Tech: Ballad of Big Nothing

The first years of Seinfeld, masterpiece of minutiae, finally come to DVD

The early history of Seinfeld has become a well-told story of genius vs. the philistines. NBC nearly killed the series in 1989 after test audiences hated the pilot. Now the new DVD of the show's first three seasons teaches us that the philistines were ... right. Sort of. On second look, the pilot, while funny enough, is weak compared with the observational gem the show became. As Jerry Seinfeld gamely admits on a commentary track with cocreator Larry David, "We didn't know what we were doing."

The pleasure of this DVD set is watching Seinfeld and David add distinctive elements episode...