|Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fifth Season (2005)
Starring: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman
There’s not a lot to say about “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” other than it might very well be one of the greatest comedies ever made. Take a second to imagine what it would have been like had “Seinfeld” debuted on HBO, or if George Costanza had been the main character. Then, add in an even more narcissistic protagonist, enough racial, sexual and religious slurs to last you a lifetime in Hell, and congratulations, you’ve just pitched one of the funniest shows on television. Of course, not everyone likes Larry David. In fact, there’s a good chance that most people can’t stand the guy. He’s a paint-by-numbers perfectionist, a social killjoy, and an all-around major pain in the ass, but he’s also one of the most entertaining characters ever created.
David shows absolutely no mercy in the fifth season of the award-winning comedy series, whether it’s fighting with Ted Danson over the name of a sandwich, inviting a sex offender (Rob Corddry) over for Seder, or accusing his Korean bookie (Bobby Lee) of eating his manager’s dog. And when Larry’s not out causing trouble, he’s digging into his past to uncover whether or not he was adopted (based on a mumbled confession his father made while in the hospital) or sweating a possible kidney transplant for friend Richard Lewis, with which he’s more or less pressured into volunteering for when Richard’s only surviving family member, Louis Lewis (Bill Saluga), falls into a coma.
The rest of the principal cast is back to offer support (including Cheryl Hines as David’s better half, Jeff Garlin as his manager, and Susie Essman as Jeff’s bitchy wife) – as are recurring guest stars like Shelley Berman and Richard Kind – but this is David’s show through and through. The untrained actor certainly matured as a performer over the previous four seasons – with last year’s “The Producers” storyline finally giving David the chance to hone his acting chops – and so in season five, he comes off as a much more seasoned professional. This doesn’t mean that the character is any different, however.
Take for instance the final episode of the season, “The End,” (which could very well serve as the series finale), in which Larry and Cheryl spend a majority of the episode arguing over who misplaced a “Sopranos” DVD case. After Larry dies during the kidney transplant for Richard Lewis, he goes to Heaven with a full head of hair and two spiritual guides (played by Dustin Hoffman and Sacha Baron Cohen) to show him around. And yet, despite his, well, heavenly surroundings, all Larry really cares about is who actually lost the “Sopranos” DVD case; so much so that he’s willing to get in a fiery debate with an angel (a freaking angel) just to prove his point. Suffice to say, Larry isn’t deemed “ready” for a glorious afterlife in Heaven, and so he’s sent back to his body in the real world to continue a life of sheer aggravation.
HBO has never been one to include a lot of bonus material on their TV DVD sets, but the two-disc season five release of “Curb” actually offers a couple of goodies in addition to the included episodes. Both running approximately 25 minutes in length, “The History of Curb… So Far” and “The History of Curb… Even Further” serve as excellent production featurettes detailing everything from the series’ origin and evolution, to actual production of the show and cast/crew favorites from the first five seasons. A couple commentary tracks and some alternate takes (or a gag reel) would have been a nice complement for what might very well be the final season of the show, but since David is such a stickler for excellence, it’s hard to imagine he would ever permit it. Then again, is this the final season of the show or not? The last episode is called “The End” – and it would have been better had Larry David actually remained in Heaven– but more recent news sources point to a possible sixth (and final) season of the series. How are they going to top that? Kill him again? Whatever the outcome, it’s hard to deny “Curb Your Enthusiasm” a place in television history, or in that case, a place in your DVD collection.