Tag: Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 7 review

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.10 — Seinfeld (season finale)

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I wonder what it would have been like to watch this finale with someone unfamiliar with “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Even if this person had seen an episode or two of “Seinfeld,” they surely wouldn’t have gotten though this block of television without walking out of the room. There’s too much going on for the casual viewer — too many ideas, too many risks, too many inside jokes. Last night’s episode was a love note specifically to the fans of the two shows. Of course, there are millions out there.

I’ve been having trouble gathering my thoughts on the finale. Given the lush layers of meta-comedy, it’s been tough developing a succinct piece. Rather than break down last night’s plot or provide a critique, I want to answer the simple question that other reviewers have posed — a question you might be pondering as well: Will there be another season of “Curb?”

Yes, there has to be, and all the evidence was provided last night. In 2007, Larry David and his wife filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” (When I get my divorce, that is what the documents will say.) David took two years off between Seasons 6 and 7 to get his ducks in order. In that time, he began piecing together what would become the story arc for Season 7: Larry tries to win Cheryl back by casting her in a “Seinfeld” reunion. It’s the perfect plan for Larry David’s character and the perfect incentive for fans of “Seinfeld” to give “Curb” a chance.

To be honest, I think the past two seasons of “Curb” are the best in its run. I watched an episode the other day from Season 2 and, while funny, it doesn’t hold a candle to those from 6 or 7. Larry David has mastered playing this slanted version of himself. Go take a look at his performances in the earlier seasons – he hasn’t figured “himself” out yet. When you examine all the levels on which Season 7 operates, it’s really impressive. Larry David the actor as Larry David the character playing George Costanza the character will go down as one of the most convoluted, yet brilliant moments in television. Reading about this stuff isn’t fair to the episode — just watch it, laugh, and recognize the years and years it took for this comedy to materialize. It’s astonishingly unique.

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But why will there be a Season 8?

I know it’s been said before, but “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is Larry’s life. The show is ultimately constructed from the content in the notepad Larry carries around everywhere he goes. After Larry went through his divorce, it’s no surprise that the next season of his TV show dealt with that issue. Do I think Larry intended to win his actual ex-wife back by having “Curb’s” Larry and Cheryl re-unite in a near tear-jerking scene? No, I don’t. But since Larry David’s life, quite literally, belongs in television, it’s not all that weird that he would simultaneously mock the medium. In the show, Jerry Seinfeld points out that reunions are lame — fans want everything to work out wonderfully, with plenty of schmaltz and all the loose ends perfectly tied. Thankfully, this season’s finale will simply please fans of “Curb” — not fans of traditional television.

What else is a wealthy observational comedian supposed to do with his time? Not work? As Larry shamelessly admits in this season’s episodes, his life implodes when he has nothing to do.

We’ll get another season when Larry gets sick of being Larry. From what I understand, that shouldn’t be too long.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.9 — The Table Read

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Larry David doesn’t care about transcending the real world for the sake of perverse comedy. (Note: I said perverse comedy. Larry is reaching into more unsavory realms this season.) Since the show is filmed like a home video and the characters speak like you and I, we as an audience often attempt to relate to the plots. Nevertheless, as much as we push to find the realism in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” — as close as we get to thinking, I would do the same thing! — Larry can effortlessly shatter the correlation.

So, when Larry’s casting director casually informs him that her daughter has “a rash on her pussy,” we know we’re visiting another universe. As the episode carries on, Larry repeatedly receives text message from Emma, the little girl. Try as he may to end the correspondence, Larry is deterred by her persistence and cuteness. When Larry visits his doctor (because of a rash he likely got from Emma), we fully appreciate our view from home.

Doctor: Well, do you have any idea how you may have gotten this rash?
Larry: I’ve been seeing this nine year-old girl and she kinda has a rash on her pussy. Uh, I took her to lunch the other day and we had a fight. We made up and we hugged. It’s gotta be her.
(Larry receives a text.)
Larry: Yeah, that’s her now.
Doctor: Her.
Larry: She’s so cute. We text all the time. For a while we weren’t but we’re back on now, so…

The doctor tells his assistant to call the police. Larry’s performance in the doctor’s office was perfect and will go down as one of my favorite scenes from “Curb.” His maniacal laughter at the end over the closing credits is priceless.

Thankfully, this episode of “Curb” finally gets the “Seinfeld” reunion off the ground. We watch as the cast rehearses the fictional reunion. This was a true joy as the script actually sounded really funny. Of course, there are some problems on the set — problems similar to the ones the real Larry David probably encountered while shooting his old show. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander immediately question Cheryl’s acting credentials; Marty Funkhauser shows up uninvited and tells Jerry a filthy joke; during the table read, Jason Alexander molests a pen he borrowed from Larry. This all happens in the opening scene and unravels at a comfortable pace over the next 36 minutes. Yes, this episode is quite a bit longer than most. Since “The Table Read” is so focused on the construction of the reunion, the weaker storylines are excusable. This serves as a reminder that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is indeed a show about Larry David. Thus, his disagreements with the maitre d’ and Emma were vital.

I’ve previously pointed out that Larry is in practically every scene from “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I closely examine those rare instances when he’s absent as the show briefly takes a detour from Larry’s brilliantly preculiar point of view. Although the scenes feel unhinged without his presence, they’re a breath of fresh air. With that in mind, Michael Richards and Leon deserve a bulk of the credit for making “The Table Read” a great episode.

We suspected Larry David would incorporate Richards’ mistake from three years ago, when Richards insulted an African American heckler during his comedy routine. I don’t know why I never thought Leon would get involved.

But I’m happy he did as the results were hysterical. In the opening scene, Michael tells Larry that he’s contracted the fictional Groat’s Disease. He’s worried that it will affect his performance. In response, Larry tries to set up a meeting with an accountant named Danny Duberstein, a longtime Groat’s Disease sufferer. Unfortunately, Duberstein has died from Groat’s, so Larry looks to Leon for help. He wants Leon to visit Michael and pretend to be Duberstein.

Later in the episode, Leon, dressed more like Louis Farrakhan from the Nation of Islam than a Jewish accountant, manages to convince Michael that he’ll be fine. It doesn’t take too long for Michael to discover that Leon is full of crap. Confronting Leon, Michael has every right to be angry, but he stops short of using any harsh insults because of his past. As various onlookers remove their cell phones to capture a potential meltdown, Michael departs in a frenzy.

Shortly after Michael Richards’ real-life scandal, he apologized on “Letterman” and spent weeks groveling in front of the African American community. That’s all but forgotten now and I don’t really know how people currently feel about this talented actor. Nevertheless, last night’s episode of “Curb” gave audiences a glimpse at the repercussions of Richards’ outburst. He can never screw up again and must always be on his toes. Isn’t that punishment enough? Given his willingness to skewer his own troublesome past on “Curb,” he’s obviously moving in the right direction. He has Larry David to thank for that.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.7 — The Black Swan

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Over the years, Larry has done some pretty heinous things to other people, but “The Black Swan” takes his antagonism a whole a new level. With his selfish behavior, Larry manages to create at least five new enemies per episode. In the real world, Larry would be a full-fledged sociopath, but life in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a bit more forgiving. Still, I can’t recall an episode where Larry indirectly killed anyone. In “The Black Swan,” our imperfect Larry has his hand in not one, but two deaths.

Fans have expressed disappointment with this season, saying recent episodes are too absurd. While I think absurdity sometimes comes off as lazy, it works for “Curb.” The ending of “The Bare Midriff” was completely unexpected, which was welcoming. That said, “The Black Swan” is a throwback to “Curb’s” early seasons. The story lines toy with legitimate social norms. That’s always been Larry’s forte, but he also manages to keep everything grounded in “The Black Swan” without going over the top.

While visiting his mother’s grave with his father and cousin, Larry finds the “passed away” spelt as “past away.” Apparently, his father didn’t want to pay the extra 100 bucks for the other letters. Larry, for all his misgivings, does seem to adore his family. He wants to hire a stonemason to have it fixed.

Down the street, Larry and his cousin, Andy, meet Jeff and Funkhouser at the country club. Larry instructs his table to order quickly because the slowest players have just sat down for breakfast. Larry doesn’t want to be stuck behind Norm and his group on the course. Everyone agrees, except Andy, who wants crispy onions. In the midst of some arguing, Larry gets a call from his father, causing everybody to stare. Mr. Takahashi, the owner, informs Larry that cell phones aren’t allowed in the clubhouse. He gives Larry a final warning.

While Andy is still working on his onions, Norm’s table gets up to play. Funkhouser gives Andy some grief and I think it’s the first time he’s ever cursed on this show. When the waiter drops off the bill, the audience knows Larry is going to take issue with something. This is third episode this season where tipping is used as a plot device. In “The Black Swan,” Larry doesn’t want to acknowledge the additional tip when an 18 percent tip is already included. The waiter doesn’t understand. I do. We all do.

On the course, Norm is taking forever. Larry tells him to move it along and they get into an argument. Andy just had to order those onions.

In the locker room, a member of Norm’s group confronts Larry. Norm has died, supposedly because of his argument with Larry. Norm had high blood pressure and his confrontation with Larry was all too much.

Larry: It’s not my fault that he had a heart attack.
Friend: Did you even know him?
Larry: Somewhat.
Friend: Did you even like him — at all?
Larry: No, I thought he was a prick.

Back at Larry’s house, he, his dad, and Andy and his wife are having dinner. Larry wants to put Andy and Cassie’s daughter through college. They are floored. Larry receives a call from the stone mason. The conversation starts out pleasant but soon becomes an argument over the validity of Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s career. For the record, Jeter deserves all the praise. Larry was right.

The next day, the golf course is empty out of respect for Norm’s passing. Larry and the others, however, use it as opportunity to get in a round. On the 12th hole, the site of Norm’s death, Larry shanks a shot. It lands down by the pond where the swans live, including Mr. Takahashi’s prized black swan, Kyoko. While setting up his next shot, Kyoko flies at Larry like a dart. Scared out of his wits, Larry murders the swan with one of his irons. The group decides to bury the bird.

While discussing the killing in the dining room, Jeff notices two gardeners wheeling something covered down a path. Mr. Takahashi walks up to the barrel and finds the dead body of Kyoko. Within a minute, an attendant tells the table to go to Mr. Takahashi’s office.

In what is the funniest scene of the episode, Takahashi grills each member of Larry’s group. Surprisingly, nobody lets the cat out of the bag.

Unfortunately, Andy spilled the beans to his wife. After Larry refuses to pay for her to attend cosmetology school, she calls him out for being a “swan killer.” In turn, he threatens to destroy her hats (Cassie designs stupid cowboy hats) if she spreads this information. This was the scene that didn’t really work for me. Larry had already agreed to pay for their daughter’s college. Nobody would ask the same person for a nice and expensive gesture days after that person already paid them a very nice and expensive gesture. Honestly, some of the people in the world of “Curb” are worse than Larry.

Despite the accusations of “murder,” Larry attends Norm’s wake. He runs into Funkhouser and they begin to talk about each other’s parents. Larry doesn’t believe you should have to introduce everyone to everyone under certain circumstances, so Funkhouser leaves the person standing next to him out of their conversation. That person happens to be Ed, the stonemason. As Larry recounts his conversation with the stonemason about Derek Jeter, Ed hears Larry call him a “moron” and an “asshole.” Not good.

Larry shows Funkhouser a frantic email Jeff has sent him. Jeff wants to come clean about the whole swan deal. Everybody takes their seats as the wake begins. Larry’s cell phone immediately disrupts the proceedings, causing ire in Mr. Takahashi. Not wanting to get caught, Larry tosses his cell phone aside.

Larry’s cell phone is later returned by the waiter from earlier. He compliments Larry’s Blackberry, particularly the way one can easily scroll through emails. Larry thinks the waiter saw what Jeff wrote. Thus, at their next meal in the clubhouse, Larry gives the waiter a $500 additional tip as a way of saying “keep your mouth shut.”

At Norm’s burial, Mr. Takahashi compliments Larry on giving the waiter such a large tip. Takahashi has come to the conclusion that someone so “generous” would never kill his beloved black swan. Putting the past behind them, they begin to chat like old friends. Larry still needs to check out his mother’s redone headstone, so Takahashi accompanies him since the clubhouse is right down the road.

The stonemason is just finishing up when they reach the gravesite. He’s wearing one of Cassie’s silly hats. The bottom of the headstone reads: Mother of Larry, an asshole and swan killer.

Cassie told.

Curb Your Enthusiasm 7.6 — The Bare Midriff

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I’ve seen every second of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and I can easily say that this was the most ridiculous episode yet. I don’t mean “ridiculous” as in “stupid,” but as in “incredibly zany.” During the filming of “The Bare Midriff,” I’m sure the cast and crew thought to themselves, This is too bizarre — even for us.

“Curb” has always wrapped up its seasons after 10 episodes, so we expected this one to tap back into the “Seinfeld” reunion. Larry only has five more episodes to destroy everything in sight.

Larry’s still trying to win Cheryl back, and part of the plan involves casting her as George’s ex-wife. As luck would have it, Meg Ryan has dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Larry suggests using Cheryl, but Jerry isn’t too keen on the idea. He wants her to read for the part.

In walks their young secretary, who’s tiny shirt exposes her bare, flabby midriff. While fixing a tricky air vent, her paunch seems even more inappropriate. It’s decided that Larry needs to tell her to cover up. He does, but manages to completely offend her in the process, so she quits.

The two friends leave to meet Richard Lewis for lunch. After Jerry is cut off while driving, he gives the other driver a gentle honk. Bad idea. The guy get out of his car and rips into Seinfeld.

Over at the restaurant, Lewis shows up after Jerry and Larry have already finished eating. Lewis still wants to order, but his friends are in the midst of an inane discussion about who should have to move over to make room. Lewis gets fed up and leaves. Nobody wants to be around these jokesters.

After an awkward encounter with Cheryl outside the studio, Larry has to face an upset Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. The girl who quit, Maureen, is the daughter of one of Julia’s past nannies. The woman has suffered some kind of breakdown and doesn’t need the added stress. Ever the peacemaker, Larry goes to set things right. Maureen agrees to come back to work, even though they don’t resolve the issue of the flab. Maureen’s mother soon returns from the market and nearly faints when she notices Larry. She thinks he looks exactly like her first husband who, in fact, was murdered on their honeymoon after honking at the wrong driver. (Wasn’t Jerry lucky?) Larry inspects an old photo of the guy and isn’t convinced: Not all bald men look alike. He excuses himself to the bathroom. Due to a new pill, his urine stream is uncontrollable and liquid is splashing everywhere. One sneaky drop even manages to land on a portrait of Jesus, just under an eyelash. Larry senses disaster.

Richard Lewis calls Larry to sound off about the restaurant catastrophe. He had wanted to give Larry a signed bat from Joe DiMaggio. While exchanging some final pleasantries, Larry loses his cell phone connection. Lewis expects a call back, but Larry doesn’t think it’s necessary. I wouldn’t call back. Guys don’t need to hear the “goodbye.” I’d be fine if everyone finished their conversations by saying, “end.”

Sure enough, Maureen and her mother interpret the wet portrait of Jesus as a miracle. Maureen informs Jerry and Larry that she is quitting in order to devote her life to Jesus. Larry knows what’s up: I think every erection is a miracle.

At a local Italian restaurant, Larry orders a sandwich and jams a bunch of napkins into the to-go bag. The owner limits all his customers to two napkins and instructs Larry to return the extras. When the owner’s back is turned, Larry takes them anyway. Unfortunately, he’s pulled over by a cop who had heard of the “theft.” Larry is taken to the police station and is forced to stand in a line-up. Apparently, all bald men do look alike as the owner can’t distinguish Larry from another bald man, who is African American.

Larry is late in meeting up with Maureen and her mother. He was supposed to co-sign on the RV papers so they could travel across the country on their religious mission. Maureen’s mother has let him drive her deceased husband’s car. On the road, Larry notices Richard, and honks at him to pull over. Naturally, she starts to panic. When Richard takes out the DiMaggio bat — his gift to Larry — she rams him with the car. Don’t worry, Richard is fine.

It is the final scene which is bit too wacky for my taste. Larry can’t get back into the studio to use the bathroom, so he is forced to pee outside. When Maureen and her mom show up to grab some things from the office, they instantly hear the strange noise. They follow the sound and discover Larry hosing down a bush. A wayward drop smacks Maureen in the face and it’s a thing of beauty. The family quickly realizes what happened with the Jesus portrait. Of course, Larry pissed on Jesus.

The unstable mother can’t take it. She somehow gets on the roof and walks to the ledge. Larry and Maureen also scale the building, despite their physical misgivings. Larry saves the mother, but loses his balance in the process. He fumbles over the side of the building, but latches onto something. It’s Maureen’s stomach.

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.

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