When Seinfeld launched on Netflix on October 1st, there was hope that the streamer’s upgrade to 4K resolution was used as an opportunity to restore the show to its original 4:3 aspect ratio. This would have meant avoiding similar cropping issues experienced by The Simpsons when it first arrived on Disney+ in late 2019, but alas that is not the case.
Instead, Netflix stuck with the 16:9 ratio dating back to the original HD remaster made for the TBS syndicated reruns of Seinfeld, which was produced from newly made scans of the original film. As The Verge explains, this made it possible to add back wider frames not seen in the initial broadcast to make the show look better on modern TVs.
An unfortunate byproduct of the move to 16:9 is the blocking of scenes. In order to include more footage on the left and right sides of the frame, parts of the top and bottom need to get cut off. Normally this is not a huge deal, but the HD cut can actually ruin episodes that rely on a visual gag by… cutting out key details.
One Seinfeld fan pointed out a particularly egregious example on Twitter, in which the titular pothole from Season 8’s “The Pothole” is entirely cropped out. Check out a side by side comparison between Netflix cut and original broadcast below.
Last year, Disney+ remedied customer complaints about old seasons of The Simpsons by offering the option to toggle to the original 4:3 aspect ratio. Netflix would be doing a solid for millions of Seinfeld fans if they went down the same path.
— Brandon (spooky version) (@Thatoneguy64) October 1, 2021