Tag: Curb Your Enthusiasm blog (Page 2 of 3)

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.5 — Denise Handicapped

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So far, this has been the funniest episode of the new season. All the actors were great, the story lines were solid, and the ideas behind the jokes were eerily funny. I’ve been entertained by this season’s previous episodes, but I’ve always managed to take issue with a plot point. “Denise Handicapped” had none of these cracks.

At a local coffee shop, Larry meets an attractive woman named Denise and they begin conversing over their mutual adoration of the violinist, Chi-Yun. Larry is attending a party were she is performing and they agree to see each other before then. Denise glides away from the table, revealing her disability. She’s in a wheelchair; Larry is in a pickle.

While out to lunch with Jeff and Rosie O’Donnell, Larry tries to pay for the meal. It looks like we have another check dispute on our hands. Unlike the verbal exchange with Jason Alexander, Rosie and Larry get physical. The scene ends with Rosie manhandling Larry’s feeble frame.

Naturally, Larry and Denise’s first date doesn’t go so well. After carrying her up a flight of stairs, their dinner conversation is awkward at best. Still, Denise invites Larry back up to her apartment later in the night. Backed into a corner, Larry accepts. When they begin getting intimate, Larry is at an absolute loss. He fumbles around like a blind basketball player while she remains completely stationary. They gradually make their way to the bedroom where Larry once again aims to please. Denise is unsatisfied throughout his whole performance, leaving Larry suspicious. Does she feel nothing because she’s disabled from the waist down, or because Larry is awful in bed? This is a classic “Curb” dilemma.

Back at his house, Larry picks up a message from the couple that is hosting the Chi-Yun concert. They don’t want Larry to come because of the unsavory comments he made about their adopted Chinese baby. Now that he can’t go to the performance, there’s no reason to continue seeing Denise. He seeks advice from the almighty Leon:

Leon: You did your dizzle on her, right?
Larry: Yeah, I did my dizzle.
Leon: That means you did your f’in thing. Bring the f’in ruckus to that ass, Larry.
Larry: Oh, I suppose you think you could’ve gotten a response?
Leon: You God damn right, Larry.
Larry: Bullsh*t.
Leon: I would’ve had that ass tap dancing, Larry. I don’t f*ck around. Give me her God damn number. I’ll go over there and twist that ass up, Larry. I’d bang that b*tch like Beckham.

Larry takes Denise to a nice restaurant in order to break up with her. However, his motives quickly change as he realizes the perks of dating a handicapped individual. They score a great parking spot and receive preferential treatment during their entire meal. On their “stroll and roll” after eating, they bump into the couple that disinvited them to the concert. Noticing Larry’s contrived sense of good character, they rescind their actions. Larry could get used to this.

Later in the episode, Larry, Jeff, and Suzie try to enjoy a day at the beach. When Suzie forces Jeff to go on a romantic walk, she asks Larry to look after their daughter, Sammy, who is playing in the ocean. At the drop of dime, Sammy begins to drown. Larry, ever the hero, begins his rescue mission. However, before saving the girl, he repeatedly tries to make sure his Blackberry is shielded from harm. By the time Larry is ready, Jeff has already retrieved his daughter. Suzie can immediately sense what really transpired. She heaves Larry’s Blackberry into the ocean, causing him to lose Denise’s number.

Larry and Leon decide to search for Denise’s house. Of course, it’s a fruitless task. Leon soon spots another woman in a wheelchair making her way down the sidewalk. Larry assumes that she must know Denise because they both, ahem, use a wheelchair. The woman, Wendy, is offended at first, but eventually warms up to Larry’s ridiculousness. Wendy also enjoys Chi-Yun, so Larry idiotically invites her to the concert.

The final scene is an outright catastrophe. Even though Larry never contacted her, Denise decided to attend. Wendy and Denise eventually meet and are naturally infuriated with Larry. The episode closes with Larry fleeing his two dates and Rosie O’Donnell. As with “The Hot Towel,” this episode ends with Larry facing an eventual bludgeoning.

We haven’t seen the cast of “Seinfeld” for some time now, but they’ll be back next week.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.4 — The Hot Towel

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Before I begin, I want to say something about Larry David’s acting. I think it’s wonderfully bad. The beauty about working on a show like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is that Larry gets to play a tweaked version of himself. As a sort of wink and nod to viewers, it seems as if he tries to overact at times. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” may come off as realistic, but it’s still a show on television with professional actors.

In the opening scene, Larry is on flight. We have no idea where he’s off to, which is unusual as the viewer is usually privy to everything in Larry’s life. Still, the scene isn’t squandered. The guy he’s sitting next to is wearing shorts and Larry voices his disgust over having to look the man’s legs. While complaining, a stewardess offers Larry the titular hot towel, which burns him.

He’s later treated at his doctor’s office. The doctor, at first cordial, gives Larry a restaurant recommendation. Larry should be on his way, but he asks the doctor for his home phone number, which would strictly be used in case of emergency. The doctor balks at the request but soon gives in, telling Larry to get all the information from his receptionist. While leaving, Larry bumps into an old girlfriend, Mary Jane Porter, who surprisingly asks Larry out on a date.

At Ted Danson and wife Mary’s anniversary party, Larry gives them an expensive gift certificate to the restaurant. The couple is impressed since (and regular viewers will remember) Larry’s present last year was “the freak book.”

Over at the h’orderves table, Larry notices Mary Jane’s friend Christian Slater, who is devouring all the caviar. Larry later blows the whistle on him to Ted Danson’s wife. The party comes to an abrupt halt when Suzie Green announces that, instead of a tangible gift, her daughter Sammy will sing to the Dansons. It’s quickly obvious that Sammy is a terrible singer and Larry shuts her down, infuriating Suzie.

On their date, Mary Jane points out the Dansons and the Greens eating at a table. Larry confronts them, irritated that the Dansons would take the Greens over himself, considering he got them the gift. Of course, nobody agrees with Larry and they get into the subject of Larry’s issues with people singing in public. When the resident restaurant singer begins his routine, Suzie gives Larry the eye. She wants him to treat this man the same way he treated her daughter. Larry senses the dilemma and, in the most cringe-inducing scene of the episode, he tells the singer to “lock it up.”

Back at Mary Jane’s place, Larry is making some headway. He attempts to undo her bra while fooling around, but his burnt hand impedes his progress. He promptly dumps his bandage into the trash can. Mary Jane’s boyfriend calls, catching Larry off guard. Larry tries to keep quiet but he gags on the horrible pie she’s made, loud enough for the neighbors to hear. The boyfriend is on his way, so Larry bolts.

Larry needs to get his hand treated once again. Whenthe doctor instructs Larry to leave the hand unwrapped, Larry stops him. He can’t trust a doctor that would recommend a restaurant with such horrible food. Larry wants it bandaged. The doctor abrasively complies. To make matters worse, Larry compliments the doctor about this house as they apparently live down the street from one another. The office receptionist has given Larry too much information.

Later that night, Larry is exercising on a stationary bike at home. He gets a call from Mary Jane, who tells him that her boyfriend is coming over in a rage. Larry flees, seeking solace at both his doctor’s and the Dansons’ houses. Because of his prior actions, he’s denied sanctuary. Luckily, the Greens show some pity. Still, Larry can screw up any situation. In the morning, Sammy is practicing singing, which prematurely wakes Larry from his slumber. Larry instinctively tells her to “shut the F up.” Without missing a beat, Suzie kicks him out of the house.

Larry’s so far managed to offend more people in the episode than usual. Attempting to make amends, he apologizes to the opera singer back at the restaurant. Mary Jane just happens to be there and she warns Larry that her boyfriend is in the bathroom as they are on a date with Christian Slater and his girlfriend. As Larry turns to leave, he bumps into a big gentleman. Larry’s wrapped hand is a dead giveaway since the boyfriend had previously found a similar bandage at Mary Jane’s place. Larry scurries out the door and hides behind a dumpster. Of course, this is right as Chrisian Slater shows up, and he tells the boyfriend where Larry is hiding. As the looming figure approaches the dumpster, Larry looks up with remorse.

A couple thoughts:

* I guess we won’t be seeing the cast of “Seinfeld” in every episode. I suppose the whole arc of this season simply involves Larry trying to get his wife back and all the problems in between.

* Ted Danson was also in last night’s episode of “Bored to Death,” which airs before “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Danson is on a roll.

* In order to be recognized by Mary Jane’s boyfriend, I know Larry needed to be wearing that bandage on his hand. Still, nobody ever tells their doctor to go against their professional opinion. Everything would have still connected if the doctor had just told Larry to continue wearing a bandage.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.3 — The Reunion

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All the way back in 1998, the funniest sitcom of all time officially went off the air. True, there were exceptional shows that came before and many that would come after, but for my dollar “Seinfeld” sets the bar. I specifically remember watching dozens of episodes with my family, huddled around our little TV on Thursdays nights with the rest of America. Knowing me, I was probably rolling around on the floor in fits of laughter, struck by these absurdly realistic situations pieced together by popping language. Life was and is always hectic, but “Seinfeld” never ceased to fill our house with a sense of calm enjoyment, if only for a half hour every week. Although one could make a case for “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Seinfeld” was the last great “traditional” series to bow out. When I say “traditional,” I’m referring to comedies that don’t adhere to continuous story lines. Starting with “The Larry Sanders Show,” then “Sports Night,” and now “The Office,” “30 Rock,” “Scrubs,” “Extras,” and “Entourage” — these are all shows that flesh out stories throughout an entire series. “The Simpsons” is the only current sitcom from the last century that “resets” itself after every episode. The characters never learn from their mistakes and plots don’t carry over. Unless the brilliance that is “According to Jim” is still on the air, only the animated comedies on Fox (and possibly Cartoon Network) stick to this age-old format. In my mind, that style is more difficult, as with each episode the writers have to start from scratch, severing any possible avenues their characters might crawl down. It’s the perfect framework for stand-up comedians, and that’s why “Seinfeld” was so perfect.

At their core, Jerrfy Seinfeld and Larry David are gag writers. Often described as “comics’ comics,” they didn’t have a schtick, necessarily — their jokes were just really funny. However, while Jerry was likable, crowds could loathe Larry David. Thus, when the idea of a television show presented itself, Jerry reluctantly ventured on camera while Larry stayed behind the scenes as a writer and executive producer. Of course, Larry’s presence would take shape on screen as the character George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander. Enter Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Jerry’s old girlfriend, Elaine, and Michael Richards as Kramer, the wacky neighbor from across the hall, and the rest is history.

After nine seasons — a unreachable duration for comedies these days — “Seinfeld” ended with a two-part finale. In the closing scenes, the four friends are sentenced to an unspecified amount of jail time, leaving their futures in doubt and a reunion a possibility. Over the next few years, each of the actors would follow their own path. Jerry got back into stand-up and made a poorly received kids movie. After failing with one series, Julia found success with her current “New Adventures of Old Christine.” Jason had two sitcom flops and later turned to the theater. As for Michael, we all know what happened to him. It was an unfortunate incident that happened to a talented man. But what of Larry David?

When “Curb Your Enthusiasm” premiered on HBO in 2000, it was the first time most of us had seen Larry. The hype succinctly touted “Curb” as a new show from “the co-creator of ‘Seinfeld.'” That was all it took. The guy couldn’t act, but it didn’t matter. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is “Seinfeld 2.0,” equipped with all the stylings of 21st century television. Continuous story line? Check. Disposal of canned laughter? Check. Single-cam filming? Check. Loose, realistic dialogue? Check. Still, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is about nothing (the subject). Really, it’s only slightly more evolved than “Seinfeld.” Larry David plays himself and funny stuff happens. That’s it. If anybody embodies the “write what you know” philosophy, it’s this guy. In 2007, Larry and his wife officially divorced. Cue Season 6 of “Curb,” which tracks Larry and his on-screen wife Cheryl’s separation. Remarkably simple, but remarkably effective. Larry and “Curb” then took a breather in 2008, likely due to changes in Larry’s personal life. Now in it’s seventh season, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is back, part of HBO’s terrific Sunday nights that also feature “Entourage” and “Bored to Death.” As Larry and Cheryl consistently bump into one another, it’s clear a spark is still there. Cheryl has since become a Laker fan and taken up acting. Seizing an opportunity to win her back, Larry decides to orchestrate the “Seinfeld” reunion, casting Cheryl as Geroge Costanza’s ex-wife in the process.

This is the basic premise of “The Reunion,” the first time Jerry, Julia, Jason, and Michael have been together on television since “Seinfeld’s” finale. Lured by fantasies of being with Cheryl, Larry and executives from NBC agree to a one-off special. Larry begins to make the rounds. Obviously, Jerry is first up, and he takes the most convincing. Jerry: “You hate to get together. You’re not a get-together-guy.” He can’t comprehend Larry’s sudden enthusiasm for this type of thing. As Larry pushes and pushes, Jerry eventually gives in. Excited about its potential, Jerry pitches the idea of casting Meg Ryan in the role of George’s ex-wife. Uh oh.

Larry’s lunch with Jason Alexander isn’t nearly as smooth. Jason gives his seal of approval, but not after expressing his dislike for the “Seinfeld” finale and his unflattering views on the character of George. Upon paying their respective checks, Larry wants to “coordinate the tip” by leaving the same amount. Jason doesn’t see the relevance, further aggravating Larry. Ever the detective, Larry returns to the restaurant and interrogates the same waiter, asking him how “healthy” Jason’s tip was.

Like Jerry, Julia is a bit skeptical, considering how tacky reunion shows have been in the past. Still, since everyone else is in favor, she accepts. When she leaves to answer the phone, Larry grills her daughter about where she was yesterday. Julia couldn’t meet up earlier because she was at her daughter’s birthday. However, Julia has two daughters and the one Larry is talking to hasn’t been around any cake recently. Again, Larry is irrationally stirring the pot.

Out to eat with Michael Richards, Larry continues his crusade. Larry uses the exact same pitch to sell Michael, but Kramer is zoning out. He’s distracted by all the nude art covering the walls of the restaurant. Before leaving, he obliviously agrees to reprise his role infamous role.

Naturally, Larry nearly ruins everything after telling the head of NBC to “go F himself” because of a disagreement over some Laker tickets. But this is Larry David and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” we’re talking about. During the shows final scenes, Larry resolves all the problems he’s created for himself and the “Seinfeld” cast. Nevertheless, nothing is ever seamless. After bumping into Meg Ryan on the street, Jerry offers her the part of George’s ex-wife and she’s game. Maybe it’s just not meant to be, Larry.

As “The Reunion” involved a heavy load of story development, there weren’t as many hilarious lines as one might expect. Now that the set-up is complete, the following episodes should be incredible. All the “Seinfeld” actors were great, playing a role far more surreal than either has ever undertaken in their respective careers.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with my favorite moment from last night’s episode. Larry is apologizing to Sandy Goodman, the head of NBC.

Larry: So, this is me apologizing. It’s about as sorry as I can get. I guess my question is..was it sorry enough?

Sandy: That’s it?

It’s only going to get better, folks.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.2 — Vehicular Fellatio

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To the adroit fan, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” often presents itself as a complex puzzle one can attempt to solve before an episode’s conclusion. Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld perfected the art of interweaving multiple story lines during “Seinfeld’s” nine-season run. There are rarely any cracks in the output, but once in a blue moon you could cite something as a “stretch.” With “Curb,” the two that come to mind are 1) the surgeon shaving Jeff’s head in Season 6 and 2) the doctor taking a soda out of Larry’s fridge without asking in the premiere of Season 7. Considering how beautifully consistent “Curb” has been over time, I always let it slide.

Larry and company took a year off before tackling this new season. It looks like that was a wise decision as it’s been hilarious thus far. In the premiere, Larry was still living with the Blacks, hoping his girlfriend Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox) wouldn’t be diagnosed with cancer. At the end of the episode, everyone involved receives the bad news. Larry is devastated, but not because of his compassion for Loretta. After running into his ex-wife Cheryl at a restaurant, it’s clear they miss one another. The scene hints at the potential “Seinfeld” reunion audiences are expecting. In “Vehicular Fellatio,” Larry quickly realizes he doesn’t have the patience or love to deal with Loretta’s cancer. While blending a shake for Loretta, Larry notices a cancer specialist on “Dr. Phil.” The specialist, a pioneer in the field, is promoting her book that instructs cancer patients to leave their partners/spouses if they are unsympathetic, self-obsessed, and petty — all qualities Larry with which identifies. The show’s themes and possible story arcs are already evident. Richard Lewis, his new girlfriend, Jeff, Suzie, and Larry all go out dinner. Upon arriving, Jeff informs Larry that the girlfriend gave Richard a blowjob on the way to restaurant. Larry promises not to say anything, opting to avoid any physical contact with her during dinner. Larry’s actions inevitably end Richard’s relationship. At the same time, the themes of “hugging” and “fellatio” have been firmly planted.

Larry and Loretta soon meet with the cancer specialist and Larry tries as hard as possible to be the most annoying man in the world. The schtick appears to work as he’s sent outside. Larry can sense freedom! When the couple is driving to the doctor’s lecture, Larry’s plans are temporarily derailed. Larry notices the doctor’s husband in the car in front of him (easily spotted because of his full head of hair). However, the doctor’s head emerges from his lap. While Larry is amused, Loretta is horrified and orders Larry to take her home. Later on, Larry must return to the doctor’s office to pay for another patient’s glasses after Larry innocently broke them. There, he bumps into the specialist. She’s disappointed that he and Loretta didn’t attend the lecture. After much poking and prodding, Larry admits that they didn’t attend because he saw her giving her husband fellatio in the car. The doctor proceeds to attack Larry, hitting him over the head with her bestselling book. Oh, the visual themes are tying the episode together so nicely.

It’s the show’s final scenes, however, that confirm its genius. Loretta’s cousin, and one of Larry’s numerous housemates, Leon, has been having an affair with his friend Alton’s wife. When Larry returns home, Leon has her over. Unfortunately, the suspicious Alton has showed up. As he storms through the house, the girl hides under the passenger seat in Larry’s car. Alton is soon convinced that his wife and Leon aren’t sleeping with each other and leaves. But this is quite the yarn we’re spinning and the best is yet to come. As Loretta pulls into the driveway, Alton’s wife appears from an awkward position next to Larry. Of course, Loretta assumes fellatio and like that, the Blacks are gone and Larry is free to pursue Cheryl.

Thankfully, Leon, an L.A. native, is going to stay on as Larry’s rommate. I won’t spoil the final scene for any of you reading since it purely exemplifies the comedic bliss David has provided over the years. On a night where “Entourage” and “Bored to Death” provided some strong comedy, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” once again came out on top.

Nevertheless, were there any inconsistencies to this tightly woven story? I spotted one and you guys can tell me if you feel the same way. In the beginning of the episode, Loretta pressures Larry into driving her everywhere. She claims her doctor advised her not to operate a vehicle. So why was she driving when she found Larry in the car with Alton’s wife?

Anyway, I thought this episode was great. Stay tuned, because the “Seinfeld” reunion takes place next week!

Old Show, New Season: “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Fair warning: those of you who have been chomping at the bit to see the much-vaunted “Seinfeld” reunion on this season of “Curb Your Enthusiam” had better cool your jets, at least for this week. Although the press (and I’m including myself in their number) immediately latched onto the season’s major plot arc and ran with it, there’s only the tiniest hint in tonight’s episode about the events to come. What we get instead is something which longtime fans of the series will nonetheless appreciate: a follow-up to the Season 6 finale.

If you were there at the end of Season 6, then you remember that Larry, now separated from Cheryl, had managed to find an unexpected love connection with Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox). Well, they’re still together, amazingly enough, but it’s hard to say how much longer the relationship is going to last. Part of it is because she’s starting to drive him crazy, but the other reason is…well, it’s better that you learn it for yourself. Suffice it to say that it’s a development which will immediately make you go, “Oh, God, this is going to be like Susan on ‘Seinfeld’ all over again…” Maybe it won’t be, but that’s certainly the first thing that leapt to my mind.

The season premiere is entitled “Funkhouser’s Crazy Sister,” and the title character – named Bam-Bam – is played by Catherine O’Hara. I gotta tell ya, it’s always great to see O’Hara, and she hits a home run with her role tonight, particularly after one of the characters makes the very foolish choice of indulging in a liaison with Bam-Bam. We also get a brief appearance from Wanda Sykes, and although she’s definitely not a strong presence within the episode, Cheryl does manage to turn up for a few minutes; it’s a testament to how much Larry has missed her, however, that he doesn’t completely lose it when their paths cross. (She unabashedly uses his name to get a good table at a restaurant.)

There’s one thing that doesn’t work very well in the season premiere: the action performed by Loretta’s doctor which annoys Larry and thereby sets off the episode’s series of intertwined events. I think any “Curb” fan worth his or her salt knows that Larry’s pretty easily annoyed, often by the most ridiculous things, but it just isn’t as funny when Larry does something that you know you’d probably do, too. And, trust me, anyone would stand aghast at the doctor’s action. It’s completely inappropriate.

Then again, when you think about it, there really isn’t that much about “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that is appropriate, so I guess it all works out okay in the end. And, besides, as ever, it’s just nice to have Larry David back for another season.

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