Sunday, September 16, 2007

Curb: Why was that night different from the other nights?

Spoilers for "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming up just as soon as I consult the laws of tzedakah regarding anonymous donations...

Even if season six of "Curb" craters as quickly as season five did after "Kamikaze Bingo," it will have been worth it for "The Anonymous Donor" alone, a hysterical, disgusting, offensive, superbly-constructed half hour of comedy that shows Larry still has it.

The genius of "Curb" so often is that you know where a joke is going (say, Larry getting chased by the guy whose Pepitone jersey he stole) but laugh anyway. What kicks episodes like this up to another level are those moments where storylines converge in that unexpected, classic "Seinfeld" manner, here with the two disaparate anonymous donor storylines (semen vs. NRDC money) colliding when Suzy demands to know who soiled her daughter's teddy bear. I can't remember the last time I laughed as loud or as long as I did at Cheryl's "I know who Anonymous is!"

The episode also featured two different superb examples of Larry deciding the rules of polite society need some fixing, first with the dry cleaning business (his "I don't subscribe to that law" complaint to Gina Gershon should be a bumper sticker on his Prius or something), then with the notion of anonymous donations as "fake philanthropy." As I've mentioned in the past, I have a running debate with my wife about when Larry's clearly in the wrong and when he suffers for being righter than anyone else, and I was with him on both of these. (If I was in California and Barbara Boxer actually expressed that opinion about dry cleaning, I'm not sure I'd vote for her. Well, maybe...)

It helped to have Ted Danson around again, as their hatred of each other -- not to mention Danson's willingness to play himself as a self-satisfied prick so much of the time -- really added some spice to the entire NRDC sequence, particularly Ted pretending to be humble time after time.

Jeff's anonymous donation, meanwhile, led to all kinds of wonderful, horrible brilliance, whether it was Larry and Leon debating the proper pronunciation of the noun form of "ejaculate" ("Uhjackalit?"), Jeff blaming it on the Passover wine (I have to say, Manischewitz has never put me in the mood before) and explaining that he wouldn't have done the same thing on the high holidays, Suzy accusing Jeff of adultery for pleasuring himself outside the home, or the unfinished scene where Suzy goes to confront Danson. (Larry has said that there was a lot of debate over where to cut that scene off, whether to show Suzy berating him, and eventually they decided it would be funnier for people to imagine all the profanity.)

Speaking of Leon, played by J.B. Smoove; what a great addition to the cast. As we saw with "Krazee-Eyez Killa" (my pick for best "Curb" episode ever), Larry befriending black people is money in the bank, and now we have several different personalities for Larry to bounce off of: guarded and cynical Loretta, gregarious Leon and Auntie Rae, whose reaction to Larry's ghost costume was also priceless.

"Curb" is back. For this week, anyway.

What did everybody else think?

20 comments:

Tim said...

The things poor Sammi has had to go through!

notjon said...

Maybe I'm crazy, but the question of who actually defiled the teddy bear is really gonna bug me.

(I'm really tempted to post this comment as "Anonymous")

Stacie said...

Larry and Ted muttering and cursing one another while Boxer was introducing them was priceless. Love this show!

Andrew said...

My favorite moments of a stellar episide:

Larry and Leon playing War in matching Pepitone jerseys

The look on Jeff's face when he announced that he was the one who stained Larry's blanket. He looked like a kid who had just been caught farting in church (or synagogue?)

Ted and Mary sitting on the couch reading the paper. The doorbell rings and Ted says "I'll get it." and never moves. The look Mary gives him as she gets up to answer the door is absolutly phenomenal. Such a great little throw-away moment.

Undercover Black Man said...

Yep, a great one. My personal pick for best Larry-befriends-a-black-person ep. (and possibly favorite episode ever) was when Larry picked up the prostitute so he could drive in the HOV lane to the Dodgers game... Wonderful in every way.

I have never been a J.B. Smoove fan (he narrated "Pootie Tang," and he has turned up as a bit player on "SNL," where he's a writer). But he was good here. The whole digression about Clara and the "Andy Griffith Show"... the street-jackings ("That's how I dooz it!") Oh, plus him getting turned on by Susie Essman's dirty mouth! Oh my damn!

When this show is hitting on all cylinders, it's really something.

Alan Sepinwall said...

UBM, the hooker/Dodger episode has an added bonus, as it was the show that allowed Larry to help a guy beat a murder rap. (He was in the same section of Dodger Stadium as Larry at the exact time he was supposed to be committing the crime, and Larry personally pored over all the footage until he found a clear image of the guy.)

When HBO did the press conference call with Larry before the season began, I asked when he was going to get around to turning that into an episode. He said it seemed like a natural, with one problem: TV Larry doesn't have a job, so it would be hard to contrive a reason for cameras to be following him. But he did like the sound of it; maybe for season seven.

Anonymous said...

I really liked that scene between Gina Gershon and Larry:

"You look so cute when you're blushing ..."

"I'll have your semen-stained blanket ready on Wednesday ..."

Gina Gershon still bringing the hot.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ ... maybe for season seven.

Don't tease, bitch. This isn't the last season??

Tom said...

"I have a running debate with my wife about when Larry's clearly in the wrong and when he suffers for being righter than anyone else..."

Blasphemy! Larry is *always* right. That's the key to the show.

The NRDC scene was as funny as anything I've ever seen on TV. That, along with Susie's response when Larry gave her a playful tap on the shoulder.

What a great show. Even when it "craters" it's better than just about any other show on TV.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Don't tease, bitch. This isn't the last season??

Larry says he approaches each season like it's going to be the last, then makes up his mind for real after he wraps. But on the aforementioned conference call he also sounded like a man who was very close to agreeing to continue.

Anonymous said...

Before this season started, when news of Larry David's real life split from his wife became news, my significant other wondered if this story line would find its way into the current season. I dismissed his reasoning at the time, but now I am starting to believe that it might play a part of the current season and that it might actually work.

Cheryl's flirtation with Ted and her increasing frustration with Larry could lead to a split. And a single, on-the-market Larry David could be a comedic treasure trove.

Toby said...

Anybody else notice that all those celebrity pics on the wall of the dry cleaner's were of actors from HBO shows?

(I can't take credit for noticing that - a friend pointed it out to me.)

Toby said...

Oh! Forgot to mention: I also got the feeling from this episode that eventually Larry is going to be responsible for giving Grandma Black a heart attack.....

Anonymous said...

yes! "hooker in the diamond lane" is genius. kim whitley in a tour de force.
larry could barely keep it together when jeff confessed. hi-larious.

Anonymous said...

Season 5 cratered after "Kamikaze Bingo"? I hadn't noticed. After all, Larry David saying "I'm a gentile." in the last episode has to be up for consideration for the greatest moment of comedy in American television history.

dez said...

Anybody else notice that all those celebrity pics on the wall of the dry cleaner's were of actors from HBO shows?

Yep, I noticed it because of the big pic of Peter Krause. Nice touch, Larry!

I can't believe Jeff confessed to his transgression.

J. Sterling Ellison said...

I've a fantasy: I run into Susie Essman (the actress) at, say, the airport. I let her know I'm a fan and, like people getting Don Rickles to insult them, I convince her to tell me off like she does to Larry and Jeff. "Don't hold back, Susie. Give it to me!" Her toxic rants are BEAUTIFUL! It's my favorite part of the show.

Anonymous said...

Joe Pepitone up in this motherfucker!!

Jeff said...

I thought there was something familiar about this episode and then I flipped on Seinfeld last night - only to see virtually the EXACT same thing happening.

It was the episode with the Flying Walendas or whatever, and they steal the Friars Club jacket Jerry was accidentally wearing outside the club.

Jerry and George confront the guy and steal it back, only to find out it was a different jacket. The guy they stole it from grabs a gang of people and chases them. Familiar? Come on Larry, you don't need to rip off YOURSELF!

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm in the minority here, but I've always found Larry's interactions with black America to be the opposite of comic gold. Same with Seinfeld's interactions - J.B. Smoove doesn't seem that far removed from Phil Morris' "Jackie Chiles" character on the earlier show I never warmed to.

And I'm still wondering who really defiled the teddy bear. Usually when Larry does bad, we get to see it. Did I miss something?