I thought I’d give my opinion on the pilot episode “Seinfeld” (my number two favorite TV show of all time), entitled “The Seinfeld Chronicles.” Initially the show was called “The Seinfeld Chronicles” and had a much different format in store for audiences. The show didn’t really pick up and become a zany bit of sitcom fun until the episode with Keith Hernandez and the excellent spoof of “JFK”; although, “The Subway” is an excellent episode in its own right, as well.
Many sites on the net have touted “The Seinfeld Chronicles” as the worst episode of the series, which is easily a stretch. The episode is rough around the edges, but the worst? No way. It’s much better than the episode where Jerry is forced to babysit an annoying dog, as well as the backward episode, and the one where George gives Elaine the sweater with the red dot, and the episode where George is hung up on his girlfriend’s big nose.
And the two part series finale? Give me the pilot episode over that clip show any day. “Seinfeld” is still in syndication twenty five years later, and is still a very popular show. Here in New York, it plays on local stations WPIX, and FOX often, and plays mini-marathons on TBS cable station in Atlanta. The show is hysterical and still brilliant despite a few episodes that are painfully outdated and revolve around obsolete technology.
“Seinfeld” originally was going to be cancelled by NBC, but on a wing and a prayer it continued (slightly retooled) and became a massive hit in America. In this instance, the retooling of the series propelled it in to becoming a cultural zeitgeist. “The Seinfeld Chronicles” is an awkward episode, and not entirely funny, but it sets the template for a lot of future storylines and episode structures. There’s so much to the pilot that change in future episodes, it’s kind of sad.
Kramer has a dog that’s never seen again, there is many more stand up comedy intermissions, Jerry likes the Mets and not the Yankees, George is prone to wearing a fanny pack, and Jerry and George have a female foil. Her name is Claire, and she’s a spunky waitress who responds to their humorous conversations with clever one liners and double takes. She’s never seen again in future episodes, where the writers made the wise choice of replacing her with Elaine, a long time friend and ex-girlfriend of Jerry’s.
I don’t particularly miss Claire, and I don’t miss the apartment building’s bickering interracial superintendents, either. Among other fairly minute details altered later on in the show’s run, is George mentioning his brother who we never see, and Elaine mentioning a sister of hers, who we never see.
“The Seinfeld Chronicles” garners a humorous plot, but not one that inspires laughter overall. I really like the argument in the Laundromat where George and Jerry attempt to analyze a call from an old friend of Jerry’s named Laura. She plans to stay over while in New York, and Jerry isn’t sure if it’s a romantic errand, or something purely platonic. During the episode George and Jerry try to decode the conversation, which results in their argument in the Laundromat.
I still chuckle when Jerry finishes his rant about “Over drying and over dying” to which George looks around at the crowd in the Laundromat asking “Any questions?” The episode ends with Jerry being painfully wrong about his house guest when he learns she’s married, and plans to be one of those guests that drags Jerry to every tedious New York landmark he’s likely been on a thousand times in the past. We never see Laura again, either.
“The Seinfeld Chronicles” seems like a fairly innocuous pilot that has a general idea of what it’s trying to sell the audience, but needed so much more tweaks and alterations before it could finally perfect the formula and become a huge hit. “Seinfeld,” like any other long running hit show is an imperfect run, but with so much more hits than misfires, and “The Seinfeld Chronicles” is by no means a misfire. If you can consider the context of its origins, it’s a fine and entertaining introduction in to Jerry Seinfeld’s universe.