Monday, November 12, 2007

Curb: The perfect woman

Spoilers for the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" season finale coming up just as soon as I adjust the thermostat...

Now we know why Larry's allegedly talking about coming back for another year, maybe even two. "Curb" with Larry and Cheryl? Maybe played out. "Curb" with Larry and the Blacks? Brilliant!

An up-and-down season got an up-and-down finale, but the final montage of Larry as Loretta's new man made everything -- the episode, the season, the John McEnroe episode -- totally worth it. Loretta getting up in Susie's face while Larry enjoys her protection and waves dismissively is one of the funniest "Curb" moments ever. When Loretta told Larry that they'd be moving out, I felt as sad as Larry did, if only because I was going to miss Leon and his advice ("You need to focus on some ass!" "Grow a mustache, man!"), and now, assuming Larry in real life decides to keep going, I won't have to.

I don't know that this living situation is going to be the status quo in the event of another season -- for all I know, the show could come back with the Blacks having moved out again -- but the possibilities are huge, as the glimpses we saw in the montage suggested. Larry as a parental figure? Larry with a woman who's as loud and confrontational as he is? Larry with a woman who's much harder to offend than Cheryl? Leon as an ongoing castmember? Sign me up.

The episode as a whole, like I said, was uneven. I liked the little moments, like Jeff revoking the $50 bet, or Larry and Lewis essentially breaking character (if that's possible in this format) over the "Ben Laden" mispronunciation, or Larry's interplay with the patient sign-in sheet ("You strike me as that type," "I'm not an inventor, but I'm an improver"). But outside of Larry's explosion at his assistant for mentioning the tickle in front of Michael McKean, I don't think any of the larger plot worked, falling into that "Curb" trap of seeming predictable rather than inevitable.

But Loretta calling out Susie? Damn. I need to go watch that again. What did everybody else think?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even during so-so "CYE" seasons, the finales have been brilliant, so I was disappointed as this one lumbered along, wasting the improv talents of Michael McKean and Mindy Sterling.

But the final montage saved it and makes me want to come back for another year. Loretta giving Susie a taste of her own medicine is one of the show's all-time moments, and the ultra-sitcommy holiday card at the end (with Leon setting the timer!) was perfect.

olucy said...

I thought last week's ep, ending on the ferris wheel with Cheryl getting a phone call from her therapist, felt more like a season finale for this show.

Tom said...

So at long last Larry David finds a loving home, with hugs distributed and lessons learned.

The show did feel like a finale to me. It was satisfying to see Larry systematically confront all the situations that torture him week in and week out, only to have them each, one by one, work themselves out. (The desk clerk at the doctor's office turns out to be reasonable, his feminine doppleganger isn't waiting in the theater lobby to take their clash to the next level, Richard Lewis is in a forgiving mood, etc.) The final hook-up with Loretta was the perfect happy ending: she and her family were the only characters in the show who genuinely cared for Larry because they liked him, not because they're sucking up to Larry David, creator of "Seinfeld."

The one bit that really bugged me was the gerbil-up-the-ass bit. It seemed like a bright idea for a joke that he never bothered to develop into an actual joke. I laughed when Larry made his speech at Sammy's bat mitzvah, but I laughed at its audacity, not wit. At its best, this show combines both.

jana said...

Hey Alan,

While you're on HBO season finales, will you write about Tell Me You Love Me? I watched it a couple of days ago On Demand and was deeply moved. One caveat, I'm tired of Jamie yanking poor Hugo around. The other couples were spectacular, though.

Anonymous said...

I get what your saying about the predictability of some of the plots, but I loved this season. The 2nd half of this year's season was probably my favorite string of episodes in a row. I hope Larry decides to have another season. And Leopn is a great character "You've gotta become a diferrent mothef*****! Larry"

Classic

Andrew said...

Can I ask that we all, as a nation, agree to use the phrase "A tickle in my anus" whenever possible? Is there a situation where that phrase wouldn't make you laugh?

I was so glad to see Vivica Fox finally get a chance to be funny. I thought, with her being a relatively well known name-actor, she would get a few storylines and a chance to nail some comedy (Booty Call, anyone?) but she has largely been underutilized this season in favor of Leon (a good decision, but still...) so it was great to see her take Susie to task.

And how about Larry becoming an black guy-in law at the movies? Talking and shouting like a stereotype? The concept of Larry David as the one white member of a black family might actually be better comedic fodder than last years idea of Larry as a gentile.

I also think we should give credit to the scene with the gastro-enterologists receptionist. It had snippits of everything that is great about seeing the world through Larry David's eyes: the idea of being an improver rather than an inventor, being willing to put far more effort into the most minor of inconveniences than anyone else on the planet would, customer service professionals that have no interest in dealing with his sort of obsessive craziness, and the idea that even when he gets his way it could screw him over. Frankly, he should hire that nine dollar an hour, no education, unskilled, unmotivated woman as his new assistant.

And how about Larry turning down a fix-up with a Cirque de Soleil belly dancer? Fantastic stuff.

Michelle said...

I thought the actress who played the receptionist in the doctor's office was really terrific in her small role. Larry's foils can be one-note sometimes, but her delivery was great.

Anonymous said...

If you watch the season premiere, it looks like they were planning a lot more Larry-Loretta stuff for the season.

Leon didn't come along until the next episode, and they said his character actually lived in L.A., so I don't think he was originally outlined as such a prominent sidekick/foil for Larry.

I think they ramped up his role after seeing how hilarious J.B. Smoove was in the part, which cut into Vivica A. Fox's time.

G-Fafif said...

"I'm the guy who keeps the captain company" should also go down as one of the great Larry lines ever.

Though it was a very shaky season and no episode struck me as solid from start to finish, this one felt lighter and fresher than everything up to the therapist installment a week earlier (which broke the slump in a big way). There seemed to be more of that legendary 'CYE' improv at work and it really gave things an energy boost.

In loving agreement over Loretta putting Susie in her place. I'd hate to think what Loretta would say to Susie calling her a car wash...ah, you now.

Alex R said...

All I can say is that if "Curb" comes back and it's a full season of "Larry & The Blacks" (and especially lots of Larry w/ Leon) I am definitely on board.

I also felt a feeling of loss when the Blacks said they finally found a new house.

The whole storyline with the Blacks definitely rebooted the show well.

And also, with no appearances (for the first time ever) of the hysterically funny Wanda Sykes, I am glad they had Larry once again playing his style of humor off of African American humor, which would have been lost without the Blacks being a big part of the season, since it's obvious that wanda's schedule has gotten tougher as she is more in demand than ever.

Bravo, Larry - 1 more year!!!! (and at leats bring Leon back)

dez said...

It seemed like a bright idea for a joke that he never bothered to develop into an actual joke.

I kept waiting for the gerbil to crawl on Larry's shoe or something and then everyone assume it was coming down his leg.

So Larry is finally a different motherfucker. That Christmas card made the whole season for me.

Kensington said...

Oh my goodness! I never thought this could be said about Curb Your Enthusiasm, but that ending was sweet, adorable, and positively life-affirming.

Happy Holidays from Larry and the Blacks? Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

"It seemed like a bright idea for a joke that he never bothered to develop into an actual joke.

I kept waiting for the gerbil to crawl on Larry's shoe or something and then everyone assume it was coming down his leg."

I disagree. I think it was handled perfectly. The way that it was handled ambiguously was great (you don't actually hear the doctor's explanation and the gerbil is never found). The whole time, it keeps you wondering, would Larry actually be sick enough to do that? I think that is the genius of it, and I think it would have been diminished if they came out and showed the gerbil creeping out of his pants. Also, it would have been diminished if they showed that they found the gerbil. I thought it was perfect

Anonymous said...

Loretta getting up in Susie's face while Larry enjoys her protection and waves dismissively is one of the funniest "Curb" moments ever.

Yes! I had to use my TiVo replay button a couple of times, that was so funny.

It wasn't even Loretta or Susie that made me laugh, it was all about Larry's face, and the way he was waving at Susie, like "take that, bitch!"

He had been waiting to get in Susie's face for *years* but never had the guts to do it before, but Loretta had no problem doing it and Larry was happy to let her. So funny.

Tom said...

RE: The gerbil up Larry's ass:

"I disagree. I think it was handled perfectly. The way that it was handled ambiguously was great (you don't actually hear the doctor's explanation and the gerbil is never found)."

I can't say I agree that ambiguity is the best choice for ending a joke. It would have been funnier to ratchet up the humiliation. In fact, having Larry return to the clinic to get a note from his doctor to the effect that he does not, in fact, have gerbil up his ass could have been funny.

A cameo from Richard Gere would have worked, too. :-)

Lewis said...

I loved the episode. I too thought the receptionist at the Dr office was great. The take back of the bet by Jeff was great. I was very disappointed when the Blacks announced they were leaving, but the chance of keeping them around was all I need for Christmas. Leon was great all season, I got the chance to see him do stand up this past weekend and he was hilarious. Not as funny as when he has interaction with Larry though.

Anonymous said...

RE: The gerbil up Larry's ass:

"I disagree. I think it was handled perfectly. The way that it was handled ambiguously was great (you don't actually hear the doctor's explanation and the gerbil is never found)."

I can't say I agree that ambiguity is the best choice for ending a joke. It would have been funnier to ratchet up the humiliation. In fact, having Larry return to the clinic to get a note from his doctor to the effect that he does not, in fact, have gerbil up his ass could have been funny.

A cameo from Richard Gere would have worked, too. :-)

Haha. You are right, it would have been great to have a cameo from Richard Gere. I bet Larry probably considered it, but something tells me that Richard Gere probably takes himself too seriously to poke fum at himself like that.