"That ending was so much better than the one that I wrote." -Larry DavidIn that moment, Larry's talking about the ending to the reunion special, not the "Seinfeld" finale. And he's always been adamant (including in a line in this episode) that he has no regrets about the finale. But whether he'll ever cop to it or not, over the course of this season of "Curb," and particularly over these last two episodes, Larry has given "Seinfeld" fans the ending they deserved but didn't get a decade ago.
Since it's been a while since I've opined on this subject, and since this will likely be the last time I'll have an opportunity to do so, my two cents on the "Seinfeld" finale: It's not that it didn't work because the characters were revealed to be selfish and shallow and awful human beings. We all already knew that they were. That was part of the joke, particularly in the later seasons. It didn't work because Larry clearly worried that his audience hadn't figured this out on their own, and that he needed to tell them, and to judge the characters - and, by proxy, the viewers who liked them - in the finale. And his need to make that point got in the way of the comedy. It wasn't an episode; it was a list of all the bad things Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer had ever done, all with a scolding subtext trying to question why we had found all that stuff funny over the years.
In fairness, placing this "Seinfeld" reunion in the confines of a "Curb" episode makes it easy for it to stand out. It's all the good bits, none of the plot mechanics: just joke, joke, joke, joke, joke. But what we did see of it, here and in "The Table Read," felt much more along the lines of what the finale should have been: just one last collection of stories involving these four socially maladjusted people.
Now, as an episode of "Curb," I'd put this one a little behind "The Table Read," which had the benefit of introducing most the reunion show jokes already - though this episode featured Jerry's wonderful rant about BlackBerry etiquette - and also the presence of Leon, which automatically makes any episode at least 20% funnier. But it still had plenty of inspired moments, whether it was Larry smiling through his pure hatred for Mocha Joe as he filled his tip cup with $20 bills, or the use of "Having said that" as a classic "Seinfeld"-style catchphrase(*)
(*) I don't think I use the phrase that often in my writing, but I do know I'm gonna try to stop it in the future. Having said that, it's really useful.
The highlight, easily, was Larry's brief attempt to play George Costanza, and the bizarre meta moment of Larry David broadly playing the mannerisms of an actor who became famous for playing a shorter, stockier, slightly more lovable version of himself. For all the grief Jerry takes (and the grief he gives himself) about his limitations as an actor, I have to give him major credit for being able to get through at least one take of that scene without cackling hysterically at the spectacle. (The outtakes for that scene are a must for the next "Curb" DVD set.)
In the end, the episode provides the exact kind of happy endings that "Seinfeld" itself eschewed: the reunion comes together and is terrific, and Larry and Cheryl get back together, albeit with Cheryl getting an instant reminder of why she left the guy in the first place.
So with "Seinfeld" having gotten proper closure, has Larry also put a bow on "Curb"? The last few seasons have all ended on notes that could very easily be the end of the series: Larry dies (briefly). Larry finds happiness as a member of the Black family. Larry makes a successful "Seinfeld" reunion and gets his wife back. What's left to do?
The previous two times, Larry came up with an idea (the divorce, then the "Seinfeld" stuff) that made him want to come back. And it's entirely possible he'll find that kind of inspiration again. As always, HBO's going to give Larry all the time in the world to decide. Either the show will come back one day, or it won't.
And if it comes back, I really hope Larry can talk Jerry into joining the ranks of recurring players on the show. Jerry certainly doesn't need the money, but his real-life relationship with Larry made him into one of TV Larry's best foils to date. It's just sheer pleasure to watch Jerry goad Larry into doing things he doesn't want to do himself, or to take someone else's side in an argument because he knows it'll push Larry's buttons.
As a "Seinfeld" fan, I feel like I finally got all I needed to see of Jerry and friends. As a "Curb" fan, I'm still hungry for a lot more of Jerry with Larry, if that's what either of these men want to do with their lives.
What did everybody else think?