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Reviewed by Ross Ruediger
t’s almost hard to believe that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has been a comedy staple for 10 years. After all, it spends far more time off the air than it does on, and the number of episodes produced to date is only 70 (although we’re getting yet another 10 in 2011). Back at the start of the decade, who would’ve guessed that the adventures of one bald asshole would outlive other HBO staples like “Sex and the City,” “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under?”
At the close of Season Six, Cheryl had finally kicked Larry to the curb (ahem), and the displaced Katrina victims, the Blacks, had moved into the David homestead. Everything seemed perfect, and once again, a “Curb” season ended with a sense of finality about it. Where could the joke possibly go from there? It would’ve been easy enough to start Season Seven with the Blacks gone from the show, and out of Larry’s life, explained away by a couple lines of dialogue between Larry and Jeff. But the show doesn’t take the easy way out, and instead the first two episodes showcase his attempts to get Loretta (Vivica A. Fox) out of his life for good. When she’s diagnosed with cancer, he crafts what seems to be a foolproof scheme, which in the end of course fails. Lucky for Larry, a series of contrived misunderstandings involving “Vehicular Fellatio” lead to the swift exit of Loretta and the rest of the Blacks, save for Leon (J.B. Smoove), who doesn’t really seem to care that his family has moved away. And thank goodness for that, because we really, really like Leon. As far as I’m concerned, he and Larry can end up in a rest home together, should this series ever end.
With Loretta out of the way, Larry hatches a new plan, and it centers on getting Cheryl back. Turns out she’s been doing some acting, and a chance encounter between the ex-husband and wife leads to his decision to finally mount a “Seinfeld” reunion, in which he plans to cast Cheryl as George Costanza’s ex-wife. Every season of “Curb” must have a central idea to revolve around, and this time the reunion show is it. Obviously, for many viewers, the chance to see Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer together once again was a huge draw for this season of “Curb,” and there are likely plenty of such people who don’t subscribe to HBO that will naturally be interested in this set for this very reason.
Will you be satisfied? If we’re being totally honest here, the answer is “probably not if you’re strictly a ‘Seinfeld’ fan.” This is “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and while there are some similarities between the two shows, there’s no question that “Curb” is about 10 times more offensive than “Seinfeld” ever dreamed of being, and this season pushes boundaries like never before. And yet the icons of “Seinfeld” are present, and most fans will surely find something to appreciate in the last two episodes, which build up to the special, provided Larry David hasn’t alienated them before getting there.
The first four episodes of the season have some good moments, but they probably won’t be considered perfect episodes by most “Curb” aficionados. With the fifth episode, “Denise Handicap,” the season starts toying with greatness, when Larry inadvertently falls for a woman in a wheelchair. That episode is followed by “The Bare Midriff,” an episode that features Larry accidentally splashing urine on a painting of Jesus; naturally, the owners of the artwork believe it’s a teardrop. Later on in “The Table Read,” a little girl has “a rash on her pussy.” (That’s an actual quote from the episode that’s used repeatedly.) “Seinfeld” this is not. I’d like to think most hardcore “Seinfeld” fans have already seen some “Curb” at one point or another, so you probably know whether or not it’s your thing. If you didn’t like it before, it’s highly unlikely anything here is going to change your opinion.
On the other hand, if you’re a “Curb” fan, this season is about on par with the last couple. It’ll probably never again scale the heights of the early seasons, and there’s no question that there are some ideas David never seems to tire of, even if we do; tipping, for instance, is once again beaten to death in not one but two episodes here. The show also seems to get meaner and more absurd with each passing season. It’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t seem to care whether or not it’s mirroring the frustrations and social faux-pas of real life, yet you can count on there being something here to offend just about everybody.
Special Features: There are just four featurettes here, most of which probably played on HBO when this season aired last fall. “The Seinfeld Reunion: It Could Only Happen on Curb,” “Larry David as George Costanza,” “A Seinfeld Moment on Curb: Interview with Larry David and the Seinfeld Cast,” and lastly, “Rebuilding the Seinfeld Sets,” which may be the most interesting of the lot, simply because so damn much painstaking work was put into recreating the “Seinfeld” sets, even though they ultimately didn’t get that much screentime.