Seinfeld

Show Statistics

Season Awards Rating
9
73
8.9
Show Type Genres
Friend Group Sitcom
Comedy
Pilot Scene Count Screenplay Scene Count

16

7

Main Characters

Jerry Seinfeld

George Costanza

Elaine Benes

Cosmo Kramer

Character Changes

Leon Seinfeld

The actor who played Jerry's dad is replaced  by another actor after this episode. 

In the pilot, his name is changed to Morty.

Elaine Benes

The spelling was originally Eileen.

Act Breakdown

Please Note:

It is unclear whether or not this episode of Seinfeld was the original pilot. It clearly states pilot, but it was not the first episode aired. Another clue is the fact that George and Jerry do not have descriptions and Elaine does. However because I wanted to do a Seinfeld episode, this is the “pilot” I will be analyzing.

Act One

Added: Stand-up Routine

For what would become a standard format throughout the show’s run, part of Seinfeld’s stand-up is added to the beginning of the show. It is not present in the script.

INT. VIDEO RENTAL STORE

The purpose of the scene is to set up tension between Elaine and Jerry, while setting up two other scenes we will see later on: Pam’s birthday at the restaurant and Jerry’s family wedding.

The scene stays relatively the same with dialogue and other changes highlighted below:

Dialogue Changes

  • Cut Dialogue

Jerry: What are you laughing at?

Elaine: Nothing. I just thought of something.

Jerry: What?

Elaine: This guy I went out with on Friday.

Jerry: What about him?

Elaine: he had this habit. He kept saying "You know", after every sentence. So, after a while I started answering him. Like he'd say, "I really like the shrimp, you know?" And I'd say, "No, I didn't know." And thne he got this real confused look on his face.

  • Cut Joke
  • Replacement Joke

Elaine: This is supposed to be good. "Prick Up Your Ears."

Jerry: I saw it in a theatre. There's a lot of male kissing. I had a little trouble with it.

Elaine: Did you cover your eyes?

Jerry: No, I just kid of played with popcorn...Do you think homosexuals close their eyes when they see heterosexuals kissing?

Elaine: I close my eyes when I see heterosexuals kissing...

Jerry: Then I suppose this is out of the question.

Jerry holds up a porno.

Elaine: I really don't think film is the penis's medium. But that would be a really funny gift for Pamela's birthday.

Elaine: Okay what are we doing here? I've seen everything.

Jerry: Oh ya, even this.

Jerry holds up a porno.

Elaine: What do you think their parents think?

Jerry: So what's your son doing, Dr. Stephens? Oh he's a public fornicator.

Finish

  • Cut Joke
  • Replacement Joke

Elaine: A wedding? You call that a deal? I'm talking about a couple of beers. You get home from a wedding you feel like you have jet lag without having gone anywhere.

Elaine: A wedding? Have you lost it man?

  • Cut Joke
  • Replacement Joke

Jerry: I'll pick you up and take you home.

Jerry: There's a lot of people to mock.

Other Changes:

Jerry forgets Pam before finally remembering her.

The two elderly women with the random line end the scene instead of interrupting the flow in the middle.

Added: Exterior Shot of Street

INT. BAR/RESTAURANT

The purpose of this scene is to introduce an intriguing love interest for Jerry, while furthering the tension with Elaine.  

The structure of the scene stays the same, but some of the dialogue and story changes are highlighted below:

Dialogue Changes:

  • Cut Dialogue

Jerry: I hate situations like this. I don't know anyone. Who am I going to talk to?

Elaine: You can talk to me... What's wrong with you? Don't you like to meet new people?

Jerry: I've got enough trouble with the people I've already met.

Elaine: Oh, there they are.

Story Changes:

One of the bigger changes of the episode is Elaine interrupting Jerry and Vanessa instead of Pam. As we find out later on, there was already tension between Jerry and Elaine due to a previous relationship. Jerry refuses to ask Elaine for Vanessa’s phone number because she was the reason he couldn’t get any details from her. In the screenplay, Pam interrupts Jerry and then Jerry won’t ask Elaine for the number because it is awkward based on a past relationship the audience is not familiar with.

The Pam interruption is centered around Pam asking Jerry about the bike he is going to buy. Elaine then distracts Pam so Jerry can finish the conversation with Vanessa.

The Elaine interruption is centered around Elaine telling Jerry she had a dram with him where he had wooden teeth. This works both as a funny story as well as Elaine accidentally on purpose interrupting Jerry with another girl. Pam then distracts Elaine while Jerry finishes his conversation with Vanessa.

At the end of the scene, Jerry is internally repeating the law firm name and looks over at Elaine who is smiling back at him making things awkward.

Other Changes:

Jerry and Elaine are seated right away instead of being comically squeezed in by a wall.

Originally the piano player tries to get everyone to sing. Instead the piano player doesn’t speak and Vanessa comments on the piano player first, not Jerry.

Vanessa does not put on a Yankees hat when she leaves.

The scene ends with Jerry chan

Added: Exterior Shot of Traffic

ADDED- INT. CAB

This scene was added to the pilot to emphasize the disbelief of Elaine after Jerry ignored her at the restaurant. Although they are not a couple, it draws attention to the differences of male and female friends and friends of the same sex.

Added: Stand-up Routine

Added: Exterior Shot of Apartment

INT. JERRY'S APT - NIGHT

The purpose of this scene is to introduce Jerry’s parents and for Jerry to figure out a way to meet Vanessa with only the clue of where she works. 

The scene structure stays the same with only changes in the dialogue as noted below:

Dialogue Changes:

  • Screenplay
  • Pilot

Jerry says Kramer doesn't care that he is staying over.

Jerry says Kramer doesn't mind him staying because hes making a Boullibasse, which after Googling, is a traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille.

  • Screenplay
  • Pilot

After being asked why he isn't with Elaine anymore, Jerry awkwardly admits to his parents that the physical chemistry wasn't right.

After being asked why he isn't with Elaine anymore, Jerry tells his parents that he and Elaine would fight a lot, which his parents understand. Then Jerry purposely makes it awkward by saying the physical chemistry isn't right.

In different points of the conversation, Jerry also adds there is tension with Elaine and that the problems were not all one sided.

  • Screenplay
  • Pilot

Elaine is from Queens.

Elaine is from Maryland.

Jerry’s father uses the line “stake out the lobby” in the pilot, alluding to the title of the episode.

Act Two

Added: Exterior Shot of Office Building

INT. OFFICE BUILDING LOBBY - DAY

The purpose of this scene is for Jerry to stake out the lobby and meet Vanessa. However in doing so, Elaine also finds out that he went to great lengths to find Vanessa for a date.

The scene stays the same structurally, with some dialogue changed as noted below:

Dialogue Changes:

George asked if Elaine called him back and Jerry says shes probably still mad.

George adds in the name Art Vanderlay when talking to Vanessa.

After Jerry realizes that it was Vanessa’s cousin at the restaurant with her, he tells Vanessa that Elaine was just a friend. This line was added due to the story line now surrounding Jerry and Elaine.

  • Cut Dialogue

George: So, I don't understand. You never talk about other women with Elaine?

Jerry: Never.

George: I don't know how you d it. That's 80% of my conversation. That's why dates are so difficult, because I can never talk to the date about the problems I'm having with women. And relationships are no better, because then I'm not having any problems with women and I have nothing to talk about. And then not having anything to talk about becomes a problem but I don't talk about it. Except when I'm with other people - then, all I talk about is her and how we have absolutely nothing to talk about.

Jerry: Did you ever think about killing yourself?

Added: Exterior Shot of Apartment Building

INT. JERRY'S APT.

The purpose of this scene is to convey to Jerry that Elaine is still expecting to go the wedding with him. In the pilot, it is also use to convey to Jerry that Elaine knows about his stake out at Vanessa’s workplace.

Dialogue Changes:

  • Cut Dialogue

Jerry: I called your boss a cheapskate?

Father: You don't remember?

Jerry: How old was I?

Father: You were 10. You told him to give me more money.

Jerry: I was very disappointed with my toys.

Story Changes:

Kramer is added to the scene roaming around the apartment and helping Jerry’s mother with scrabble. He is the one who comes up with the Scrabble word that is not a word. 
Kramer is only added for comic relief and doesn’t affect the overall story.

Added: Exterior Shot of Apartment Building

INT. CATERING HALL

The purpose of this scene is to wrap up the weird tension between Elaine and Jerry and to set the record straight on their friendship. 

Story Changes:

This scene was originally set at the wedding, but changed to Jerry’s apartment. In the screenplay, Elaine admits that she could tell Jerry liked Vanessa based on the way he was talking to her at the restaurant. After Jerry admits it, Elaine tells him that she could have got the number for him. Jerry also joked that he bumped into Pam at her lobby as well.

As both Elaine and Jerry know the whole story of the stake out for Vanessa by the time they talk, the only real issue remaining is the awkwardness between them about discussing relationships with each other. Jerry jokingly breaks he ice by introducing himself to Elaine and they discuss being friends and being able to talk about relationships before heading off to the wedding together.

Added: Stand-up Routine

Screenwriting Elements

Parenthesis Use

The Seinfeld script contains a lot of parenthesis use including all action descriptions. Not the standard way to do it these days, but due to the script containing mostly dialogue, it didn’t look too out of place.

audience Laugh Track

There is no suggestion or mention of a laugh track in the script. Probably redundant to say this, but in case any new writers were wondering.

Exterior Shots

Exterior shots have become a mainstay in sitcoms because it helps set up the next scene by showing the audience the exterior. The restaurant in Seinfeld and the cafe in friends are well known exterior shots. 

Seinfeld doesn’t contain any exterior shots and in doing my due diligence neither does the Friends pilot. It obviously isn’t as important in the early stages of a draft and likely added in the shooting script.

White Space

Seinfeld is mostly dialogue so there is a lot of white space. The few long paragraphs of dialogue are also cut down in the pilot making dialogue exchanges quicker and more natural.

Cut Jokes

Part of comedy writing is learning the art of telling a joke. As I showed above, some jokes were changed out for others. Do not get too attached to a joke. You may find it funny, but it may lose its humor quicker than other jokes and may not fit into the overall story.

Cohesive Story

As mentioned, Elaine replaced Pam as the woman who distracts Jerry from Vanessa. It made the story more cohesive tying together the problem of asking Elaine for the phone number, the awkwardness of talking to her and then the final joke of her also staking out a guy. 

Always look for ways to tie your story together by playing around with roles and putting characters in situations to see how they would react. It’s a lot easier for sitcoms, and a bit trickier for dramas, but you’d be surprised what you come up with after brainstorming in this manner.

Five Differences

1. Elaine Replaces Pam

As mentioned above, Elaine replaces Pam as the girl who interrupts Jerry. This has a rippling effect throughout the episode including making the story more cohesive. There’s already tension between Jerry and Elaine, which the audience originally doesn’t find out until he talks with his parents. In the pilot, the audience is shown the tension through the restaurant scene and subsequent cab scene instead of being told through exposition. This also gives a better reason as to why Jerry can’t just ask Elaine for the number.

2. Kramer is added

Kramer was originally never in the script. He is added to the scene where Jerry and his mother play Scrabble. He doesn’t add anything to the overall plot, but his antics are always good for a laugh.

3. No wedding shown

At the end of the script, Jerry and Elaine end up going to the wedding. However in the pilot, although they still go to the ending, the final scene is in Jerry’s apartment before the wedding. Whether it was cut for budgetary reasons or for simplicity, there was really no need for the wedding scene. The scene in the apartment wrapped up the episode’s story perfectly between Elaine and Jerry, and the background of the wedding was going to do nothing except play for a few laughs.

4. Ending

At the end of the script, Elaine and Jerry basically talk about everything the audience already knows. Because the initial interaction was with Pam, the only issue is that Jerry could have just asked Elaine for the number. There’s really no further issues between the two. The pilot not only has Jerry and Elaine discuss the awkwardness of being friends now, but also cleverly works that Elaine also staked someone out tying together the episode and both story lines.

5. Elaine Finds out about Art Vanderlay

Art Vanderlay is the name of the fictional friend that George and Jerry are supposed to meet. After the scene with Vanessa, Jerry uses it as a joke to Elaine at the wedding, and she doesn’t get it. In the pilot, Elaine finds out about Jerry’s stakeout, likely through Vanessa, which puts Jerry in an awkward position. This change clues Elaine into what Jerry’s been up to and has them both in on the joke at the end of the episode.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *