Seinfeld has formally moved over to stream on Netflix right this moment, with a brand new 4K improve that guarantees to make the present look higher than ever. However whereas Netflix has upgraded the long-lasting “show about nothing” to even crisper decision, Netflix is hewing to the identical technique that Hulu and different HD releases of the present have used: a extra modern-looking 16:9 facet, as a substitute of providing the unique 4:3 facet ratio through which the present initially aired.
The facet ratio isn’t a brand new drawback for Seinfeld followers, relationship again to the unique HD remaster that was produced in 2008 for TBS HD’s syndicated reruns, which had been newly made scans of the unique movie (therefore the power so as to add again the broader frames that by no means made it into the preliminary broadcast) in widescreen to raised go well with fashionable televisions.
However that 16:9 minimize is the one one which’s been publicly launched in HD; one of the best variations with the unique 4:3 facet ratio format are the DVD releases, that means that Seinfeld followers have been compelled to decide on for years between visible high quality and facet ratio.
When Netflix introduced that it could be getting the rights to Seinfeld — and upgrading the collection to 4K within the course of — there was some hope that the streaming service would return to the drafting board and create a true 4K minimize, one which rescanned the movie within the highest attainable high quality. A brand new 4K scan would even have supplied the chance to revive the 4:3 facet ratio, providing the holy grail of Seinfeld cuts: a high-definition model of the present, cropped because it was initially supposed.
Netflix doesn’t appear to have carried out that, although — one thing that admittedly makes some sense, given the truth that such an enterprise would price an enormous sum of money on high of the already exorbitant $500 million-plus that it spent on the rights. However the service additionally didn’t take the prospect right here to not less than supply the choice to decide on between the HD 16:9 minimize and the lower-resolution 4:3 facet ratio, which might have been a useful compromise.
The 4:3 facet ratio isn’t nearly nostalgia, both. The broader facet ratio has an actual impression on issues like the fundamental blocking of scenes: in change for barely extra footage of the left and proper sides of the body, the highest and backside of the frames get minimize off, ensuing within the occasional cropped foot or high of somebody’s head.
And very similar to The Simpsons (which suffered an analogous facet ratio difficulty when it first hit streaming), the 16:9 minimize of the present additionally ruins among the jokes: as one Twitter person identified, the pothole from the episode “The Pothole” doesn’t really seem anymore within the widescreen model because of the cropping there.
— Brandon (spooky model) (@Thatoneguy64) October 1, 2021
The excellent news is that there’s some precedent for a repair: when The Simpsons first began streaming on Disney Plus, it too was lacking an choice for its unique facet ratio, however the service ultimately did add the choice to toggle on the 4:3 facet ratio a number of months later. Which implies that there’s the (admittedly unlikely) probability that Netflix — or whoever finally ends up with the Seinfeld rights subsequent — might resolve to supply an analogous choice someday sooner or later, too.