The Seinfeld Chronicles

The Seinfeld Chronicles

Infobox Television episode
Title=The Seinfeld Chronicles

Caption=Jerry and George in Pete's Luncheonette.
Airdate=July 5, 1989
Writer=Larry David Jerry Seinfeld
Director=Art Wolff
Guests = Pamela Brull
Episode list=List of "Seinfeld" episodes
Season list = Infobox Seinfeld season 1 episode list
Prev =
Next = The Stakeout

"The Seinfeld Chronicles" (also known as "Good News, Bad News" for syndication)cite video|title=Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Notes about Nothing - "The Seinfeld Chronicles"|medium=DVD|publisher=Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|date=2004-11-23] is the pilot episode of the NBC sitcom "Seinfeld". The pilot, the first of the 180 "Seinfeld" episodes, was written by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, and was directed by Art Wolff. It originally aired on July 5, 1989, and was re-broadcast July 5, 1990, after the show had been picked up as a series. The pilot guest stars Pamela Brull. [cite web|last=Kytasaari|first=Dennis|url=|title=Seinfeld (a Titles & Air Dates Guide)||date=2007-08-09|accessdate=2008-03-19]

When first broadcast, the pilot was watched by nearly 11% of American households. These ratings were high enough to secure the show's first season. "Seinfeld" later went on to become one of the most successful sitcoms made, with one poll in 2002, naming "Seinfeld" as the greatest American television program of all time. [cite news|title= TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows|url=|publisher= Associated Press|date=2002-04-26|accessdate=2008-04-01] A 2006 sitcom industry poll conducted by the British Channel 4 voted "Seinfeld" as the third best sitcom ever. [cite web|last=Wezzo|url=|title=Channel 4's Ultimate Sitcom|publisher=Listology|date=2006-01-03|accessdate=2008-04-01]

The pilot episode features several differences to the rest of the series. The character of Cosmo Kramer is named "Kessler". Elaine Benes does not appear in the episode. Jerry and George eat at "Pete's Luncheonette" as opposed to Monk's Cafe. The character of Claire the waitress (Lee Garlington) was originally planned as a regular but was dropped.


Jerry and his friend George Costanza are seated at "Pete's Luncheonette", debating the placement of a shirt button. The waitress, Claire, pours each of them a cup of coffee. George frets about whether Claire is giving him regular or decaf, saying he does not want caffeine in his coffee. Claire later implies that she gave him regular to annoy him. Jerry then tells George about a woman he met in Michigan, named Laura, who is coming to New York. Jerry wonders if she has romantic intentions. The two continue to talk about her after they leave the luncheonette and go to the laundry.

The next evening, Jerry tells his neighbor, Kessler (Kramer), that he thinks he misunderstood the situation with Laura. Jerry then receives a telephone call from Laura, who asks if she can stay overnight at his apartment. Jerry invites her, but is still unsure whether or not her visit is intended to be romantic. George and Jerry continue to debate the issue, with Jerry determined to find the true nature of her visit.

At the airport, George and Jerry continue to try to identify the possible signals Laura might give upon her arrival, with George explaining the meaning of various greetings. However, when Laura arrives, her greeting offers no hints. Jerry and Laura arrive at the apartment. Laura then removes some excess clothing to get comfortable, asks for wine, turns down the light and asks if she can stay over a second night. As Jerry begins to grow confident, the phone rings for Laura. When Laura gets off the phone she tells Jerry: "Never get engaged." Jerry then realizes that he has no chance with Laura, but has already committed himself — and his one-bedroom apartment — to an entire weekend with her.


Seinfeld said that the idea of the episode was to show there are "gaps in society where … there are no rules." [cite video|people=Jerry Seinfeld|title=Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Inside Looks - "The Seinfeld Chronicles"|medium=DVD|publisher=Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|date=2004-11-23] The pilot was filmed at Stage 8 of Desilu Cahuenga studios, the same studio where "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was filmed (this was seen by the crew as a good omen), [cite video|people=Rob Reiner|title=Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Inside Looks - "The Seinfeld Chronicles"|medium=DVD|publisher=Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|date=2004-11-23] ) and was recorded at Ren-Mar Studios in Hollywood. The stand-up element of the pilot was seen as a distinctive feature; however, some of this material was not included in the broadcast version. In the pilot, Kessler has a dog called Ralph, included so a stand-up routine Seinfeld had written about dogs could be used. However, this routine was cut, and as a result Ralph was never explained, and did not appear in any other episodes. [cite video|people=Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David|title=Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Inside Looks - "The Seinfeld Chronicles"|medium=DVD|publisher=Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|date=2004-11-23]

Originally, the pilot was to feature George, as well as Jerry, as a comedian. Early versions of the script featured George, named "Bennett", discussing his stand-up performance. However, this idea was abandoned, and George became a real estate broker. Claire the waitress was originally called "Meg". The character of Kramer did not appear in the first draft of the script. In later scripts, he appears as "Kramer". However, as Kramer was named after a real person he was called "Hoffman", and later "Kessler", because of worries about the rights to use the name. The original title of the pilot was "Stand Up". This later was changed to "The Jerry Seinfeld Show", then "Good News, Bad News". However, the production staff and writers refer to the pilot as "The Seinfeld Chronicles", to avoid confusion with a later "Seinfeld" episode called "The Pilot". Other titles considered included "Signals" and "The Airport Pick-Up". The pilot features different title music, written by Jep Epstein. Some of the people in the studio audience were paid extras, but all the laughter heard is genuine.

There is a deleted scene which features Jerry and George driving to the airport, where they talk about changing lanes on the road and giving "Thank you waves". This was reused in a later episode, "The Good Samaritan". Some parts of the stand-up material featured in the pilot were filmed for an episode in the second season, "The Ex-Girlfriend", but were cut from the episode.


On its initial showing, July 5, 1989,"The Seinfeld Chronicles" was received poorly by audience testing groups. Comments included, "You can't get too excited about two guys going to the laundromat"; "Jerry's loser friend George is not a forceful character"; "Jerry needs a stronger supporting cast"; and "Why are they interrupting the stand-up for these stupid stories?" Other people complained that the show was "too Jewish" and "too New York". [cite web|last=Boudreaux|first=Jonathan|url=|title=Seinfeld: Season 1 & 2 DVD Review||date=2004-11-24|accessdate=2008-03-19] Jerry was seen as naive, dense and powerless. As a result, NBC passed on the show. However, NBC executive Rick Ludwin believed the series had potential. He therefore gave "Seinfeld" a budget to create four more episodes, which formed the rest of season 1. [cite web|last=Duffy|first=Mike|url=|title=Give thanks for 'The 'Seinfeld' Story'||date=2004-11-24|accessdate=2008-03-19] This is the smallest sitcom order in television history. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Elaine) has claimed that she was not aware of the pilot before she became a regular on "Seinfeld". Out of superstition, she has claimed she will never watch the episode. [cite video|people=Julia Louis-Dreyfus|title=Seinfeld Seasons 1 & 2: Inside Looks - "The Seinfeld Chronicles"|medium=DVD|publisher=Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|date=2004-11-23]

When it was broadcast, the pilot received a Nielsen Rating of 10.9/19, meaning that the pilot was watched by 10.9% of American households, and that 19% of all televisions in use at the time were tuned into it. When it was first repeated on July 5, 1990, it received a rating of 13.9/26. These ratings were high enough to secure a second season. NBC research showed that the show was popular with young male adults, a demographic sought after by advertisers. This gave NBC an incentive to keep broadcasting the show. [cite web|last=Rapp|first=David|url=|title=Seinfeld: The Unlikeliest Success Story|publisher=American Heritage|date=2006-05-31|accessdate=2008-03-19] One DVD reviewer, Britt Gillette, wrote that "this initial episode exhibits the flashes of brilliance that made "Seinfeld" a cultural phenomenon." [cite web|last=Gillette|first=Britt|url=|title=Seinfeld (Seasons 1 & 2) DVD Review|publisher=Article City|date=2006-09-20|accessdate=2008-03-19]

Another review, by Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide, said, "As one watches the pilot, it's hard to believe Seinfeld ever became so great. Okay – that's not wholly true, as one can see the sparks of the series' later inventiveness. However, the pilot is almost totally free from humor, as little about it seems amusing. It's got potential but little else." [cite web|last=Jacobson|first=Colin|url=|title=Seinfeld: Seasons 1 & 2 (1990-1991)|publisher=DVD Movie Guide|date=2004-11-18|accessdate=2008-03-19] Benjamin Willcock from DVD Active wrote that, "The pilot episode entitled "The Seinfeld Chronicles" was actually not exclusive to the show, it does not, for example have most of the acting talent as seen later on in the show, and some of the references might not make sense at first. It's still a good way to get things rolling, but for the real meat you'll want to check out the remainder of the first season, as vastly abbreviated as it is." [cite web|last=Willcock|first=Benjamin|url=|title=Seinfeld: Season 1 & 2 Boxed Set|publisher=DVD Active|accessdate=2008-03-19]

References in later episodes

The pilot was a reference point for various incidents and storylines in later episodes of "Seinfeld". The opening scene in which Jerry and George talk about the placement of a shirt button is repeated almost word for word in the final scene of "The Finale", the final episode of "Seinfeld". The process of making the pilot became the inspiration for the main story arc in season 4, in which Jerry and George write a sitcom pilot for NBC called "Jerry". Jerry's calling Kramer "Kessler" is explained in "The Betrayal", the "backwards episode" in season 9. This features a scene from 11 years in the past, in which Jerry moves into his new apartment. Jerry calls Kramer "Kessler", but Kramer explains that it is only the name on his apartment buzzer. George's philosophy of doing the opposite to his natural instincts reappears in the episode "The Opposite".


External links

[ Episode script]

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