaron: I found this one to be a little all over the place so it’s hard to pin down a great storyline. So I guess we’ll go with Kramer trying to date the handicapped woman. He experiences the highest of highs and the lowest of lows seemingly within about a quarter of an hour. What a doofus.

Andrew: This category is close as well, but I like the engagement gift as best storyline. I always enjoy a plot in which the main characters are totally in the wrong, but we still want to take their side. In this case, I can’t see etiquette requiring the return of gifts after an engagement is broken off, and since they were donated to charity, I have no ethical objection. And yet, I totally understand the Seinfeld crew’s frustration, and frankly, I can’t blame them for stealing back the TV in the end. Sometimes, you just have to rob a woman with a disability to get some peace of mind.

Jordan: It’s the handicap stuff, specifically Kramer’s involvement. He’s the one that suggested they park in the spot, he’s the one that fell in love with the handicapped woman, he’s the one that insisted George help him buy a wheelchair. I love him riding into things while testing out the automatic model in the store.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should you park in a handicap spot if you are not handicapped? Probably not. I am surprised the crew missed the potentially easy way out by just coming to the car and having one of them pretending to be handicapped and just acting like they forgot their tag. I said too much…

Aaron: I totally understand George’s rationale about not asking his father for the car once he has “his spot.” All my father does is talk about the parking situation near his house. His landlord (who lives downstairs of a duplex) has two driveway spaces, neither which my father has access to. The landlord refuses to park in his own driveway and instead parks his three cars out on the street taking up three spaces. This is only magnified in the winter when said landlord cleans out his entire back yard of snow and piles it in the street, taking up at least another two spaces. I’m not sure why he needs his entire patio cleared when it’s minus forty outside, but he does…and so does everyone else on the street. So I get George’s apprehension. I’ve dealt with that kind of crazy. Perhaps that’s why Frank has lost his mind. Years of parking frustration may have driven him to madness. Is my dad going to be all right?

Andrew: Is mob justice an acceptable reaction here? I still have questions about how Lola parking in the handicapped spot would have prevented her from rolling down the ramp; is the idea that her battery wouldn’t have died as quickly if she did? Shouldn’t we be angrier with the people who built the wheelchair, or the ramp? That said, I can get on board with assuming that the kind of person who wrongfully takes a handicapped spot has probably done something to deserve getting their car trashed.

Jordan: Why was it on George and Kramer to buy Lola a new wheelchair? I know that they parked in the spot, but if her batteries died, it seems like she has an insurance claim that she could make. If her insurance rejected it, they are the real monsters here.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Kramer and Lola seemed meant to be. He was ready to put a ring on it. What happened? Why did it go so sour so quickly? Must be her rich family driving the wedge in between them. Kramer did nothing but shower love and wheelchairs on her and she paid him back with scorn. Relationship Grade: Rollin’/10

Aaron: Lola should never have led Kramer on. Don’t take a wheelchair from a man you’re not going to bang. That’s rule number one! Why on earth would she also try to crush his spirit by calling him ugly. As George awkwardly pointed out, he’s very attractive. Just a mess of a relationship which had been built on the best of intentions. Relationship Grade: $242/10

Andrew: If the Drakes can’t make it, I don’t know what hope the rest of us have. Also, I get the sense Lola was just scamming poor, trusting Kramer for a new wheelchair. My faith in love has been shaken to its core.  Relationship Grade: 2/10

Jordan: Hate the Drake. I am totally judging by appearances here, but this guy just looked like a geek, just like rapper Drake. Also, after breaking up, he just sobbed like a baby, much like rapper Drake would. All of this revolved around a poor wheelchair bound person, much like rapper Drake in Degrassi. I feel like the entire rapper Drake persona was built from this episode. Relationship Grade: STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM/10

What Worked

Justin: George’s rant on presents is great; The Drake; Isosceles Kramer; Kramer’s suggestion to buy a house for them to all live in was a fantastic idea; Kramer’s take on the handicap spot was pretty intriguing; I love the callback about remembering where the car is parked; Frank Costanza is amazing immediately; Estelle and her mahjong friends are well portrayed; Kramer’s guilt trip on George to buy the wheelchair was tremendous; The salesman was perfect casting and the whole scene at the store was really well done; Elaine and Jerry’s callous reaction to the crumbling of the Drakes; Jerry and Elaine brooding about the breakup to the point that they think it’s a scam was funny; The God Blessing line always made me laugh; Poor Frank; Nice payoff with George having to become Frank’s butler and the big screen TV gift; Lola deserved what she got

Aaron: That was a nice triangle and it was damn kind of Kramer to be so affected by it. You could summarize the entire show nicely by watching the gang try to blame the handicapped person for getting injured when they parked in their spot. There’s something wonderful about the guy selling the wheelchairs being the scummiest man on earth. Subtle callback as George sits on the couch behind his mother playing Mahjong he grabs a “Glamour” magazine and looks VERY interested. I enjoyed the Kramer love story but I especially enjoyed him shaming George into chipping in for the wheelchair. George’s war against presents and good will was also endearing.

Andrew: I enjoy the “love/hate the Drake” bit as much now as the first time I saw this episode; that’s some impressive staying power. George’s nonsensical feminist rant was perfect for the character, and he somehow tops it with the even more ridiculous “rich, spoiled handicapped people” line. Jerry has some really good background material in this one, like being unreasonably proud of a triangle he drew, or thinking about getting a yo-yo. The scene where Kramer tells Jerry and George that he’s been dumped is excellent, from the hipster doofus callback, to “drop dead”, to the “Am I beautiful?” bit. It’s good to finally see the debut of Frank Costanza, and I’m totally with him on the value of a good parking spot. Having him get arrested at the United Volunteer ceremony was a nice touch, as is George being forced to be his butler. Estelle is excellent as usual, especially when blaming the incident with the car on that “troublemaker” Kramer is great. I loved Jerry and Elaine cheerfully walking out of the uncomfortable situation at the Drake’s apartment, and I’ve always enjoyed the out-of-control wheelchair scene.

Jordan: I really like that Kramer thinks if you can drive, you aren’t handicapped. George getting upset over the engagement gift was funny, and I also agree with him! We buy presents for EVERYTHING now. Jerry’s triangle is so random and I love that kind of stuff in the show. I like the guy pounding on the car even if I think a mob destroying the car is kind of stupid. The scene with George and Kramer at the wheelchair store was awesome. The salesman coming off like a used car salesman was done well, and I like him listing all the features of the top models. Kramer driving a wheelchair around and slamming into things was so great, and I kind of wish they went with a story where he loved it so much, he bought his own and just kept driving into things. The awkwardness with Jerry and Elaine at the apartment when the Drake reveals they just broke up is well done, and I like Elaine coming back in with the remote. Frank Costanza’s debut is good, not great.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Where were the security guards in the parking lot of the mall; Jerry and Elaine gloating over their great gift was overbearing and kind of odd; The fact that the wheelchair would break and the big screen TV would be given to Lola while George happened to be at the house was all linked a bit too easily; The Drake is a pussy

Aaron: I hate all the Drake stuff. Always have, always will. They’re all just trying so hard to get it over. They’re trying as hard to get that saying over as the guy playing Drake is trying to cry. It may be the worst fake cry in entertainment history, and keep in mind I’m a fan of professional wrestling. Whiny George got on my nerves and Elaine was relegated to the background again. It’s like she’s there just to react to Jerry. Unacceptable.

Andrew: I watched the original version of this episode, with John Randolph playing George’s dad rather than Jerry Stiller. It was even weirder than seeing bizarro Morty Seinfeld, and I do not recommend it. I didn’t love the used car salesman routine at the wheelchair store; I get the feeling that was a bit that sounded funnier than it played.

Jordan: The whole big screen TV charity deal didn’t work, and I thought the scene at the end with Lola flying down a hill was cheesy. Would have been funnier to have Kramer retell the story and act it out.

Key Character Debuts

– Frank Costanza

– The Drake

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “The better looking they are, the faster they go! I mean, I see they out there on the street, they’re zooming around, like a blur. Like they have a motor on their ass.” – George

– “It never ends, this present stuff! Engagement present! Then they get married, you gonna have to get them something for that! Then the baby, there’s another present. Then the baby starts getting their presents. I don’t even like Drake.” – George “You don’t like the Drake?” – Jerry “Hate the Drake.” – George “I love the Drake.” – Kramer “How could you not like the Drake?” – Jerry “Who’s the Drake?” – George “Who’s the Drake?” – Elaine “The Drake is good!” – Jerry

– “That’s a nice triangle…” – Kramer “It’s Isosceles” – Jerry “Ooh, Isosceles. I love the name Isosceles. If I had a kid, I would name him Isosceles. Isosceles Kramer.” – Kramer

– “No, no, no. Out of the question. I was over there today. He’s got the good spot in front of the good building in the good neighbourhood. I know he’s not gonna wanna move.” – George

– “Have you ever seen a handicapped person pull into a space and park?” – Kramer “Well there’s spaces there, they must drive!” – Jerry “Well they don’t. If they could drive, they wouldn’t be handicapped.” – Kramer

– “Must be one of those rich, spoiled handicapped people, who didn’t want to do any work, and just wanted to sit in her wheelchair and take it easy. ” – George

– “Frank, the important thing is, he didn’t get hurt!” – Estelle’s Friend “No it isn’t!” – Frank

– “Well, I don’t know if I’m happy for them, I mean I’m glad they’re happy, but, frankly, that doesn’t do anything for me.” – Jerry

– George’s father Frank is introduced

–  “She’s got everything I’ve always wanted in another human being. Except for the walking.” – Kramer “Oh, what’s the difference, you don’t go out that much.” – Jerry

– “Well, you know I went to the hospital today, and I saw the woman, you know, and the wheelchair is totalled, we gotta get her another one!” – Kramer “Doesn’t she have collision?” – George

– “This is out best model. The Cougar 9000. It’s the Rolls Royce of wheelchairs. This is like… you’re almost glad to be handicapped.” – Salesman

– “Boy, I am really starting to dislike the Drake!” – Elaine “I hate the Drake!” – Jerry

– “So you see George, the whole incident was a God blessing! Yeah!” – Kramer “You mean a blessing in disguise?” – George

– “George, am I beautiful?” – Kramer “…You’re very attractive…” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Elaine ordered a veggie burger at the mall

– The Drew Carey Show’s Kathy Kinney plays a mob member

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Another surprisingly good episode here. I knew there were funny bits mixed in before I turned it on, but it was pretty consistently funny throughout. Frank Costanza is amazing right out of the gate, stealing any scene he is in with his charisma and insanity. George and Kramer were top notch too, and I really loved the scene at the wheelchair store. I think there was maybe a bit too much tying everything together here, with the big screen TV and busted wheelchair colliding in the final scenes, but outside of that there was a lot to enjoy in this one but the heightened curve for this show affects it. Final Grade: 6/10

Aaron: Obviously ten for Frank. Everything else was a bit of a letdown though. I’ve said before that watching this series again has made me remember how much stuff was crammed into each episode. This one kind of had the opposite feel. There was nothing going on except everyone pushing this annoying catchphrase. Probably the weakest entry of the season for me. If you’d take Frank out I doubt I would have laughed once. They can’t all be winners. Final Grade: 5/10

Andrew: This episode has a lot going for it: a well-written plot, good performances, and some classic selfish, misanthropic behavior from the main cast. But I didn’t love it. When I try to identify what it is that is holding this one back, I can’t put my finger on anything. And yet, when I compare it to an episode like “The Outing”, it doesn’t measure up. It’s yet another sign of the greatness of season 4 that an offering this solid feels like a disappointment. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: I can’t complain about much here, other than it’s not as good as other episodes have been this season. Everyone was on point in this one: Jerry was good with the triangle and love/hate of the Drake, and I even liked his stand up bit at the beginning. Elaine was a little weak this time around, she just didn’t have much to do. George was good, Kramer was great, and the Costanzas are fun, but haven’t hit their stride yet. Overall, this one has some good laughs, especially from Kramer, and it moves quickly – but I think the last five minutes or so hurt it. The charity TV pickup and Frank’s arrest could have been done better. Final Grade: 6/10