Monday, November 05, 2007

Curb: Forget me now

Spoilers for "Curb Your Enthusiasm" coming up just as soon as I get a good seat to watch a walkathon...

When you have a show about a man who does awful things every day, it becomes hard to top yourself after a while. And yet, deep into season six of "Curb," Larry David has managed to reach new highs -- or lows, depending on your point of view -- of behavior.

Larry arranging a fake mugging to suck up to Cheryl's therapist was maybe in the upper reaches of bad "Curb" behavior, but letting his own therapist (hilariously played by Steve Coogan) go to jail and get raped to preserve the lie? Wow. (And I don't think there's any way to read Coogan's bow-legged walk at getting out of prison other than him becoming, to use a word from "Oz," a prag.) And then, when Cheryl's shrink fell for him, Larry faked Alzheimer's? Double-wow.

There are times when I'm too appalled by Larry's behavior to find "Curb" funny, but there was a gonzo energy to "The Therapists" that made me not mind. My grandfather died of Alzheimer's, and so I should have been offended by that entire thread, but Funkhouser's description of his father-in-law's behavior ("He screams at the cat because she didn't vote.") and, especially, Larry hanging his head at the realization that he doesn't even like chicken salad had me clutching my sides.

As a comedian, Larry's always been a believer that any subject can be made funny with the right absurdist spin (see also "The Survivor"), and throughout this episode he approached problematic material from a ridiculous right angle to make it work. The scene where Larry and Jeff approach Leon (essentially their only black male friend) to play the mugger could have been awkward and painful, but Leon's insistence that someone would need to be fucked up -- and Larry's opposition to same -- instead made it hilarious.

Seems a shame that the season is coming to an end only next week. We had a great first few episodes, then a bunch of awful ones in the middle, but this has been three weeks in a row of brilliance, and since "Curb" seasons tend to have strong finales, I don't expect this one to disappoint. The good news is that Larry seems amenable to continuing the show -- maybe even for two more years, per the NY Post.

What did everybody else think?


SJ said...

Another great episode. This has definitely been a great season. I loved Coogan's reactions.

I am really surprised to hear that he may continue the show for 2 more years, considering how he has been wanting to stop it for years now. In any case, I'm all for it.

Anonymous said...

Coogan was hilarious, especially the scene where the police are dragging him off in the background while Larry is talking to Dr. Slavin. That was my favorite.

That being said, I found the last scen funny but heartbreaking when Slavin calls Cheryl on the cell while Cheryl and Larry are finally getting back together.

Anonymous said...

Leon, as usual, was hilarious with that "I gotta fuck you up Larry bit". My favourite Leon bit, however, remains: "you gotta step into that asshole and tear that ass".

Anonymous said...

I so loved this episode. What made me laugh was that therapists are supposed to help you organize your thinking, rather than tell you what to do (Curb cf. Tell Me). The way in which the therapist was spelling out exactly what to do (take her hand and whisper in her ear that you love her) really got me.

Anonymous said...

This was, to my mind, the first real outta-the-ballpark Curb of the season. Till now, I found the episodes either flat, or containing at least one far-too-implausible flaw, leaving me feeling a bit cool in the end: Larry's inability to simply say "the N-word", an exterminator mistaking a dog for a rat, Richard Lewis insisting on a "righty" call, etc. (I've been feeling the same way about The Office a lot, too, but that's another topic)

I really wanted to comment, though, on Dr. Bright's bow-legged walk: I noticed it, too, Alan, and came to the same conclusion you did, as far as what it meant. And I have to say, I cringed. I'm seeing these prison anal-rape jokes a lot. Everywhere. And I have to say, I'm not a fan. I have a high threshold for sophomoric, even base humor. I tune into Howard Stern. I watched, and even somewhat enjoyed, Beerfest. I was into Borat before being into Borat was cool. But I'm not sure I find any kind of rape funny and I know we wouldn't tolerate jokes about it for women. Worse, it's become so predictable in any prison setting, that I just know ahead of time the writers are going to use it. For all those reasons, I'm not laughing, and even finding it kills much of my buzz from other, smarter jokes. So, when the writers finally come back to work, I hope the studios make it part of their contract that they are no longer permitted to go for these stupid, easy man-rape gags.

Anonymous said...

I missed the first 5-6 episodes of the season and had to catch up On Demand. I can't believe next week is the finale. When you watch 6 episodes in a 2 1/2 hour time frame, it makes the season go by too quickly. Great season and I'm super happy to hear that Larry is more than likely bringing Curb back for another season or 3. Leon may be the funniest man on TV - I sure hope Larry finds a way to work him in next season.