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A Comedy Classic Celebrates 30 Years

Nineteen eighty-nine was an eventful year in a lot of ways. When you think about some of the key moments that year – Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of Solidarity in Poland and the free elections in Czechoslovakia – it’s hard to forget what a pivotal year 1989 was. As a teenager at the time, I remember those events and how they shaped me, especially in light of the personal events I dealt with that year.

There were some fascinating cultural moments in 1989 as well. That year was the beginning of Disney renaissance in animation. Other terrific films like Driving Miss Daisy, Glory, and Dead Poets’ Society made 1989 one of the best years at the movies in a long time. And there was one sitcom that debuted 30 years ago today that left an indelible mark on culture.

I remember seeing the promos for a special called The Seinfeld Chronicles. I was a fan of Jerry Seinfeld’s standup, and I knew I wanted to check his show out. It was like nothing I had seen before. The writing was clever and witty, and the show made terrific use of Seinfeld’s delivery and sense of humor.

“The Seinfeld Chronicles” isn’t by far among the best episodes of the series. So much about the show is different, and it hadn’t quite found its rhythm at the time. Kramer is Kessler. George is far more self-assured and almost cocky, while Elaine isn’t even in the picture (instead, we have an almost too deadpan waitress).

But as far as pilot episodes go, “The Seinfeld Chronicles” is head and shoulders above so many other debut episodes. Once the show gained traction, we saw plenty of classic moments – from “The Chinese Restaurant” to “The Boyfriend” to “The Contest” to “The Bizarro Jerry,” and so many more.

Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer gave us so much to laugh about, and a coterie of supporting characters like Newman, David Puddy, Susan Biddle-Ross, and the Soup Nazi joined in the fun. Most of the episodes are still hilarious today, and rarely do they seem too dated.

Here’s to 30 years of Seinfeld! I’m watching “The Seinfeld Chronicles” tonight to celebrate. Back when the show turned 25, I wrote about my favorite Seinfeld episodes, and my choices haven’t changed much since. What are your favorite moments from the show?

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