Some thoughts on last night's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming up just as soon as I recharge the mitzvah...
There may have been funnier episodes of "Curb" this season ("Vehicular Fellatio" comes to mind), but none have felt as satisfying on so many levels as "The Table Read." It worked as an episode of "Curb." It worked as a quasi-"Seinfeld" reunion, and as a kind of DVD bonus feature about what life on the "Seinfeld" set was like(*). It mixed the two worlds expertly, with Marty Funkhouser making an ass of himself in front of Jerry and Jerry letting him do it, and with Leon finally, inevitably, crossing paths with Michael Richards. And it all left a big smile on my face.
(*) The interaction between Julia, Jerry and Wayne Knight in particular seemed exactly like how I imagine rehearsal on that show went.
I loved seeing Julia and Jason both start to realize that there's something fishy about the casting of Cheryl to play George's wife, and the ongoing smug hatred between Larry and Jason remains a delight. And I love that what little we heard of the reunion script feels like actual "Seinfeld" writing. A character getting mixed up with Bernie Madoff is exactly the sort of thing a 2009 "Seinfeld" episode might feature, the dialogue had all the right rhythms, and there were nice little moments like Jerry being surprised that Elaine knows about the Fortress of Solitude crystals. Plus, we got both Newman and Banya! It's clear that Larry (and probably Jerry) put a lot of time and effort into getting the one scripted part of the show right.
I mean, I don't think I would actually want to see this script produced as a real reunion special, but I'm much less confident about that than I would have been before I watched this episode. Where the script for "Jerry!" (the show-within-the-show from "Seinfeld" season four) was deliberately awful, this felt like it had potential. (Though, of course, the fact that we only got snippets, and not the whole thing, no doubt made the material seem better than it would on its own at full length.)
But taken as an episode of "Curb," it also worked. Funkhouser again overstepped his boundaries, as he so often does. The maitre d' gag tied in nicely with the little girl texting story(**), and that in turn paid off beautifully with an oblivious Larry at the doctor's office.
(***) Given that "NewsRadio" briefly aired alongside "Seinfeld" on NBC's Thursday lineup, it was a little odd to see Vicki Lewis not playing herself. But overall, she's definitely lower on the fame threshold than someone like Elisabeth Shue or John Schneider, and if they could play characters last week, then I guess she can, too.
I was a little disappointed in the references to Michael's infamous racist tirade, but more in that it's something I think I'd built up in my head ever since this season's story was announced, and so nothing could live up to that. And I think that Michael Richards as himself is more introverted and less inherently funny than Jerry or Jason are. But Leon doing his best impersonation of a white Jewish man, telling Kramer all sorts of lies about Groats disease(***), was yet another example of the genius that JB Smoove has brought to the series.
(***) Groats is fictional, and a callback to season two's "The Thong."
I have high hopes for next week's finale, but in a way, I feel like I've already gotten the "Seinfeld" reunion (or a facsimile of it) that I wanted.
What did everybody else think?