1989: NBC Airs ‘The Seinfeld Chronicles’
When Seinfeld first appeared on NBC, as a one-shot pilot called The Seinfeld Chronicles, cowriters Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David already had the basic concept down: less is more. This was to be, in a phrase that came to summarize the show neatly if too simplistically, “a show about nothing.” It was to be about the little things in life — the wait for a table at a restaurant, the search for the perfect piece of fruit, the fight for a free curbside parking place.
Yet in the original pilot designed by Seinfeld and David, some now-familiar elements of Seinfeld were missing. There was no endearingly goofy segue music, no Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus joined the case a few episodes into the series), and a very different Kramer. In that protean Seinfeld Chronicles version, which aired on this day in 1989, the character played by Michael Richards is not only a recluse (“You haven’t been out of the building in ten years,” Jerry tells him), but when Kramer enters a room, he knocks first, and waits for the door to be opened.
Times changed, and when Seinfeld went to series a year later, Kramer’s high-energy entrances eventually became one of the show’s many hallmarks — along with key phrases, recurring characters, and several defiantly unusual plotlines.
—Excerpted from Dictionary of Teleliteracy: Television’s 500 Biggest Hits, Misses and Events