Tag: Curb Your Enthusiasm Seinfeld reunion

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 7.4 — 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.

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